Following my post on Tuesday about what to look for when choosing a veterinarian, I’d like to focus on the other side of the vet-client relationship: You. Here are six things you can do that will help you not only be a better partner in your cat’s health care but make your vet happy when she hears you’re bringing your cat in for a checkup.
Adult cats should have a "well pet" exam once a year. Many vets recommend that senior cats come in for a checkup twice a year, or possibly more often if the cat has a chronic illness. Cats age much faster than humans, and the more frequent visits will help your vet detect age-related diseases before they reach a crisis point.
You don’t have to spend all your free time reading veterinary journals, but do try to keep up with developments in vaccination protocol, nutrition, parasite control, and other general feline health issues. On the other hand, be aware that sources vary in their accuracy level, so don’t assume something is true just because you read it on a blog somewhere.
If you don’t understand something your vet has told you, don’t be afraid to ask. Your vet would much rather take the time to be sure you have a good grasp on her recommendations or explanations about your cat’s health than have you leave the office confused or overwhelmed.
A few vet clinics might have staff willing to handle emergencies after business hours for existing clients, but the vast majority of them don’t. Be sure you know the phone number and address of the closest emergency vet hospital. If you need it, you’ll be glad to have it.
Most vets are willing to refer you to another veterinarian if you ask. In fact, sometimes they’ll even appreciate it. General practitioner vets know a lot about animals, but if your cat needs a specialized surgery or is dealing with cancer or another chronic illness, they know as well as you do that there’s probably another vet who knows a lot more about it. Your vet should also be able to help you find a behaviorist if your cat is engaging in upsetting behaviors.
It’s fine to disagree with your veterinarian about her recommendations for your cat’s care and discuss your disagreements like grown-ups, but it’s not fine to argue if your vet tells you something you don’t want to hear, or flat-out refuse to do what she recommends because you don’t think you should. It’s fine to discuss your financial concerns about your cat’s treatment before the treatment starts or ask the clinic to call you if the cost of your cat’s care looks like it’s going to be higher than the estimate they provided, but it’s not okay to nickel-and-dime every line item on your bill once the treatment is done. If you don’t trust your vet enough to discuss your concerns with her, and if you don’t trust your clinic not to overcharge you, why are you even going there?
Do you have any strategies for being a good vet client? Let us know in the comments!