A Good Relationship with Your Veterinarian

Maintaining good relations with your veterinarian

Photo by Tobyotter

Do you think about maintaining good relations with your vet? I think it pays dividends both in terms of peace of mind and also in receiving the best possible care for your cat. It is reassuring if you have a good vet and get along well. It’s the same with doctors.

It pays to shop around around for a good vet. There may be limited options because distance is important – cats are often bad travellers. Once you have a good vet, what can you do to keep the relationship pleasant and productive?

It pays to make sure that (a) one person communicates with the veterinarian when discussing the particular health problem concerned and (b) the person instructing the vet does it clearly and concisely. This helps the vet and makes her job easier. In order to do this the cat’s caretaker should really (a) have some cat health knowledge and (b) be observant. Knowledge and observation allows the cat caretaker to provide first class information to the vet. Provided the information is not delivered in an arrogant, demanding way this should please the vet because it make his job a bit easier. This also helps the relationship between client and vet.

It is worth saying, at this point, that the true “client” is the cat. The cat’s owner is acting as agent on behalf of the cat. She is in the position of a trustee or guardian. All decisions and discussions turn on what is best for the cat. Sometimes this simple truth can be forgotten.

There appears to be times of the week when your vet is more likely to perform at her best. Perhaps mornings are better than late afternoons. Cat health problems occurring on Sundays can be carried over to Monday, which, as a consequence, might be busier than usual. It might be sensible, if given a choice, to avoid Mondays. Saturdays can be busier than usual too; another day to avoid if possible.

On routine matters, the vet’s bill is possibly not that important but on substantial treatments or surgery the cat’s caretaker should discuss the cost and be clear on it before instructing the vet to proceed. Costs with respect to a particular health matter should include follow up treatments and dietary requirements  – all related expenses. There may be a lot of continuing treatments and medication. Money is a source of potential dispute. It is the potential cause of a breakdown in relations between cat owner and vet. The best way to keep things on an even keel is to get costs clear at the beginning so there are no surprises.

Clarity on instructions and on cost are important and so is making sure the cat’s caretaker is clear on what the veterinarian proposes in the way of surgery or treatment for her cat and the prospects of success etc. The cat caretaker should ask questions to make sure she is clear and satisfied. This avoids future problems and disputes and also helps to keep expectations in check. Also asking questions nicely, while not overdoing it, helps the cat’s owner to improve her knowledge of cat health. That can only benefit the relationship between vet and client for the future because it will lead to clearer instructions and realistic expectations.

Expectations and emotions should be kept in check. Both cat and person are anxious going to the vet. I think it pays to be as scientific and as objective as possible when discussing serious cat health problems. It can only benefit the cat and help maintain good relations with your vet. Obviously being objective does not preclude being pleasant at the same time.

When purchasing a cat, usually a pedigree purebred, it is wise to ask your vet to do a health check on the cat before the purchase. The idea here is not only to protect the purchaser but also to make the vet’s job more effective and pleasant. If an already purchased cat is health checked the vet may have the unsatisfying task of informing the purchaser of bad news and problems ahead. A vet’s work is made more satisfying if it genuinely helps the purchaser in a proactive way by doing a pre-purchase checkup.

Sometimes vets get things wrong and the staff are less than pleasant or efficient. If the vet has been selected well and the relationship has worked well in the past, the occasional problem with service should be overlooked because it might be due to pressure of work and we are all susceptible to mistakes and impoliteness under pressure.

It is probably better to take your cat to your vet for an annual check up. Provided you are not sold some treatments – and a good vet won’t do that – an annual check is both good for your cat and for maintaining a nice relationship with your vet.

Finally, the odd thank you gift will be rewarded in good service. This is not my forté but after Charlie’s operation and after Binnie’s euthanasia I sent a thank you card. The service had been excellent and it should remain that way.

