A Good Relationship with Your Veterinarian
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