Vet Files: Make Sure Your Cat Is Being Treated By Professionals

By William Long

Tabby cat at vet clinic by angela n. via Flickr

There are more than 84,000 veterinary technicians in the U.S., reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they estimate this field to grow by 30 percent through 2022. With so many people entering into this field, how do you know if the people taking care of your cat are qualified? The following questions can be asked of any veterinary staff to determine their skill and ability to take care of your beloved pet. Don’t leave your pet with someone you don’t fully trust.

Staff in a Veterinary Clinic

Your vet’s office can have a number of people working there under different titles, and they all may perform overlapping roles. The primary roles you could see include:

  • Veterinarian: This is the head of the clinic and is essentially the doctor in charge of all of the animal patients that come in.
  • Veterinarian Technician: Also called a vet tech, this role works like a nurse in the clinic assisting the vet, but is also able to perform certain procedures independently.
  • Veterinarian Assistant: This role functions like a nurses aid, supporting both the technician and veterinarian.

Educational Background

Ask about the program the person attended and what the curriculum covered. According to Inner Body, you should expect to get a list of skills including:

  • Delivering first aid and emergency care
  • Assisting the vet during procedures
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Administering vaccinations
  • Performing procedures such as dental cleanings
  • Providing post-operative care such as dressing changes and suture removal

All professionals working with your cat in the clinic should have an education from an accredited school. You can get familiar with the types schooling a vet tech or assistant should have completed by reviewing programs such as the ones at Penn Foster. You’ll get a sense of the academic background of those roles and be better prepared to ask educated questions regarding your pet.

Personal Motivation

The Global Post notes that the requirements to get into these programs is minimal. Ask the person what motivated them to go through a program and become a vet tech or assistant. They may have a lifelong passion to work with animals or they may have seen this as an easy route to a career. Either person could still be an excellent animal care giver, but you’ll know more about your own comfort level from where their motivation comes.

Experience and Focus

People in these programs get exposure to taking care of companion, zoo, farm and laboratory animals. Ask the person what their focus was in school and what the majority of their experience has been since graduating. A person who has the goal of becoming a zoo veterinarian could be using this role as a stepping stone. Someone who grew up with and loves cats may be doing exactly what they want to be doing in their current role.

Ability to Relate to People

You control your cat’s care, so how the staff relates to you is important, too. Communication is a big trait for a successful vet tech or assistant, says Vet Tech Guide. You’ll get a sense of this by the responses you get from your questions.

Ask the person about the most difficult situation they’ve encountered. The most satisfying. The situation that most challenged their skills. Have a casual conversation with the person about what they like and don’t like about their role. You’ll discover how well the person communicates by getting them to open up a bit. Just don’t interrogate them. No one feels comfortable when they feel they’re being attacked.

[William Long is a Blogger, life coach, cat rescue volunteer]

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Vet Files: Make Sure Your Cat Is Being Treated By Professionals — 14 Comments

    • Yes, and sadly that means I could not trust 99.9% of the American vets. Note: I realise that many American vets are first rate in terms of skill and knowledge but for me they ruin their reputation by declawing cats. I realise I am only one person but I am entitled to my opinion.

      • I agree with you Michael and we know that we are right so if anyone doesn’t like what we say, it’s their problem not ours!

        • Say it, Sister!

          Some day, we should create soap boxes for us all to stand on with our names and causes on them.

          We would look like we were playing the game “Twister” with one foot on my kill shelters box, one foot on your declaw box, one hand on Elisa’s PETA box, one hand on Michael’s government and corporations box…When we run out of limbs, we can just hiss and growl at the other box causes.

  1. Oh oh! That will be “Babz to Planet Ruth are you receiving me over……. no reply” for the foreseeable future then 😉

  2. Lols i just dont understand in places like usa and others why Vets have the right to declaw a cat. Im always mindful at my vet, and they always explain what they are doing. Even in the case of cassy. Even had to sign that it was ok to do that. which i think is a double Precaution to save them. its just soo hard to understand why people would declaw their precious cat.

  3. Another way to determine whether the veterinary assistant caring for your pet is a professional or not is asking for his or her certification. Does he or she hold her veterinary assistant certification from a NAVTA-approved program, such as Animal Behavior College? Has he or she had formal hands-on training prior to working at the hospital?

  4. Make sure they have a state license. If the one in my cats case did I could have included her in my complaint to the SVB.

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