Original photo on Flickr

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A Good Relationship with Your Veterinarian — 29 Comments

  1. Good article Michael. Bigfoot has an excellent vet. However, yesterday (Saturday) Bigfoot had an incident that was troubling. The short version is, after a fairly normal morning.. I was petting him, and he was shivering. He was purring loudly, and cats do wobble a bit when they purr, but this was actual shivering. My first impulse was to take his temperature (never easy) but instead I called the vets office. The receptionist asked the problem, I told her and she said I could drop him off and someone could look at him when they had time. They would leave him in a cage! Well, NO WAY IN HELL would I do that. I turned to google instead. The top hit was 8 reasons for shivering in cats. Hypoglycemia was the first three. I ran to look at his food, and he had not eaten in many hours..I took the suggestion and gave him first a thumb full of maple syrup on his nose, he licked it, I put more, he licked it. Then I gave him milk which I never ever do, but milk has lots of sugar so it made sense. I was surprised he lapped it up and within five minutes he was fine and I’ve been watching him like a hawk ever since. He continued his feast with regular cat food. I will take him to see his vet on Monday just to make sure all is well. I’ve read a number of articles since on POC that mostly pertain to feline diabetes and pancreas disorders. Bigfoot had full tests recently and is healthy, but another look never hurts.

    The part that bothers me is how the receptionist didn’t consider this to be an emergency. According to what I read, hypoglycemia in cats is dangerous to their brains and should be addressed promptly. The time it takes to get him there, then the wait could have been disastrous. There is a different emergency vet here that I have used, but they give every imaginable test covering all the bases because of no records…..shooting from the hip so to speak….and of course gathering huge revenues. Been there, done that a number of times.

    Bigfoot is becoming delicate in his old age. I must keep a watchful eye. Update soon.

    Sorry to ramble, but where else will I get the support and understanding than POC?

    • Dorothy you must have been so worried! I think that’s very wrong the receptionist saying drop him off they’d look at him sometime, sometime could have been too late!
      You did the right thing! We always kept glucose in for our Ebony when she was old and hadn’t eaten much, it soon perked her up.
      That receptionist is a danger to the practice, she obviously doesn’t know an emergency when she hears one!
      I hope Bigfoot goes on OK now, yes I’d have him checked by your own vet and let us know how he is, bless him x

      • Thank you Ruth. See what I mean about support? The best.

        Is glucose something I can get myself? Should I keep it on hand as well? Is it only available through the vet?

        Thanks again Ruth.

        • We can buy glucose powder here at any chemists, you probably can or in supermarkets too, just dissolve it in water, Ebby would lap it up herself.

          • From a USA site:
            ‘Glucose powder and solution are available from your local
            pharmacist. Make sure you have some available at all times incase of emergency. When treating hypoglycaemia aim to give1 gram of glucose per kilogram bodyweight. For example, a4 kilogram cat would require approximately 1 level teaspoon of glucose/sugar’

            You can rub a little of the glucose powder onto a cat’s gums instead if neccessary

              • Oh Dorothy I’m so sorry to hear that – you musthave been quite scared – I know that awful feeling. It sounds like you are on the right track and screw the stupid vets office you called.

                2 ironic things here – one is that Molly shivers. MAinly when she is sleeping or very close to it, her body has little shivery spasms, sometimes its quite noticeable like a hiccup for example. I have always been worried about it – I told my vet before her spay and they operated anyway.

                2nd ironic thing is a cat I know andlove called Mogi at my ex girlfriends house where I lived in Slovenia has something. He can’t meow and when he tries he makes a raspy little sound like a duck or something. It’s quite noticeable and worrying. My googling has given me Laringytis – he seems warm too as if he has a fever apparently. Otherwise he is behaving totally normally. When a cat who normally meows makes this wierd sound – I heard and saw him on Skype and it’s pretty odd and shocking.

                I’ve really learned something with the glucose. I must look into what I should have around the house for my cats.

    • I hope Bigfoot will be OK, Dorothy.
      I have been with my vet for over 25 years now, and I wouldn’t have been with him at all if I had gotten a response like you did from your vet’s office. I have no tolerance for a third party running interfence between me and any healthcare professional. I feel that the receptionist should have HEARD what you were saying, consulted your vet, and given you a more informed answer. And, I believe that the answer you should have gotten was to bring Bigfoot in and he would be worked in.
      I am the biggest b-tch in the world when it comes to the health of my cats. I’m less than charming.

