The Veterinarian’s Client – How Good Are You?

The majority of kitty guardians are very fussy when choosing just the “right” veterinarian. We look for practitioners who are not only experts in their field but are also current about the latest treatment methods, are intelligent, thoughtful, handle our cats with patience and compassion and have an excellent “tableside” manner with clients.

So mull over your inter-personal relationship with your trusted veterinarian for a moment. What kind of client do you imagine that he or she considers you to be? Do you feel you are regarded as an “exceptional” client and not someone who even may be thought of as a “client from hell”?

Vet with her cats

Photo credit: Flickr User Eirik Newth

Since there have been times when I wonder if I am being overly protective of Dr. Hush Puppy and Sir Hubble Pinkerton, our two Oriental senior catizens, and am greatly concerned about their well-being; I worry that on those occasions I think our kitties may be slightly under the weather, that I may be calling my veterinarian too frequently.

In order to put my nagging thoughts to rest, and ease my apprehension, I finally decided to bite the bullet and ask my veterinarian to describe what she considered an “excellent” client to be, and what type of person with whom she would not enjoy having in her practice. This is what I learned.

My veterinarian truly appreciates clients who take excellent care of their kitties, arrive on time for appointments with their cats in carriers, don’t grumble about having to wait if they are late, don’t present unpleasant financial surprises and who discuss payment options in advance if needed.

She favors observant clients who make an appointment when they recognize that their cat is not acting normally. After all, being able to nip something in the bud is far more proactive and helpful to the kitty than the clients who always take a “wait and see” approach, just to save the cost of an office visit. She feels that “trust” goes both ways. Knowing that the client trusts her, and being able to trust her client’s judgment is something that is extremely important to her. It was then that my insecurity and nagging worries faded away.

My veterinarian greatly appreciates the clients who follow her instructions. She respects those who ask questions for clarification. She fully expects that any medications she prescribes will be administered responsibly, and if problems arise they will notify her immediately. After all, it doesn?t take a rocket-scientist to realize that if her client isn’t willing to help their pet, how can she do her part?

However just to be on the safe side, I asked her to tell me about some of her pet peeves concerning her relationship with clients. She said that while asking questions about what her suggested treatment is totally acceptable, what she finds distasteful are clients who act as if they are “know-it alls”; challenging every suggestion she makes. Her goal is entering into a dialogue with clients, so a discussion about her diagnosis and any available treatment options can be openly explored. Clients who may want a “second opinion” are free to do so; this request is not at all intimidating.

She doesn’t enjoy clients who repeatedly ask her to make a diagnosis over the phone. While she may be able to offer some general guidance, there are conditions that can only be diagnosed accurately in person.

By the end of our discussion I now consider that I am an “excellent” client; trusting my veterinarian that if she feels I am being overly anxious about the kitties she will let me know. Being excellent also works both ways. Both our cats and I am truly blessed to have an exceptional veterinarian.

Leave a comment and tell us about your relationship with your veterinarian.


Facebook Comments


The Veterinarian’s Client – How Good Are You? — 14 Comments

  1. I agree that a good client is somebody who provides good information to the veterinarian so that he can make a proper diagnosis. The client should then accept the diagnosis.

    There is no doubt that cat owners should take their ill cat to the vet as soon as possible but in my opinion there are times when it is advisable to watch and wait if the illness is extremely mild or if the cat has been to the vet before and it is a case of watching and waiting to see whether the treatment is taking effect or whether there has been a relapse.

    What I’m saying is I believe that there are times when it is useful to watch and wait as long as it is not for too long.

    Nice article, I enjoyed it. I think I’m a good client. if I have a failing it is erring towards being too opinionated but I always check myself, stop and always respect the veterinarian’s diagnosis and treatment. After all we are there for their advice and help. We should listen, accept and help them.

  2. I have a great relationship with my veterinarian and his staff. If something comes up — as in an emergency — he is only a phone call away. My “kids” go for check-ups yearly. I am on time and do follow his instructions — if any of them need something special.If I just have a question when something comes up, I can also text him, and he will respond. I feel very fortunate to have a great and understanding vet.

  3. I never feel very happy about accepting any vets diagnosis now without questioning it because we have lost two cats in the past through misdiagnosis by vets.
    Our practice has 9 vets now and we feel able to trust 2 of them, the others we don’t really know, but a relative having worked there as a receptionist tipped us off as to the ones who think it’s important to reach the money making targets set by the boss. So are the tests really necessary? I like a vet who talks to the patient, strokes him and reassures him, while listening to the client.
    I suppose with working for vets for many years I know too much of what goes on in the background.
    I agree with Michael, if it’s nothing too worrying, watch and wait a while, rather than put the cat through the trauma of a trip to the vets.
    Our boyz are very healthy almost 13 years old but I dread vets trips, I don’t know if they think we are good clients or not, it’s a necessary evil to me going there now.

