I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Jay Luger, veterinarian and owner of the newly opened Forest Hills Cat Hospital in Middle Village. He took me on a tour of his Hospital.
First, here's some background on Dr. Luger. He graduated from the New York State Veterinary College at Cornell University in 1969. He is currently a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). For more than twenty-five years he has been a member of the Research Committee of the AAFC and for more than twelve years, he served as chairperson of that committee.
Dr. Luger founded the Forest Hills Cat Hospital in 1974. At the time the idea of a dedicated feline hospital was unheard of because small animal practices were primarily geared to the care of dogs. Nowadays there are more than 200 feline only practices in the United States. The Forest Hills Cat Hospital is the oldest feline only practice under single owner proprietorship east of the Mississippi. The No Bark environment is designed to lower the stress levels of the resident felines.
During the course of over thirty years, the Forest Hills Cat Hospital has trained several young men and women and inspired them to enter the ranks of the veterinary profession. They have also trained more than a dozen men and women via cooperative arrangement with the Veterinary Technology Program at La Guardia Community College, an internship program at Russell Sage Junior High School and other schools, to begin careers as veterinary technicians.
The hospital occupies 2,500 square feet at its current location in Middle Village. The services provided at the Hospital include a network of rooms equipped for Emergencies, Imaging, Internal Medicine, Lab Services, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Surgery, Vaccinations, Worming, Fleas, other Parasites and also Boarding, if you need to be away for a while and cannot take your cat along.
It was amazing to see the many areas where the services are provided. There are two examination rooms, an operating room, X-Ray area, dental area, an isolation area for the cats with contagious conditions and other rooms where all the various medical procedures take place.
Dr. Luger is supported at the Hospital with a reliable and loyal staff, including two other veterinarians – Helen Tuzio, DVM, Diploma's ABVP (feline practice) – Senior Associate Dr. Tuzio has been an Associate at the Forest Hills Cat Hospital since 1991. She was graduated with Honors from Ross University, and then completed a post- doctoral clinical year at Purdue University. There are fewer than 100 veterinarians in the United States who have earned the distinction of Diplomat in feline medicine.
The other veterinarian on staff is Dr. Matthew Nebel who received a BS degree from Syracuse University and studied Veterinary medicine in Parma, Italy where he earned his DVM degree in 1984. He then did an internship at the Animal Medical Center in NYC and studied surgery with Dr. Martin DeAngelis who was the staff orthopedist at the Animal Medical Center for 13 years.
Dr. Luger introduced me to his personnel and was proud to state the amount of loyal years of employment so many on his staff have achieved. There are four technicians employed at the Hospital – Liz, Head Technician, Theresa, Kelly and Kim, plus three or four employees who are at the front desk to greet you.
He also introduced me to his resident cats, all of them sad stories of how they became residents at the Hospital. Once you meet these special felines you realize that the people who gave them up were the losers and the Forest Hills Cat Hospital the winner in that exchange! There is Stevie, a cat blind in both eyes and Wonder, his sister who has one eye. I met Mamasita who is 11 yrs old, and has one eye as well. Her other eye was removed because it was pre-cancerous. I was introduced to the other resident cats also and they are all friendly and curious, as you would expect a cat to be.
Here's an interesting piece of information. Dr. Luger stated that the resident cats have a job. They are the blood donors, if necessary, when a sick cat needs a transfusion. I found that fascinating and Dr. Luger did state that after the age of eight, their blood donor career is over and they are retired. There you have it, several cats that had no future where they were, end up in Forest Hills Cat Hospital and actually have saved other cats' lives. Talk about a productive life, how lucky are these little felines!
I also saw the heated cages that the cats occupy and how roomy they are so the cats can travel from one area to another. If you are a cat and you have to be boarded or need medical help, Forest Hills Cat Hospital is the place you want to be!
Dr. Luger's daughter, Sarielle, designed the eye-catching awning on the front window as well as the logo. Dr. Luger is married to a veterinarian, Dr Zita Goldfinger, and as luck would have it, she became allergic to cats and dogs!
Dr. Luger told me an interesting story of when his first office was on Austin Street in Forest Hills, hence the name, The Forest Hills Cat Hospital. He said that someone came running into that office one day to say that a cat had gotten its paw stuck in the escalator at the nearby Barnes & Noble store. Dr. Luger and his staff rushed over to the store, anesthetized the cat, managed to pull the paw out of the clutches of the escalator and rushed the cat back to their nearby Hospital on Austin Street. PS, the cat lived, paw intact, and the young girl who was carrying the cat on her shoulder when it jumped down onto the escalator got in big time trouble with her parents! But, there was definitely a happy ending for that cat!
Another nice moment in Dr. Luger's career that he wants mentioned, The Juniper Valley Animal Hospital under the stewardship of veterinarian, Dr. Matthew McCarthy, which is located on 69th Lane near Juniper Boulevard South, sent The Forest Hills Cat Hospital an Edible Fruit arrangement to welcome them to Middle Village. Dr. Luger was heart warmed by that very nice, friendly gesture, welcoming him to the neighborhood.
There you have it. Trust me, I can go on writing about Dr. Luger and his cats and how he got to the point he is at today in his career but space limits this article. At some point perhaps we can do an article on Dr. Luger and his many connections to academia and how he stays on top of all the current research with regard to his passion, cats.
As I spoke to Dr. Luger we got to talking about how dogs and cats are constantly being compared to each other, how one is so in need of attention and the other so aloof, and we both agree, people have to stop that futile pastime. Both animals are beautiful and smart and come into our lives with their own unique characteristics. Comparison of the two is a waste of time and it is their differences that should be celebrated. Enjoy both species for the love and devotion they are each equipped to shower on us so freely.
This is interesting and will help you expand your vocabulary with a new word, a person who loves cats is known as an ailurophile (cat lover). When you are in the Forest Hills Cat Hospital you definitely realize how much they love their cats and if you have a cat and he/she needs boarding or medical attention, Forest Hills Cat Hospital is where you want to go. What a nice, welcome addition to our neighborhood!
I've invited Dr. Jay Luger to our September 24th JPCA Town Meeting at Our Lady of Hope Auditorium and hopefully he can attend and you can all meet him and maybe talk to him a little bit. He is definitely a personable and interesting guy!