Never Settle: My 6-Step Plan for Getting the Best Vet for Your Cat
You want to take the best care of your cat. We all do. But you'll be depending on your veterinarian to help you here. The veterinarian works with you as well as your cat -- a challenging job, to say the least. I have the greatest admiration for the veterinary profession.
I might go overboard when it comes to my cats' care, but there have been times when I used three or four veterinarians at once in a given situation. Why? Because the sum was greater than the parts, and because I felt my cat could get the best care in these cases. But it's work, if you're up to it.
Here are some things to consider, whether you're looking for one vet, or several.
1. Ask a lot of questions
Hone in on your veterinarian's philosophy. Does he encourage declawing or does he have a policy of not doing it? Is she traditional, holistic, or both? What is his approach to caring for cats? What is her understanding of the bond we have with our cats? Find this out -- you won't be comfortable with a vet whose philosophy is 180 degrees from yours.
2. Talk to your cat-loving or pet-loving friends
Who do your trusted friends recommend for a veterinarian? If you and your friends share similar values, chances are that you might make similar choices in veterinary medicine. I consult with a cat-specific holistic veterinarian to this day. I never would have known about her, had I not had a conversation once with a cat-loving friend who recommended this vet.
3. Study how the vet treats you and your cat
Use your intuition here, and your observation skills. Do you like the vet? How does the vet interact with you? How does the vet treat your cat? You're all part of the equation. Ultimately, it's your cat's care you're concerned about. But it's important that you have good rapport and understanding with the vet, as well.
4. Be open to different viewpoints
Just like different yoga teachers can have different approaches to teaching yoga (if you don't believe me, just go to a few classes and see how differently yoga might be taught), veterinarians may have differing approaches to the same health problem. Vets are human, and very busy. They deal with various anatomical systems, beyond that of a cat. They may not have come across a particular situation in their practice. That's when it may pay to:
5. Do your own research and consult with your veterinarian
Of course, many of us are not veterinarians. We can't hope to step into our animal doctor's shoes (and personally, I don't think I would want to). But with some research, you may run across something (a solution, an approach?) that your vet hasn't mentioned. See if your vet is willing to try it. Sure, there's a lot of anecdotal information out there, but there's substantiated data out there, too, and you might find a gem that could really make the difference for your cat.
If the vet is supportive of your efforts to add to the discussion of your cat's care, that's a good thing -- even if the solution doesn't end up working. At the very least, it gives you insight into why you like your vet, and why you want to stick with her or him. The piece of information you dug up might help your cat -- or other cats down the road.
6. Keep collaborating vets informed
If you're using more than one veterinarian in a particular situation, it's best to keep each vet informed of all actions you're taking, and all discoveries made. Share veterinary records for your cat, if possible. Keep each veterinarian up to date. Be tactful and let all your vets know that you value each and every one of their opinions and efforts. You don't want your veterinarians to think you're dissing their years of experience and their approach, even unintentionally.
Ultimately, you're the consumer, and you're acting on behalf of your cat. So shop around. Vets are human, and they're going to differ in their bedside manner and their philosophies. Carefully select your veterinarian so that you can work well together on the common goal -- the best care for your cat.
How do you and your cat choose your veterinarians? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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