How to Avoid a “Bad Veterinarian”: Listen to your Inner Voice

Those of us whose cats are under the care of top notch veterinary practitioners are indeed extremely fortunate. It can be very difficult to find a veterinary practice that is both feline savvy and which employs staff who know how to relate to and to appropriately handle kitties. In fact, following our move from New York to Florida it took me ages to find a practice where cats basically were not treated like “little dogs”.

Bad veterinarian?
Photo Credit: Flickr User: lobstar28
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Today, throughout most urban environments, there is an abundance of small animal veterinary hospitals from which to choose. However this may give kitty guardians a false sense of security, since there are few veterinary practices that are truly feline-friendly, sufficiently knowledgeable about kitties, or which have the experience to truly provide the special services required by the feline species.

Then there are those “know-it-all” practitioners who don’t take the time to fully listen to a guardian, and who even resent the suggestions a guardian may offer. After all aren’t we the ones who absolutely know our cats better and who can quickly recognize when something is amiss? Isn’t the information we give the veterinarian; the one who is examining our beloved cat extremely important? Sometimes vets take umbrage at clients who are knowledgeable. This may affect the quality of their service.

I don’t know how you would react but when I am relating information to a veterinarian who is “pooh-poohing” what I am giving him/her and who is basically accusing me as a “hypochondriac-by proxy”, I want to scream! Who needs an arrogant, self-proclaimed “know-it-all” practitioner? There is no room for trust-building or mutual respect in a one-sided relationship. Instead, shouldn’t we be seeking the care of a compassionate veterinarian who takes our concerns seriously and trusts us enough that when we contact them that something really is “off” with our kitty?

While some folks may think that arrogance may portend expertise, as far as I am concerned it is quite the opposite. To me, arrogance probably is due to the practitioner compensating for their conscious or unconscious insecurity.

In my opinion veterinarians who are open to suggestions and don’t take personally our questioning them about diagnostic or treatment issues are secure practitioners. It has always been my experience that the veterinarians who remain open to learning from their clients and who welcome new information are more than competent and genuinely confident about their skills.

Years ago, I almost lost Yo-Yo, an amazing Siamese kitty to Vaccine Associated Sarcoma. I was stroking her and felt little tiny bumps on her side that felt like little pieces of sand under her skin. My regular veterinarian, Dr. Martin Goldstein was out of town for a few days. I took her to a neighborhood veterinarian right away since I was concerned.

He examined the bumps and told me it was “nothing to be concerned about.” I snapped back, “After you biopsy them and it is nothing, then you can tell me not to be worried.” He begrudgingly agreed to perform the surgery and I picked her up later that day. Two days later he called and said, “Your cat has Fibrosarcoma. We can do surgery and chemotherapy, but the prognosis for a cure is slim-to-none.”

I contacted Dr. Goldstein and made an appointment for the next day. He was and continues to be a highly respective integrative practitioner. He started Yo-Yo on Immuno-Augmentive Therapy (IAT), a program which unfortunately is not presently available. With our teamwork and the highly competent, compassionate care Yo-Yo received, we gave her a high quality of life for almost 18 months – without chemo – only a daily series of tiny injections of specially designed blood products without side effects, and surgery when necessary to excise her rapidly growing tumors when they interfered with her range of motion.

My suggestion to avoid a “bad” veterinarian is always listening to your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with a practitioner, you know your kitty will too. If you have nagging doubts about any proposed care; so will your kitty.

In the same way that we are tuned in to our cats; for a positive outcome we must also be ‘tuned in” with our veterinarian. What is your opinion? Tell us in a comment.

9 thoughts on “How to Avoid a “Bad Veterinarian”: Listen to your Inner Voice”

  1. Absolutely agree with you 100% on not patronizing any vet/clinic that does declawing, Jo, if at all possible! Unfortunately, where I live, in a wealthy city, most of the vets I’ve encountered are indeed “all about the money” and very short on bedside manner. We are fortunate to live between two cities which have feline-only practices: Whiskers To Tail Cat Hospital in Pasadena and Bastet Cat Hospital in Burbank. We had an excellent vet who had a full-service practice out in Hesperia, Dr. Ahmed. He not only had everything right there for patients’ needs, he worked with those who were less financially fortunate, trying his very best to accomodate them.

  2. Speaking of “ignorant” veterinarians- As most of you know we recently adopted a 5 month old black domestic shorthair kitten.

    The shelter folks were wonderful and gave us all of his medical records at the time we adopted him- shot records- etc. I was absolutely outraged when I noticed that this baby kit was given a Rabies kitten shot- a THREE YEAR adjuvanted vaccine of all things.

    He absolutely should have received a one-year Purevax vaccine which is not adjuvanted. Now I have to be very diligent and watch for any lump- I do NOT want to have to go through another case of vaccine associated sarcoma again. That is a total heart breaker.

    While some say that the risk is 1-10,000 it is probably more like 1-5,000.. but when our cats develop it due to the wrong vaccine- then it is 100% as far as I am concerned.. SIGH


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