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
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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.


14 thoughts on “The Veterinarian’s Client – How Good Are You?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. “…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.


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