Is Your Veterinarian your Cat’s Second-best Friend?

By Jo Singer

Erin, Samantha and Hubble at Vets

My vet and her assistant making a housecall to see: Sir Hubble Pinkerton — Photo by Jo SInger

The art of veterinary medicine has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years. With the wide range of modern diagnostic techniques and treatment options available today, veterinary medicine now offers our cats a much longer and healthier lifespan.

This said, in my experience I have found it’s not that easy to find just the right veterinarian. Being able to find a practitioner who gives me confidence and is highly skilled, who adores cats and is compassionate, patient and gentle, and of course someone with whom I feel comfortable has been far more difficult than finding an excellent doctor for myself.

In their training veterinarians learn a great deal about feline medicine. But as far as I am concerned there are few and far between who truly understand a cat’s nature. I have even run across some veterinarians who are scared of kitties. For example, a few years ago, an Emergency Room vet from another area who was accompanying one of my vets on an after-hours house call to tend to our very sick kitties wanted to be sure that our cats were “nice” before she felt comfortable enough to assist him.

I feel strongly that any veterinarian who is treating my cats should be their “second best” friend. Since we had an excellent veterinarian in New York when my husband and I moved to Florida years ago, we were faced with a huge challenge; finding an exceptional local veterinarian.

There were tons of veterinary clinic shingles hanging in our neighborhood, and advertisements galore in our local newspapers. But how were we going to make the right choice in getting the best practitioner. To say the least I was greatly concerned.

First we checked with friends for referrals, but following several visits to these clinics it was obvious that the scope of their practices was quite limited, and some weren’t even using recommended vaccine protocols. Most of the local veterinarians were not particularly sophisticated in the feline department. And having cats with chronic medical conditions required our finding someone who could handle these concerns without sending us off to specialists on a regular basis. I was getting very frustrated.

We wanted a practitioner who could provide both the routine veterinary care as our cats matured as well as have the ability to handle a variety of medical conditions as they presented themselves. And while a feline practitioner can be likely to be more current with newer technique and can more easily ab handle cats; this is not always the case.

Years ago I found a flyer in my mailbox advertising a house call and office practice that had recently opened which offered services for both cats and dogs. The house call option was appealing since our cats are not particularly fond of traveling. I made an appointment, and the rest is history. We love Florida Wild Veterinary Hospital.

We are blessed with two wonderfully capable veterinarians who are always willing to go the extra mile to provide our cats with outstanding care. They even take the time to consult with a specialist when necessary. The hospital is a breathtakingly beautiful and immaculately clean facility that offers a separate kitty-only waiting room.

Both the administrative staff and veterinary assistants are helpful and friendly. All the pets and their guardians are handled with such tender loving care; making us feel like we are very special and I have no doubt that Both Dr. Erin Holder and Dr. Lisa Mason are Dr. Hush Puppy’s and Sir Hubble Pinkerton’s “Second –Best” friends. What is even better is that they think so too.

How do you know that your veterinarian is your cat’s “Second- Best” friend? Tell us in a comment.

Jo Singer

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Comments

Is Your Veterinarian your Cat’s Second-best Friend? — 17 Comments

  1. What some excellent cat caretakers might forget is that veterinarians are “generalists”. They treat a wide range of animal species. Nearly all solicitors are specialists in one area of the law. You have to be to be good enough.

    A good cat caretaker who has an above average knowledge of cats will probably find that a vet’s general knowledge of cats (other than medical) is less then theirs.

    You are right when you state a good feline vet should like cats and understand cats. They should have a knowledge of cat behavior. I would expect that vet schools don’t teach them much about that.

    Vets do have a standing in society and pet owners tend to look up to them as wise and knowledgeable. It is not always the case in my experience.

    A good feline vet – a vet who is good with cats but not necessarily a cat specialist – is definitely a cat’s second best friend.

    A cat caretaker needs to have confidence in their vet. It is stressful enough as it is for cat and caretaker when their cat is ill or may be ill. A good vet settles things down and solves problems.

