Cats and Exotics Practice, Darlington

Our newest surgery is located on Duke Street in Darlington, just around the corner from our Stanhope Road Hospital, providing a fabulous stress-free environment for cats and exotics patients!

We opened our Cats and Exotics surgery at the end of October 2016 – a clinic we are proud of for many reasons.

Our Cats and Exotics Clinic is an extension of our hospital, allowing us to treat cats and more exotic patients in a dedicated stress-free environment. We have also achieved “Gold Standard” Cat Friendly Clinic status – the highest accolade awarded by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), and we are currently the only one in County Durham!

More and more research has gone into feline medicine in recent years, and as such the veterinary profession has hugely improved their knowledge regarding not only the veterinary side of things, but also the behavioural aspect and how this impacts on everyday feline veterinary care. Similar advances have also been made in small mammal veterinary medicine, particularly with regards to rabbits – which are the 3rd most popular pets in the UK.

At Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital, we are thrilled to now be able to offer a purpose-built environment, where we can carry out consultations, along with surgery and hospitalisation of patients, here at our Duke Street clinic. And it is much less stressful for these patients!

Reducing stress on patients visiting the surgery for whatever reason has multiple benefits; a more thorough examination can be performed; the need for chemical restraint such as sedation is reduced; a patient’s clinical parameters are more accurate as they are not obscured due to adrenaline release caused by fear and stress; hospital stays are less stressful resulting in quicker recoveries and a much more pleasant experience for the patient; there is less risk to staff handling patients displaying fear aggression; owners can relax a little easier during these worrying times; and subsequent veterinary visits are hopefully more pleasant. For tips on travelling to the surgery with your cat, please follow the link for a printable factsheet.

At our dedicated Cats and Exotics Clinic, we are able to provide separate waiting areas and consultation rooms for cats and exotic species (exotics include small herbivores such as rabbits / guinea pigs / hamsters etc; birds; and reptiles which are becoming increasingly popular as pets). We also have 3 dedicated wards for the different species – cats, small mammals and birds, and reptiles. These wards have all been designed specifically with the individual needs of the patients in mind, and provide an ideal environment for your pet to recover and recuperate!

We also have a preparation room and sterile theatre to enable us to perform most general surgeries as well as dental procedures. More complex surgical cases or patients requiring x-rays will be safely transferred to our Stanhope Road Hospital where we have our full range of facilities on hand. Sick or recovering patients that require hospitalisation for more intensive nursing care, will be safely transported to our Stanhope Road Hospital, where an experienced nurse is present to provide care as required throughout their stay.

Waiting Rooms

At our Cats and Exotics clinic, we have two separate waiting areas – one for cats and one for exotics. This helps reduce stress by minimising the sight, sound or smell of each other. 

When you arrive at the surgery, you will be invited to place your pet’s basket or cage on one of our tables in the waiting area, where your pet will feel less vulnerable as they will be able to observe their surroundings from a height. 

We also have a supply of clean towels (pre-sprayed with either Feliway or Pet Remedy) which can help to settle anxious pets. We also have a Feliway and Pet Remedy diffusers plugged in in both the waiting areas and consulting rooms – Feliway is a synthetic copy of the cats’ facial pheromones which provide happy and reassuring signals to help reduce anxiety, whilst Pet Remedy comprises a natural blend of essential oils and valerian, which works on a variety of species alongside their natural relaxation pathways to help promote calmness and reduce stress and anxiety.

Cat Ward

Our kennels are specially designed “cat cubes” made of an opaque laminate with acrylic doors; meaning they avoid any “scary” reflections in the metal. They are also warmer and quieter (not to mention easier to clean). Each cube has a built-in resting perch to give cats their all-important vertical space, allowing them to survey their surroundings!

Our cat cubes are all located across one wall so that cats cannot see each other (as highly territorial predators, cats often find other cats very stressful and threatening); and we have a separate examination room within the ward where we can perform health checks, administer medications and obtain blood samples etc, away from view of other patients within the ward.

Every feline patient will be provided with some form of hide – be it a cosy bed to curl up in or a cardboard box for more privacy for those extra shy kitties. We have a range of feeding and water bowls, as well as different litter types, to accommodate the individual needs of our patients, and help them feel as “at home” as possible.

Small Mammal and Bird Ward

Our dedicated small mammal and bird ward is completely separate to our cat ward and reptile ward to provide our small furry and feathered patients with a relaxing, stress-free environment away from the sight, sound and smell of predators. 

We have a variety of hides, litter trays and substrates to provide a safe and familiar enclosure, along with an extendable run to allow exercise in a safe environment. 

We also have a range of cages for birds and smaller rodents such as hamsters, making us fully equipped for the huge variety of species we see on a regular basis. 

Reptile Ward

Our reptile ward is fully equipped with state-of-the-art vivariums in a range of sizes to suit all reptile species commonly kept as pets. Each vivarium has its own thermostatically controlled heat source along with ultraviolet lamps on electronic timers to provide an appropriate environment for the individual species to safely recuperate during their stay. 

A range of artificial plants, hides and rocks will also be offered to your scaly friend to ensure they can hide away and feel safe in their unfamiliar surroundings to reduce stress and fear.

Prep Room & Operating Theatre

Our modern operating facilities have also been designed with our smaller patients in mind. Our theatre boasts a heated table-top to help maintain body temperature during surgery, as anaesthetised patients are unable to self-regulate, and small patients such as cats, bunnies, rodents and birds lose heat much quicker than larger animals, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia. 

We can perform most surgeries at the Cats and Exotics clinic, however, more complex surgeries or procedures would be carried out at our main hospital on Stanhope Road. We have a range of anaesthetic agents and anaesthetic and surgical equipment specifically for the various species we treat, enabling us to provide a tailor-made anaesthetic protocol suitable for your individual pet.

Whilst we will always continue to adore our canine patients, at Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital, we recognise that dogs are the biggest stress on cat patients especially, regardless of whether or not the individual shares a home with other dogs – strange dogs are very scary and being able to simply smell other dogs when entering the practice can be enough to induce fear in a cat, which can make subsequent examination and treatments difficult for all involved. We will also continue to treat ferrets at the Stanhope Road surgery, as their natural predatory instincts can cause significant stress to our small furry patients. Of course cats and exotic patients will always be welcome at our Stanhope Road Hospital for those clients wishing to bring multiple pets at the same time, but we would encourage owners to take advantage of the new clinic wherever possible, as it is the well-being of your pets that has driven us to make these huge changes!

For more information, or to book an appointment with a member of our team at our Cats and Exotics Practice, please call 01325 620968 or email Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital at