An Unconventional Approach to Relieve Staff Stress

June 5, 2017
Daniel Hoffman, MD

My practice made an unexpected visitor a way to relax both employees and patients.

My office is located in a strip mall. Behind it is a small wooded area surrounded by apartment buildings. My front-desk receptionist just loves animals. She noticed that there was a stray cat living in the bush around the trees and started leaving food for it to prevent it from starving.

After a few weeks, the cat would let her reach down and stroke it. Eventually it started following her into the office where the rest of the staff immediately adopted it. I am not necessarily a cat person, but I quickly found that the cat, now named Thomas, was an extremely gentle animal who never bites or scratches. He stays in the back of the office and has no interest in the hallway or the examination rooms. He lays on the floor or counter and the practice staff really enjoy rubbing him and listening to his purring. I have noticed that the staff is more relaxed with Thomas.

Over the winter we had him fixed and vaccinated. He likes to be outside but will come to the back door and meow until the girls let him inside. If there is bad or very cold weather, he just stays in the office overnight as he has a bed and litter box in the very back of the office. I have been surprised at the number of patients that enjoy looking at him asleep on the back counter when they check in or out of our practice.

Thomas has been with us for almost a year and we have never had a problem with him being in the way. The girls put a towel on one of the chairs and he jumps up there and sleeps on the towel. He does occasionally like to sharpen his from claws but only ever does that on the back of the chair where he sleeps.

I have to admit that Thomas is an asset to the practice as the patients like him and he certainly relaxes the tension the staff get during a busy work day.