    Also a good vet should prioritize cure not making profit. I feel that some vets lose their way slightly and make judgements that are not wholly in the best interests of their client – the cat.

  2. Since I stopped working for vets and the vets I knew and trusted have retired or died, I’ve felt very differently about having to take our cats to see one.
    We were let down badly by our former practice and thought the same was happening when we moved to another, but thankfully now we have one favourite vet and one second favourite we know we can trust there.
    It’s difficult for me with knowing what goes on behind the scenes and veterinary medicine has moved on so much I don’t know enough now to know if a treatment is right and safe.
    But it’s the same with doctors I suppose, as we get older, they get younger and we have no choice but to trust them until we maybe find out otherwise.

    • I think it pays to shop around if it is possible. You might think you have a good vet until you bump one who is really good. I also believe a vet should have about ten years experience to be genuinely good which means he/she will be in their mid-30s at least.

  3. I have to agree with you about the years of experience- but what is truly awesome is a really smart veterinarian who recently graduated working for or with an experienced practitioner. This way you get the best of both worlds!!

    The newest most up-to date information along with the practical knowledge that the “older” veterinarian has.

  4. We are happy with our vet. She is loving and caring. When we found a cat laying in the road we took him to our vet. I assumed his care and she brought him through is injuries. Since then she has been our regular vet and the cats seem to like her. There have been some tough diagnosis times and some very sad times too. All in all she is our friend and loves our animals. She is a small animal vet but love hoof stock as we do and she also owns some of the most beautiful Morgan horses I think I have even seen. I think it is very important that the animals as well has their companions like the person taking care of their health. Thanks for an interesting article. PS: That is a picture of our “found in road cat” and our ram Alex at the Blessing of the Animals.

  5. Living alone I have 7 cats who are not really socialized at all. There are maybe two that will allow even my daughter pet them. She is the one who brought to us when they were kittens 11 years ago. The rest are rescues also. My current vet is wonderful with all of them when they have to go for check ups and actually have them purring by the time they leave. Can’t find a better vet than them.

  6. Our vet is quite good. She handles the cats (and dogs) gently and talks lovingly to them during the exam. The cats don’t like to travel, but thankfully, the vet is only 1 1/2 miles from home. Once they get there, all but one of them settle down. Tallulah is VERY scared and they usually keep her in the bottom of the carrier. If they don’t, she has been know to climb the walls…..literally!

  7. You are so fortunate to have such a great vet! We had a very good one in the Mojave who had a good heart, a full state-of-the-art hospital with everything on premises, and a great way of working with his patients and their caregivers to try to accomodate both the more and less fortunate financially. His patients seemed to be his first priority. Unfortunately, in this location I have to say that the bottom line is $$$, and that most of the vets seem dog-oriented. None of that is good for us! Our current vet is kind and gentle, but his business is quite small and old, and the waiting room is very cramped; when there are dogs in there, I don’t know about my cats for sure, but I do know I am very uncomfortable and want to leave, because I don’t like being anywhere near dogs.

    • You make an interesting point. We never know or rarely know if a vet likes cats or dogs or keeps cats or dogs. I like it that my vet keeps a cat and likes cats and understands them. It comes across in conversations. The way a vet relates to your cat during consultation is important. Waiting rooms can difficult as even in a carrier a cat can end up being a few feet from a dog and some cats never get to be near dogs usually.

      • I’m actually more wigged-out than they probably are; I have a security door and I keep the main door open in good weather so my indoor-only cats can look out, and they see a LOT of dogs being walked on the block. I have had to care for two dogs, but I do not like them and do not want to be around them. I wish the vet had a larger business, but it is what it is. He’s very good with cats, and good with caregivers.

  8. Other qualities that I find important in a vet are a calm, low-key manner, good judgment, and a straightforward way of explaining diagnostic tests or treatment recommendations. Many fancy and expensive interventions are available these days, but sometimes they may be unnecessary. I like our vet because he really respects our kitty and doesn’t want to disturb her any more than he has to. He talks to her and pets her during the exam, and she seems to trust him. Doesn’t get any better than that, I guess. Thanks for writing a thought-provoking column, Jo.

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