Which Veterinarian Would You Choose For Your Cat?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

This is likely to turn into a very controversial article on which veterinarian is better for your cat. During my many decades of dealing with different vets, I’ve found most fall into one of two categories. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, influenced by everything from being proactive for your cat to being proactive about your hard earned dollars.

caring veterinarian

Collage by Ruth aka Kattaddorra.


The veterinarian who does everything. This is easiest to describe based on Sealys very expensive care as he healed from a car fan blade accident. This is how a typical visit goes when you take in a sick or injured cat.

First, Sealy was escorted into a hallway by a vet technician where his carrier was placed on a scale to get his weight. Then he was placed into an examination room and removed from his carrier, which was taken out and weighed to determine what Sealy weighed. The vet tech then placed a stool checking stick into him and the stool was sent to the next room to be tested. This puts the bill at $26 right off the bat.

Next Sealy had his temperature taken (double rectal violation, as Furby would put it). After this the vet comes into the room and does a very complete exam. He orders blood work to test for possible problems. A sterile urine specimen is also taken. Another $50+ for each test done. I want to add this exam included a hand exam as well as checking Sealy over using a stethoscope. His ears were also thoroughly examined and he was found to have a yeast infection. Add another $25 for ear yeast infection medication to take home with us. Sealy had a temperature and was given an antibiotic injection as well as a bottle of Clavamox. Add another $50 for the two antibiotics.

Sealy was also determined to be a bit dehydrated, so add another $32 for sub-Q fluids given while in the exam room. Chances are Sealy would need to receive the fluids for the next few days with numerous vet visits. I explained to the vet that Laura and I both know how to administer these at home, and Sealy’s vet agreed this was fine and sold us the bag of fluid as well as the tubing and needles used to administer. Add another $35(much cheaper than returning to the vet for multiple treatments).

On top of all of this, there’s a $40 exam charge. Grand total for the first visit was almost $300. Diagnosis given was Sealy had an internal infection from the car fan blade injury as well as a yeast infection in his left ear canal.


This is the vet who has decades of experience and bases a lot of his diagnosis on his experience. He checks weight, temperature and does a basic exam. The charge for this is around $30. There are no blood tests, urinalysis or worm checks unless requested or his vet experience tells him more tests are needed. An injection to jump start the antibiotic may or may not be given, depending on whether the cat companion wants to pay the extra expense. A basic visit will usually run under $75, including medication sent home with the cat. This vet expects you to trust his judgment based on decades of hands-on experience.


Veterinarians are facing the predicament a lot of doctors face. If a misdiagnosis is given, the cat companion may turn the vet into the AVMA or begin legal action based on any negative effects(including death) the cat may face as a result. Without running necessary veterinary tests, a vet can easily be proven negligent should a case go to trial.

I read in an issue of Reader’s Digest that one of the top pet peeves of a vet is a pet owner’s unwillingness to allow tests a vet believe critical in the care of their cat. This is usually a monetary issue. Still, it needs addressing because a veterinarian may not be able to offer satisfactory care until he learns what is ailing the sick or injured kitty. Even with decades of experience, there are numerous conditions a cat can hide that only blood work or a urinalysis can confirm.

Sealy’s vet also has a disclaimer that must be signed before surgery should a cat owner deny blood work being done before surgery. Especially on older cats where an unknown geriatric condition could affect the cat during or after an operation. I had to sign this before the first surgery. Sealy didn’t have to have a repeat of his blood work as he’d had it done the week before.


Well, that’s a really tough question to answer. It’s not only based on money, but on how far a cat companion is willing to go to treat a medical condition. Unfortunately, cost may also play a role in whether a cat companion will return to either of these vets in the future. No one wants unnecessary medical tests run. Who determines what’s necessary? And no one want’s a $300+ vet bill for something simple and easily treated.

This is a very difficult decision to make when you have a sick cat. It’s made more difficult when you have a cat with a serious medical condition. What if you make the wrong decision on which vet is best? Your cat could die! If you spent a fortune on your last visit, it may influence your decision to return to that vet. Even if the more expensive vet is the one better suited in a life or death situation.