      • Thanks Dee. I agree and I will make a loud protest. I think this was a day in a life incident with Mr. Big, and/or maybe another turning point. Bigfoot is my little bedroom kitty and must stay well! I have no idea how old he is, but in the last two years he has lost about 2lbs. He is a skinny butt, and a fussy eater. Long in the tooth. I suspect he is old.

        • Fingers crossed for Bigfoot – he is so beautiful and I hope he will enjoy his position as bedroom kitty for many years so come. I know it’s a real scary shock when their health seems compromised – I just hope it’s something that is manageable if it’s anything serious at all. Get well soon Bigfoot. Sending cuddles from Switzerland 🙂

          • Thank you Marc. Every cuddle helps! Is Molly purring when she shutters? Bigfoot has lots of shuttering when he is purring and can be mistaken for shivers. I knew the shivering was different.

            He seems fine now. Keeping a watchful eye.

            I had a cat many years ago who’s meow changed permanently to a gravel sound. I never did figure that one out. Her name was Ketzel. Let us know what you find out with Mogi.

    • DW that was a very interesting but slightly upsetting ramble. I have never written on hypoglycemia in cats. I have had it myself sometimes but very rarely. Last time was years ago.

      I’ll use your comment as the basis for an article on this because it is interesting. I am surprised shivering is the symptom for cats. In humans it is more likely to be feeling a bit faint and sweating. That is what happens to me.

      I am very glad you cured him. Great work. Well done DW.

  2. Luckily we have a good vet, Kathryn, who we feel we can trust now but also a ‘back up’ one, Pavel, who thank goodness was on duty last Sunday when Jozef’s leg was bothering him. It turned out to be a bite and he’d have been quite poorly by Tuesday when we had the appointment with Kathryn for his allergy check up.
    Having worked with both good vets and bad vets I find it hard to trust any of them until we get to know how they treat our cats. Having lost Popsy because none of the vets at our previous practice diagnosed her problem and didn’t tell us there was a cat chest specialist not far away, until it was too late, we changed practices. But they have quite a few vets and I find it very traumatic now when we have to go with our boyz.
    Knowing what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ sometimes isn’t a good thing really!

    • I can see that knowing too much about a veterinary practice can make things more tricky.

      I think it is important to have a really good vet you can trust completely and have a good relationship with them because going to the vet is full of difficulties and anxiety. It is for me and Charlie anyway.

      Knowing the vet is good helps calm me down a bit.

  3. As I have mentioned before, I have been with my vet for over 25 years. He is preparing to retire, and he has 3 other vets that he will be recommending to his clients. It’s sort of sad that of the 60 or more vets around me, only 3 meet his standards.
    It will be a hard transition for me; but, I’ll choose one of the 3.
    There are very specific things that I look for in a vet:
    I expect integrity – no violation of “do no harm”
    I expect openness and honesty – I don’t like being “spared” or coddled
    I expect to be listened to
    I expect to be the final decision maker
    I expect true compassion and caring – I want my cats treated as if they
    were their own

    • It’s devastating when the vet you know and trust retires, I hope the new one you choose Dee will be as good as the one you are losing.

      • Thanks.
        I know you went through it too.
        I hate it! His wife won’t let him move in here so I can use his brain every day. LOL!

        • lol I wanted to marry a vet to have our very own but none of them asked me lol lol even the ones without wives 🙁

            • Take a good time out.
              I’m still so sorry over the loss.
              We all have to just stop sometimes to feel.
              As they say, “It cuts like a knife”.

            • So sad for you. I often think about Binnie when thinking of our own losses, she will never be forgotten Michael while you and your PoC family are still around.
              I’ve been sad lately too, lots of anniversaries for Babz and I this time of the year, our dear mother died 19 years ago last Wednesday, I still cried even all these years later. Babz wedding anniversary and her John’s birthday are coming up in December and our mam’s birthday,
              But memories come back all year round, sometimes my heart feels it can’t hold any more loss and sadness, I suppose this happens as we get older ourselves because we lose more loved ones, human and feline too.
              A good cry and I’m ready to fight again for the living….

    • Dee that’s a good list of wants. I’m so sorry to hear you will have to change vets. That is a big deal really isn’t it. I mean I hope succeed in finding a smooth and acceptably transition. Hopefully you can find a very kind and decent proffessional replacement who is nearby.

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