To keep your feline pal healthy, it’s essential to take your cat to the doctor regularly. Sadly, more than half of the 86 million domesticated cats in the U.S. don’t make their yearly wellness appointment according to a survey from BayerDVM and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. One of the most common reasons for skipping regular health appointments is that cat parents want to spare their pets the anxiety that comes with a typical visit to the vet, where doctors and staff don’t seem to be able to manage or relate to cats. That being said, going to the vet doesn’t have to be stressful, you just need to find the right cat doctor.
Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a vet for your cat:
1. Who is recommending them?
Before you choose any professional (groomer, roofer, gardener, etc.) you probably talk to other people and do some research. The same goes with searching for a vet. Start by talking to other cat owners about what they like or don’t like about their vet.
Next, do some research. You can search the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ database of doctors to find practices in your area that have earned the organization’s distinction of being a “cat friendly practice” – they can earn either Gold or Silver status.
You can also search for practices that have been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, which evaluates the quality of care, facilities, and staff.
2. Is the practice cat friendly?
Once you have a list of potential vets for your cat, the next step is to do a quick telephone screening of each one. Ask basic questions about how well they accommodate cats. For instance:
- Do you offer separate waiting areas and exam rooms for cats?
- What is your policy on cats that come into the building (do they need to be in a carrier or are they allowed to roam)?
- Does the vet own a cat?
- How do you handle a cat who panics during a visit?
Answers to just three or four questions like these can give you a good indication about whether the vet and staff are truly “cat people.”
3. What is the vet’s stand on hot-button issues?
Whether or not to pursue expensive care for a terminal illness, for example, is a personal decision for each pet owner. If your vet has a strong opinion that opposes your own choice, you may find that you have standing issues with your cat’s doctor. It might be best, then, to find a practice more in line with your views.
4. What are the hours and staff support?
Whether you own cats, dogs, rabbits, or any other type of pet, you need to be sure that you can reach help when you need it. The larger the practice, the more likely you’ll have access to a cat doctor on weekends or late in the day. However, some people prefer the intimacy of the single vet clinic with a cat doctor that knows and loves your finicky feline. That’s fine, but you should also have on hand the number of a backup vet with extended hours, in the event of an emergency.
5. What other services does the office offer?
It can make your life much easier if your veterinarian’s office – where your kitty already feels happy and safe – also offers cat care such as grooming services, nail clipping, dental cleaning, and boarding. Or you may find those options to be more like extra frosting on a really tasty cake. The most important thing is to find a cat doctor that you can build a personal connection with, so that you can keep your cat happy and healthy.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.