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How To Find A Great Veterinarian For Your Cat

Updated on December 19, 2013

Finding That Perfect Veterinarian For Your Cat Is Not Always Easy, But It Is Possible!

Your cat becomes almost like your baby. He or she is so loved and you know all the nuances that make your cat special. You know if he or she loves to rub your legs for affection when you return home. You know what they want and when, simply by a look they give you or a meow.

In my case, our cat, Dixie, loves to rub my legs in the morning when I first get up. She wants a treat usually, but many times it is simply an act to show affection and to get attention from me. And it works like a charm I might add! She is quite the attention getter when she wants to be! I know what times of the day she wants to eat, when she goes down for each of her naps, even her grooming schedule, since she is very punctual and tends to groom at the same time while sitting in the same place every day!

The trick to finding a great cat veterinarian is to find one who loves cats the way you do, or at least close to it! It pays to look for a vet who is fascinated by these beautiful animals and has a special affinity for them.

Get recommendations from friends, relatives and other cat lovers if you can. Search the Internet for reviews of veterinary clinics and steer clear of those that seem to simply be interested in collecting money from pet owners by moving pets through the clinic in an assembly line fashion.

If you are lucky enough to have a "cat only" veterinary clinic near you, I recommend giving that a try first. Pay a visit to the clinic first and pay attention to some important things. Get a general "feel" for the place. Many times that gut feeling or gut instinct is right.

Our Cats, Dixie and Misty

Dixie waving (at least I always thought she looked like she's waving in this picture!) We've had her since she was just six weeks old.
Dixie waving (at least I always thought she looked like she's waving in this picture!) We've had her since she was just six weeks old. | Source
Our kitty, Misty, always likes laying with paws crossed. I sometimes say she looks like she is praying.
Our kitty, Misty, always likes laying with paws crossed. I sometimes say she looks like she is praying. | Source

Things To Look For When You Visit A Veterinary Clinic

One of the first things to be aware of when you visit a new Veterinary clinic is the smell in the place. If there is an overwhelming smell of cat urine, run. But seriously, look for a general clean smell and no smells that are overpowering. Look for cleanliness in the clinic. If the clinic pays enough attention to keeping the inside of the waiting room and the outside of their facility attractive, they are probably attentive to their animal patients as well. A caring facility with caring staff and veterinarians is what you want to find for your much-loved fur baby.

Pay attention to the feeling you get when you enter the clinic. If the staff is warm, welcoming and seems to be concerned, you might have just found your new clinic for your kitty. You should look for a clinic where you feel as if you are a valuable part of their practice, not just a number. What can make you feel even worse is if you feel like you are just a number, and that your fur kid might be lost in the shuffle of cats coming and going.

A busy practice is fine, as long as they have the clerical and veterinary staff available to spend some one on one time with each patient. It's important that they are not rushed and have time to answer questions. For many people, this is their chance to talk to someone about all the concerns they might have with their beloved pet. They want to feel as if the person listening truly cares.

If you're not able to find a clinic specifically devoted to the care of cats, it pays to find one that has a separate waiting room area that is for cats only. This shows that the clinic is aware that some cats are skittish, especially around dogs and other animals. Cats can have unique anxieties only found in their species and finding a clinic that recognizes and acknowledges this fact is like finding a diamond in a piece of coal.

It is also good when you can find a clinic that has an exam room that is used only for cats. Cats can feel anxious by the presence of dogs, especially large breed dogs. For some cats, just the smell of other animals is enough to induce anxiety. When a clinic has a dedicated exam room for cats, they are showing sensitivity to this fact and an understanding of felines. A good clinic will also have equipment that is cat specific, like smaller scales and instruments tailored for the smaller size of a cat.

Peace and Harmony

Dixie and Misty sharing their favorite window view peacefully
Dixie and Misty sharing their favorite window view peacefully | Source

Would You Seek Out A Cat Only Clinic?