The same holds true for the less expensive vet. What if this vet misses an important diagnosis because of the unwillingness to do the tests needed to accurately determine what’s wrong with your cat. This may be caused by true lack of compassion for your cat, or he could be trying to save you money.

Regardless of which vet you’d choose, learn to speak up! You have to be proactive for your cat. Your cat may exhibit symptoms to help the vet out, but otherwise YOU are the voice for your cat!


A veterinary relationship between a cat companion and a veterinary clinic is based largely on trust. This also brings into play past experience with the clinic. Was the staff friendly? Was your cat cared for as the unique individual your cat is? These are only two of the questions you should ask yourself.

I have used several veterinarians over the past few decades, and most fall into one of the two categories I’ve described. There is a happy medium with either that’s determined by how well my vets understand me as well as my cats. Each case is different. Some tests can be forfeited and readdressed at the check up that occurs a week after the initial visit should the cat not show marked improvement.

I learned quickly to speak up and tell my vet we have the B-12 injections at home that we can administer ourselves and save the injection fee of $25 each. An entire bottle can be purchased at farm and garden stores or ordered online without a prescription. I do ask for the suggested dosage and how often injections are needed. The same holds true with administering sub-Q fluids.

Don’t be afraid to speak up about any concerns you may have about treatment. If done correctly, you’ll earn the respect of your veterinarian.


Great vets will call you a day or two after the visit to ensure the treatment is working. This shows a respect for your cat as well as respect for the person in charge of care. It also shows a very organized veterinary clinic. When you consider the cost of a visit, we should all expect a phone call a day or two later-it’s common courtesy. It’s also a great time to discuss any problems you may have, from giving medication to worsening of symptoms. I would imagine a lot of cats owe their lives to a vet who called to check on them, then insisted on a return visit before the follow up is due. Sometimes we may take for granted a symptom the vet needs to know about. Even if the return call is made by a vet tech, many of these wonderful people are as knowledgeable as the person in charge of care. Don’t be afraid to bend the ear of a vet tech while you’ve got her on the phone.

Cat Annabelle on Drugs


I’ve had both types of vets for care of my cats ever since I began caring for cats in 1982. Sealy and Cocoa had some very expensive care while they were recovering from their respective infections. I’m glad they had a lot of tests performed, although I almost passed out at some of the totals for their treatment. There’s nothing like seeing all the cell counts and protein counts and all the other counts that only a sophisticated test can diagnose. Sometimes the cat couldn’t be saved, but at least we had the best of care available.

I have a cheaper vet for routine care and small problems. Our deaf cat Annabelle had a very strange accident involving a kitchen drawer. Annabelle got her claw hung in a drawer roller, and we were afraid she had broken her paw. Her story is at Deaf cat Annabelle has an accident. Please read this article, as it tells about an unexpected injury that can happen under the kitchen cabinet.

I took Annabelle to the less expensive vet clinic I use. No x-rays were taken because this vet assured me her leg wasn’t broken. He’s been a vet for over 50 year, so I trusted him on this matter. Annabelle was given medication for inflammation and pain, with a follow up visit for three days later. Her bill for everything came to $120. I consider this reasonable considering the injury. Her vet was correct and her paw was only sprained

If I’d taken her to Sealys vet, she would have been put through the worm check, temperature check, blood work and x-rays. Not to mention the cost of medication and the higher vet exam on top of that. Annabelle didn’t need all of that and was back to her usual self within three days. I took her home with three pain injections to give her should she need them.

I’m on good terms with the clinic I used for Annabelle. All routine vet care is done by them. This is the same vet who did the neuterings in the story Furby wrote for PoC. It’s at Our Broken Cats Got Fixed By Furby.

I’m also on excellent terms with Sealys vet. I’ve learned to speak up to save a few dollars, or poor Sealy would have had a worm check every WEEK for 5 months while he was under active treatment.


I hope this helps you in deciding which care is best for your cat. I always get a written record on any cat I take to either on my vets. That way, if care ever overlaps with two clinics seeing the same cat over the course of several years, the attending vet has a record of what’s been done at the other clinic.

