Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Clipnosis Came to Be – A Guest Blog by Dr. Tony Buffington

I am very happy to see Clipnosis become available to cat lovers everywhere. This product is the result of a dinner conversation. We were talking with a feline practitioner friend from France when the topic of clipnosis came up. Although the technique has been known for many years – some cat veterinarians describe it as their “third hand” - a variety of clips were used since no one had ever developed anything specifically for this use, or studied it much in cats.

Other than seemingly calm the cat, there wasn’t even much known about the effects on the cat. I had cats in my laboratory at the time with a disease syndrome called “feline interstitial cystitis”, so we decided to test the technique on them. A student working in the lab, Megan Pozza, started to investigate the effects of Clipnosis on the physiology and behavior of our cats. We found that the cats responded well to the clips, which didn’t change their heart rate, blood pressure or temperature, all signs of stress, and when the clips were removed, the cats stayed relaxed or continued what they were doing. Their continued relaxed behavior suggested that the clips probably didn’t hurt them, since they didn’t try to flee. We also noticed that the cats seemed to relax more the more often we used the clips with them. In fact, many of the cats would lie down when they saw the clips on the exam table.

With this background, we decided to try the clips on some of our own cats, and those of our students. We had the same experience with the cats, although some of the students were concerned that the clips would hurt the cats – until they saw how relaxed the cats were during and after being clipped. We had some similar experiences with doctors in the hospital, until they saw what happened and recognized that the cats were showing signs of relaxation rather than distress.

During our studies, we noticed that the pressure exerted by the clips we were using wasn’t always consistent, so we contacted Dr. Steve Tsengas at OurPets to see if he might be interested in creating a more consistent product. I have known Dr. Steve for many years; he helped me with a food treat toy I wanted to make available during the 1990s. The product was licensed to Steve, who had the clip designed, tested, and brought to market.

Our purpose is to improve the lives of cats through education of cat owners about “how cats are”, and we developed clipnosis in the service of this mission. By building on a natural reflex of cats, the clip can calm cats for nail clipping and other grooming procedures, physical examination, and minor treatments recommended by veterinarians. Like all devices, it takes a bit of practice to learn to use, both for the owner and the cat. I recommend that owners use it the first couple of times without doing anything else, just to get some practice. Cats should be clipped smoothly and gently when they already are relaxed, and praised and given a treat when the clips are removed. Once they become comfortable with this, one can begin to use the clips for other purposes. A relaxed cat is easier to work with, which also relaxes the owner, so both parties can benefit from interactions made easier by Clipnosis.

C. A. Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, DACVN
Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Adjunct Professor of Urology
The Ohio State University Veterinary Center

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