There's no mistaking the fact that cats take center stage at Dr. W. Mark Cousins' New Orleans practice. Before you even enter the building, you see a larger-than-life mural featuring whimsical cats and their shadows on the outside of the historic 1850s building.
When The Cat Practice was ravaged by fire in 2002, Dr. Cousins was forced to rebuild. (See "Extensive Fire Damage Forces Rebuild" online at
http://www.vetecon.com/) And while Dr. Cousins obviously wishes the fire hadn't happened, he managed to use the opportunity to spur a positive move for his practice, starting with a strong showing for his team's commitment to cats.
Award-Winning Floor Plan
Dr. Cousins, Dipl. ABVP (feline), the only boarded feline practitioner in the state of Louisiana, says his ABVP status is the most important reason he does what he does—and he thought a facility commensurate with his level of medical expertise was important. "I wanted to set cats apart and give cat owners the impression that the practice is unlike any veterinary hospital they've seen from the minute they walk in," says Dr. Cousins.
To achieve that goal, Dr. Cousins furnished the practice with soft upholstered furniture, floral arrangements, and an area rug. "The color block modern-art rug lends an immediate artistic feel to the practice and complements the practice's location in the Arts district of New Orleans," Dr. Cousins says. He also placed an artist's rug that's designed to look like a koi pond in the cattery. Overall, he says, he strived for a balance between artistic flair and a sense of peace. He even installed a fountain in the cattery to keep cats calm.
Left: Dr. Cousins found this unique set of picture frames on a buying trip to New York. He bought 250 of the frames, then snapped pictures of his patients to create a tribute to cats. He occasionally rotates pictures when he gets new patients to sit pretty for a portrait. Top right: The treatment area on the second floor has a wet side and a dry side with a dividing column. Both sides feature plumbed oxygen and wall-mounted surgery lighting fixtures. Bottom right: The surgery suite sits adjacent to the hospital area and doctors enter through a separate glass door. A glass window lets staff members and clients see the doctors in action.
"It's not home, but we try to make it as comfortable for our cats and their owners as possible," he says. "If the mural and name don't make it absolutely clear, we hope that when you walk in you get the picture that we're all about cats."
The 2005 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition judges got the picture. They found The Cat Practice worthy of a Merit Award for its design elements, use of a tight space, fit within the community, and fun atmosphere.