This may sound like I’m being disloyal to a vet, but with time off and emergency clinic hours being covered by a system of vets, most vets are accustomed to more than one vet seeing a cat during it’s lifetime.

Your comments are welcome.


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Which Veterinarian Would You Choose For Your Cat? — 20 Comments

  1. Very interesting post, Elisa, thanks for sharing. As you have a big family you have a lot of vet experience so are well qualified to comment.

    It does come down to cost sadly. Even the best cat carers have to consider the expense and often the best cat carers don’t have much disposable money. Ultimately health costs money and it doesn’t matter if it’s about people or animals.

    That is why the best vet is the one who uses all his experience to decide how to ensure that the client (the person) and the patient (the cat) gets the best value out of a vet visit.

    For me the best vets don’t automatically do routine tests. They use their experience to get to the point quickly (i.e. make a diagnosis) and then do tests to confirm or contradict their diagnosis.

    I think a good vet has to factor in value for money. Vets who do routine test will justify the process as necessary when often it is a way of building in extra costs.

  2. Hi Elisa,

    I’m sure every pet guardian will find this article to be important and very useful. I would guess that the comments section will add quite a bit of wisdom as well.

    It depends upon the cat’s situation and how much I like the vet’s office and staff.

    Another important factor is how much I trust the necessity of x number of tests a vet tends to take compared to other vets.

    I’ve had experiences with a lot of vets and some have seemed incompetent while others have seemed greedy about trying to push too many seemingly unnecessary tests. Those are the two types of vets I avoid.

    In fact, I mostly avoid a clinic a few blocks from my house because they are too greedy. That’s too bad because it’s a high end pet hospital and it used to be great until a new vet bought the practice.

    When she came in and bought it, she cut the number of vets in half, fired all the older non-vet staff, and hired a bunch of underqualified staff – all in their 20’s.

    Furthermore, she and her one remaining vet push tests like crazy every visit. They made it clear that it was all about the fancy and expensive over-testing. They are clearly focused on as much profit per visit and brutally cutting back on expenses. They didn’t really explain much either. Just more and more tests. I went there a few times hoping they would ease up, but when they didn’t, I switched vets.

    The next nearest vet I go to is a few miles away but I drive there because I both like and trust the vet there. He is competent, honest, and reasonably thorough. He seems to care more than most vets. Another thing I liked is he teaches me quite a bit on every visit. He explains everything including each step of each exam. He’s amazing and he has my loyalty.

    Excellent topic.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=


  3. Yes sadly nowadays with some vets, tests are the first thought in their minds, without even a thorough physical examination and a good talk with the animal’s caretaker to get all the details which build up a picture of the animal’s life and possible health problem as they used to do before all the testing technology was available.
    I dread going to the vets with our cats, having worked with both good and bad vets, the ones I knew and trusted have all retired now.
    We need to not be in awe of vets, we need to ask questions, is that test really necessary?
    We are only too glad to pay for necessary tests and treatment (although standing there while the receptionist tots up the total is scary) but it’s not right for vets to profit through peoples ill pets.

    • By the way Ruth I really like the poster. And what a perfect quote you have used. It really puts things into perspective. Hopefully many people see your posters.

      • Thank you Marc. I’m so glad when any of my posters are used, so was happy to see one pop up on here.
        I find it very relaxing when I have time to design a new one but at present am a bit stuck for new ideas after making so many.
        I met Alf Wight and he was a lovely kind man, he really cared about all his animal clients.

