Finding a veterinarian that both you and your cat are comfortable with should be a top priority for all pet owners. This article will hopefully help new pet owners find the right veterinarian. It is important to put some thought into this as your veterinarian will be an important part of your pet’s life for many years to come.
Well, he should have a good bedside manner with both you and your cat. He should be willing to communicate with you and give you clear and proper explanations as to what he is doing and why.
- He should have a love of cats (and all animals in fact).
- He should have a passion for his job.
- He should be up to date on the latest medical techniques and be continually upgrading his knowledge and skills.
- He should be available to answer your questions over the phone, should this be necessary. Obviously, vets aren’t going to always be available to chat to us the moment we call, but you should be able to leave a message and have them call you back when they are available.
Luckily, most veterinarians do meet the above criteria. But putting in the time to find one who suits you really can not be emphasised enough. If you do not have a good and open rapport with your veterinarian, decisions can not always be met with all the information you require to do what is best for your cat.
How to find a good veterinarian:
Ask friends, neighbours and on local social media groups for recommendations, do a web search for the doctors and look for Google reviews. Does the practice you are considering have a Facebook page? If so, what are the visitors saying?
When getting feedback from other people, questions to ask may include:
- Why do they like this veterinarian?
- How long have they used him?
- Any negatives?
If possible, ask your local vets if it is possible to visit the practice to meet the staff, check out their facilities and find out what services they offer.
Personally, I have my favourite veterinarian, but he doesn’t offer a 24-hour emergency service. However, as I am comfortable with him, and most visits can be done during business hours then I am happy with this. However, it is always important to have a backup emergency vet in the event of a nighttime emergency.
Once you have shortlisted your choice, pay the surgery a visit to meet the staff. Look at the practice. Does it look clean and sterile? How are the staff? Do they seem friendly and open to communication? Are they approachable?
Is the location convenient to you? What is the parking like? This is certainly a factor but it wouldn’t be a deciding factor. I would prefer to drive 20 – 30kms out of the way to visit a vet I felt comfortable with. But it is something to consider when choosing a veterinarian.
Questions you may wish to ask include:
- Are cats and dogs caged in separate areas?
- Do they offer an emergency/after hours service?
- Price: Don’t choose your veterinarian based on price alone. Ask if they have payment options, if they accept health insurance for pets, if they take credit cards, cheques etc.
- Opening hours: Check what hours they’re open and if they fit in with your schedule. Ie: if you work full-time, are they open on weekends or do they have extended opening hours on certain days of the week?
- Are appointments required? If so, what happens if you have a medical emergency with your pet?
- What kind of services do they offer? Can they do any in-house tests such as blood work and other diagnostic tests? What about x-rays, ultrasound, do they specialise in any specific treatments?
- Do they specialise in any particular animal? They may or may not, but also if it is a practice with several veterinarians there may be one specific veterinarian at the practice who does have a special interest in your chosen pet (be it cat, dog, ferret etc).
- Do they do house calls for certain procedures such as routine vaccinations? This may not be important to some people but it could be convenient if the owner is disabled or doesn’t own a car.
- If you are a breeder, does the vet offer breeder discounts?
- If you are a breeder and sell your cats desexed, do they perform early desexing?
Ultimately, if you are not happy then find another veterinarian. It is important for both you and your pet(s) to feel comfortable with your vet. Don’t choose a vet on convenience or price alone.