How to Choose the Right Veterinarian For Your Cat
By:Dr. Chyrle Bonk
Author: Dr. Chyrle Bonk
Dr. Chyrle Bonk is an associate veterinarian since 2010 and was a volunteer for Clearwater County Youth 4H. Dr. Bonk contributed to various animal and veterinary related websites and magazines as a way to help keep animals across the globe safe and healthy. When Chyrle not working she spends her time with her own furry crew of dogs, cats, and horses.View all 7 articles Learn about our editorial process
Updated on: 17/04/2020
You’ve just chosen the perfect kitty companion, now it’s time to choose their doctor. If you don’t think that this is as important as say, choosing your cat’s food, think again. Your cat’s veterinarian is going to be the one that you come to with questions about preventative medicine, diet, behavior, and illnesses. They may be the one spaying or neutering, the one that diagnoses and treats all lumps, bumps, and upset tummies along the way, and the one that helps them live comfortably in seniorhood. For these reasons, and many more, be sure to choose your cat’s veterinarian wisely.
When Should You Look For a Vet For Your Cat?
In a perfect world, you’ll have a terrific vet in your back pocket before your new feline friend crosses the threshold into your home, but let’s face it, it’s not a perfect world. Maybe instead, you’re looking for a new vet because of a move or because your preferred vet retired. Either way, try to find a new veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s important to get your kitty comfortable with a veterinarian before it’s something serious. So, don’t wait until you need one, try to choose one right away.
How Do You Find a Veterinarian?
There are many avenues to go down to find a good vet. First and foremost would be my recommendation, either first hand or from reviews. Seek out opinions from friends and family with cats. No one will be more reliable than someone with first-hand experience that you trust. If family and friends aren’t available veterinary resources for you, search review sites like Yelp or Google or even ask at local pet stores and shelters. If you’re still stuck, the American Animal Hospital Association provides a list of accredited veterinarians in your specific area.
What Should I Look For When Choosing a Vet?
Cats can be tricky when it comes to being patients and they can be picky when it comes to letting others work with them. Because of this, don’t be afraid to do some trial runs with new veterinarians to help find a glove-like fit for the lifelong health of your kitty. On those trial runs, here are some things to look for.
Is the veterinary practice conveniently located or will you be driving across town during rush hour to make appointments? Also, the closer and easier to get to the better if you’re ever faced with an emergency.
Is the building clean or is there trash in the parking lot and a wall of cat urine smell that hits you when you walk in? A clean and tidy workspace typically means that those in charge care about their business and, therefore, their patients.
Were you greeted when you walked through the door? Were the receptionists and technicians friendly, helpful, and happy to be there? The more welcoming the staff is to you, the more likely they are to be welcoming to your kitty. You can also check credentials. Are there certified technicians on staff or how many vets are in practice? All of this will help give you a clue as to the kind of care your kitty will receive.
The vet’s bedside manner will tell you a lot about the care your cat will receive at this clinic. Even if a vet is the greatest diagnostician the world has ever known, if they can’t speak politely to you or handle your cat with care, it’s not worth it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions just to gauge their willingness to respond. If a veterinarian is going to be taking care of your kitty for the long haul, you need to be comfortable asking them anything and also to know that they are all in as well.
Your Cat’s Reaction
Now, this can be a tough one as some kitties get so stressed by the idea of a car ride and then the poking and prodding that comes with a veterinary visit that they’re not going to like anyone. But if they seem overly stressed by the way they’re being handled or the environment, it might not be a good fit. On the other hand, maybe this is the least stressed you’ve seen your cat during a vet visit and they actually seem to be enjoying themselves…a little bit anyway. Then you know you’re making the right choice.
The Technical Side
You may be interested in the type of equipment that practice has or doesn’t have. Some cat parents prefer a state of the art devices, while others may be more comfortable with age-old diagnostics. Don’t be afraid to ask what a veterinary clinic has in store in the way of bells and whistles or even to ask how they do things in general.
Try and Try Again
If your first or even your fourth veterinary appointment doesn’t create a lifelong match, keep browsing. There’s no harm in sampling the field until both you and your kitty are satisfied. The veterinarian that you choose should have it all: convenience, topnotch medical skills, bedside manner, affordability, and compassion. Also, it may sound silly, but belief in what your gut is telling you. You may feel that practice is a bad choice without really being able to put your finger on why. Or you may also feel like you and your kitty have found the perfect partner for lifelong healthcare just based on your gut reaction.
Your veterinarian should be viewed as a member of your cat’s team, a team that is responsible for keeping your kitty happy and healthy for as long as possible. When choosing members of this team, you’ll want to take into account many factors, not the least of which is how comfortable your cat is with a veterinarian and clinic. Other preferences are up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Having a veterinarian that’s invested in your cat is one of the keys to lifelong health and longevity.
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