  4. This is all new to me so thanks for explaining something i didn’t really think about. I am right now amidst trying to choose a vet. I am not so keen on my nearest one but I am thinking maybe they just had a bad day. When I brought my two cats in for their spay appointment it was like they totally forgot the whole conversation we had a week before in their office when we arranged it. It was another assistant and I saw her put me down in the computer but i had to basically reintroduce myself with my 2 cats there right at the time of the operation. It was xmas time so maybe it was just not a good day. A year ago they did a fine job with Red. They knew him by name the second we camein through the door and I spoke to the vet who operated him afterwards and he seemed nice. Basic things that make me feel a bit better. Price in Switzerland is different. 2 spay operations and a first set of shots cost 600 US dollars. I was worried it would be more. Switz is expensive but then minimum wage is 20 bucks an hour. Nevertheless I will be getting insurance for all 3 of my cats. An emergency visit here costs a grand a night just to check on them overnight. (well the checking on them overnight is actually 700 but I guess there would be another 300 for the late night appointment and check over and meds). Right now I am avoiding the issue of taking them in for their second shot and stitches removed. I just dont want to do it. I can for sure get the stitches removed of Gigi myself. I also get nervous when it comes to vaccinations. I hate the VAC risk.
    I will see about another vet who is a little further and see if they are any different but I think pricewise its going to be the same. Still – its good to know about the different kinds of vets out there and to know its important to speak up and make sure they aren’t throwing on a worm check each time.

    • Is it fair to say that the USA vets are a bit more commercial in general to other vets? Not sure. Switzerland sounds expensive but high quality. My current vet is great. He routinely charges about £50 for visits of various kinds that includes an injection. He clearly is not out to make money from me as he operates from a good neighborhood of London. He even recommended not vaccinating my cat! Not many vets would do that. Euthanasia costs £48. Tomorrow I go the vet with Cardi and I think it will be her last journey. It is truly disturbing and upsetting. I hate it.

      • Michael has her health gotten much worse in the last week? Is she very uncomfortable? When you first got her she seemed ok right? That’s awfully sad.

    • We have insurance for Furby with PetPlan. Be sure to compare policies. Some won’t cover illnesses the company believes could have been prevented. Like distemper should you fail to vaccinate.

  5. Sealys vet is awesome. The word tender comes to mind and you can see how gentle he is with his patients. I think he’s just very thorough in his diagnosis techniques. He really loves his patients and doesn’t want to miss any hidden illness. His waiting room is always packed.

    I read the number one reason for euthanasia is the pet owner being unable to afford treatment. People these days lack the money necessary for treatments that in the past caused a disease to be fatal. Now the cat can be treated and perhaps survive but the price may by outrageous.

    I’m so sorry about Cardi. Please keep an eye on her body temp. Dying cats tend to turn very cold near the end. Wrap her up good and hold her to keep her warm. I hate to say it but you’re doing the right thing with her care. No need postponing the inevitable and waiting until she’s in pain.

    All of us here love you Michael. We’ll be here for you.

    • Thanks Elisa. You’re right. Cardi spends her time next to a hot radiator. “Tenderness” in a vet is everything because it shows concern and empathy and without that a vet is nothing but a machine in the business of making a living.

      People in the health business, animal or human really have to have empathy for living creatures, life, call it what you like. It is not enough to be knowledgeable and a skilled surgeon etc.

      Cardi’s health is very hard to deal with. I find it very upsetting.

  6. Our Jozef is at the vets today for an anaesthetic to look down his throat and see if something is stuck as he started constantly coughing yesterday and the vet couldn’t find a cause, his heart and lungs and chest are clear, she ran blood tests, all came back normal for his age.
    She have him antibiotics and steroid in the hopes it would help but he was still coughing today.
    The vet we saw yesterday was lovely and kind and gentle and explained everything to us, she worried about the cost of it all (£115 yesterday and how much today we daren’t even think) but to us that doesn’t matter as long as Jo gets put right.
    We are of course out of our minds with worry.
    It’s so heart rending walking away leaving your pet, I’m such a softie I cried all the way home. Waiting for a phone call now, it’s the longest morning ever …..

  7. Had the call, Jo is awake and fine, we can pick him up at 2.30 when the vet will see us and explain what’s wrong…I can’t wait to hold him again!

    • Glad to hear he is home. It is so upsetting leaving a loved one at the vet. Your whole world is turned upside down. I look forward to the post. Best wishes to Jo and his loving family.

  8. Thanks Dorothy, yes it’s awful walking away leaving a pet at the vets, Jo is half feral and hates being shut in, but apparently he’d been very good.
    We were so glad to get him home.
    I’ve sent his story to Michael.

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