Would You Seek Out a Cat Only Clinic if One is Available In Your Area?

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What To Look For In A Good Veterinarian

It pays to look for a veterinarian who seems to genuinely have an affection for cats and an understanding of them. If the vet walks into the exam room in a gentle manner, using a soft tone of voice that is meant not to be frightening to the cat, you know you have probably found a good one. Find a vet who pays attention to your much loved cat, stroking its fur and speaking in a comforting tone of voice.

If the vet picks the cat up, watch how they hold the cat. It should be more reminiscent of how one would hold a baby than holding an inanimate object. Vets that use "scruffing" (holding the cat by the back of the neck) may not be as gentle as you would like them to be with your pet. It is good if you can find one who will simply put a small towel over the cats head when they're doing something instead of forcefully holding the cat by the scruff of their neck.

It pays to search for a vet who has knowledge of cat specific illnesses and illnesses that are common in certain breeds. You can find this out by asking questions to determine if the vet has knowledge of certain cat breeds. If they have taken the time to learn about different breeds, you can usually feel confident that they will know about illnesses as well. There are things that are centric to certain breeds that make a difference.

For example, British short hair cats often times have type B blood at a higher rate than other breeds. Maine coons have a greater risk for something called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and the Ragdoll breed is also at risk for this condition. Having a vet who is aware of diseases that affect certain breeds at a higher rate is a comfort when it comes time to diagnose a condition. It can give you confidence in their ability to care for your cat.

Look for a veterinarian who seems to be OK with doing a procedure while you are still in the room. This will help your cat to relax and not to feel as stressed if they have their familiar, loved person in the room with them.

It is recommended to ask the vet or the staff, or observe how cats are made more comfortable while they are in the clinic. Some clinics use pheromones that come from electric diffusers that are plugged into walls. This is another way to help cats to be more relaxed and to feel more comfortable during what is normally a scary time for them.

Some veterinarians will allow a cat that is truly frightened to stay in the carrier during the exam. The carrier is simply taken apart and the cat is allowed to stay in the bottom half of it. It will depend on the clinic, but some will do this.

Try to find a veterinarian who communicates well with you. One who takes the time to explain conditions, any medications that are being prescribed and how to administer and monitor those medications is a caring vet that is worth holding on to.

Even if your cat is older and doesn't need regular vaccinations, it is good to find a vet who will do wellness checks on the cat. Things like the cats oral health can be assessed and routine screening urine checks and blood work can be done to find conditions before they become serious or life threatening.

Find a vet who asks behavioral questions to assess changes in a cats behavior. If a cat stops jumping on counters, for example, it might mean they've decided to behave. It can also mean that there is something like arthritis pain that is keeping them from doing things they used to do. Cats are pretty masterful at hiding when they are in any type of pain. If a vet sees your cat routinely, he may become familiar enough with your cat to detect small differences in behavior that can signal underlying problems.

Finding A Great Veterinarian Is Based On Mutual Respect

If Possible, Visit The Clinic And Meet The Vet

The best advice I can share is to try to make a trip to the clinic by yourself first, without your cat. Talk to the receptionists and staff to get a feel for how caring and concerned they are. Watch how they interact with other clients and their cats.

Try to meet with the vet, even if it's only for a couple of minutes, to get a feel for their knowledge and caring and compassion. If they seem to be compassionate and genuinely concerned, you will get a good feeling from them.

If a pre-appointment visit isn't possible, then sit down and think of how the visit went when you brought your cat to the clinic. A lot of times, our first impressions and gut instinct are the best tools we have for deciding if a clinic is the right place for you to take your cat. Your cats current and future health may depend on the choice you make. Try to make the best, most informed decision you can, and you'll most likely have many wonderful, loving years with your beloved cat.


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    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      For you or for your kitty, Sheri? Kidding! I knew what you meant! :) Thanks for your kind words! :)

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Great if only I could find a good dentist!