    • Watching and waiting is a good policy provided the cat caretaker is in tune with her cat and sensible. Then the cat caretaker can make good decisions and under the circumstances watching and waiting can be beneficial to a cat because going to vet is nearly always traumatic to a certain extent. I suppose it is about balancing the competing forces. On the one side is the trauma of going to the vet and on the other side is the fact that delay can exacerbate the problem.

  4. Well, got a Wonderful Group of Vets here in Oamaru, I guess its like a medical Centre. They do a wonderful job. There’s even ones from UK & Ireland. We have no problems. They explain things so well. I remember when Cassy was getting ill. The vet explained everything wonderfully, They made the whole process so much easier. I do trust what they do & say. They are approachable, and if we had any questions they are open to whatever. Thankfully, our Vet is just down the road so not far to go.

  5. I consider myself an “excellent” client. I am quite “in tune” with my pets, both canine and feline. If something is “a bit off”, I wait and watch for a day or two. If it goes away, no big deal. If not, time to call for an appt. Unless, of course, it is my Collie with the liver ailments or my FIV kitty. Those go immediately if they are “a bit off”. I also do all recommended testing such as xrays, blood work, etc. I also make sure that I give medications/supplements per the veterinarian’s or the label directions. And many of my furkids are on veterinarian recommended diets. In the cases of chronic issues, I make sure that I have the lab tests every 3 to 6 months as recommended by the vet. It gets expensive, and sometimes I get the feeling that I am considered a “nudge” by the vet; but the bottom line in the best possible care for my furkids.

  6. Reno,

    It’s that “nudge” feeling that I often worry about… but my vet knows that when I call it IS important- I guess that’s just my insecurity!

  7. “…My veterinarian truly appreciates clients who take excellent care of their kitties, arrive on time for appointments with their cats in carriers, don’t grumble about having to wait if they are late, don’t present unpleasant financial surprises and who discuss payment options in advance if needed.”

    Another insightful and informative article, Jo — thank you for this! Of course, everyone appreciates cooperation, willingness and patience, and ability to follow through; but in the real world, many of us are not made of money, and the above-referenced quote does not exactly apply. It would be wonderful if everyone had plenty, but in this society, the reality is that a growing number of people do not. That doesn’t mean they don’t love and want to give the best care possible to all of their beloved family members! One thing I hear from many of my friends is that many vets and veterinary practices are all about the bottom line and that they seemingly do not care about their patients unless and until the caregivers pay the bill. This applies to human “health care” as well. The system needs to change from the ground up, and the priority needs to be caring for and about living beings, not amassing wealth.

  8. Thanks jmuhj!

    I truly think that trust must work both ways. If folks feel that their vets are “padding” the bill with unnecessary procedures, then it seems to me that the client is not trusting the vet.

    Clients also need to be more proactive – by asking questions about suggested procedures and exactly WHY the vet is recommending them.

    I recently had Dr. Hush Puppy evaluated by a feline only practitioner and I just had that “nagging” feeling that she was primarily interested in the “money” … I just didn’t trust what she was suggesting- it was too risky as far as I was concerned, and I already knew about alternative methods to handle the problem.

    She must have entered me into the “bad” client category because I didn’t accept her “diagnosis” without questioning it- (I was very polite and totally non-confrontive)- so if she wasn’t willing to enter into a dialog, I wasn’t interested in pursuing the relatioship either.

  9. Since vet bill looks like the gross national debt, I am a great testament to being a good client to my vet. I always tell them what symptoms my pet is having and then follow up with any tests they may want to do for them after they have made a diagnosis. Whenever meds are prescribed, I make sure they get them at the right time, and the exact dose the directions specify. So, I think I am just about the most perfect client a vet could want. At least as far as trusting them with the health of my animals.

  10. Everyone knows that my darling vet of over 20 years retired, leaving me to find another.

    I chose one of the 5 clinics he recommended (5 out of the 60 or more nearly in my back yard). There are 4 vets there and, so far, it’s been O.K. But, I haven’t had any major problems to bring to them.

    I, honestly, don’t care what their opinion of me may be.
    I’m not their client. I am the spokesperson and payor for their client.

    I expect honesty. I don’t ever want to hear, “I’ll take her back and do some bloodwork”. Those are two negatives. First, my cat(s) never leaves my sight; and, secondly, bloodwork for what and why?

    I don’t accept vague or unsubstantiated diagnoses or treatments.

  11. My vets are wonderful and caring I find the men a bit more aloof than the women though. I think I would be classed as an excellent client because I am on their pet health scheme for all 3 cats, listen to what they have to say, I never complain about waiting times and I am usually pretty much on time 🙂

    • Yea, sound like it is for us. I have never had a bad situation. Our vet is both rural/town Vet as its mostly rural town.

  12. Thanks for the guidelines. LOL I guess I am one of the clients that makes the appointment at first sign of problems. There have been times when the vet looks at me like I am cracked in the head. She doesn’t find anything obvious. Then we discuss why I am taking up her time. Usually we can then find the problem. I have seen the other kinds of clients. Scary. Thanks for the information. It never hurts to know the vet’s side. That is for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.