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Does Your Vet Make House Calls?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I made an appointment for a veterinarian to visit my cats at my home -- but now I'm sold.

 |  May 16th 2012  |   24 Contributions


My best friend, Adrianna (whose cat, Abby, was the feature of a previous Let's Talk column on the merits of shaving your kitty), has been singing the praises of a mobile vet who visits her two cats at her Seattle apartment. I've always been curious about house-call vets, but I never had the chance to use one until I moved to Maine's largest city.

Since I was in the market for a new vet, I started with recommendations from my colleagues, and supplemented that information with a Google search of Portland-based animal hospitals. I nearly jumped out of my chair when I discovered Dr. Kate, a vet who makes house calls.

Not only does Dr. Kate make house calls and not only is she a fully accredited veterinarian, she also happens to be a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and dietary therapy. Now I was really excited: I like to use integrative medicine for myself and for my cats, both to prevent and treat illness.

This is not Dr. Kate. I thought it would be tacky to do a photo shoot at our first appointment. Veterinarian holds a cat during an examination by Shutterstock

A brief e-mail exchange later, I set up an appointment. This morning Dr. Kate was sitting in my living room getting to know Siouxsie and Thomas.

You might think that a house call vet wouldn't give the same depth of exam as a standard vet, but I have to tell you, Siouxsie and Thomas got a more thorough checkup from a vet sitting on my couch than they've had in years in a traditional clinic setting. I have to say here that I'm a little disappointed in how that reflects on my former veterinarian.

When you can bring a vet to your house and avoid stressing your cats with a visit to the clinic, and get care that's just as good as -- if not better than -- the care you'd get at the clinic, the house call vet choice is a no-brainer. I'm sold!

After taking my cats' health history and looking at their vet records, we discussed what I'm feeding them (I even showed her the food so she could check out the ingredients), their behavior, their likes and dislikes, and lots of other questions about their daily habits that helped Dr. Kate understand my cats from a Chinese medicine perspective, too.

We discussed health concerns. For example, my 16-year-old cat, Siouxsie, has a lot of tartar buildup that my previous vet didn't think was an issue. (Again, I'm sorry to say that although my previous vet was a great guy, I'm kind of bummed out about his attitude toward Siouxsie's dental health.) I, however, was still concerned, and so was Dr. Kate when she saw poor Siouxsie's molars. We worked out a treatment plan beginning with the least invasive method of tartar control and moving on from there if necessary.

I'm pretty new to Portland, and when I explained to Dr. Kate that I'm in the process of transitioning my cats to a species-appropriate diet, she provided me with tons of information about places to get commercial foods and even raw foods if I'm interested in doing that. She even told me that there are groups of people who share knowledge about species-appropriate feeding and sometimes even do group buys of prepared raw foods to save on overall cost.

I didn't know my Thomas-cat had a secret career as a stock photo model. I wish I knew where he was hiding the royalty checks. Striped cat sleeps on a sofa by Shutterstock

Our appointment lasted an hour. The whole time, Dr. Kate listened attentively to my questions, gave me answers in a way that proved she respects me as a knowledgeable and caring cat caretaker, and proved that she's got major "cat mojo," as celebrity cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy calls it, by causing my Thomas to actually enjoy a vet checkup for the first time in his life.

I'm not gonna lie: You might be a little surprised when you get your bill. But then again, maybe not. The cost for today's visit was $145, which amounts to just over $70 per cat for a complete exam and detailed discussion about preventative care and ways to treat the issues they do have. I don't know how that compares to the standard rate for a vet checkup here in Portland (I paid about $45 for a checkup in the small city where I lived before), but even if it is significantly higher, it's worth it to me.

When you can bring a vet to your house and avoid stressing your cats with a visit to the clinic, and get care that's just as good as -- if not better than -- the care you'd get at the clinic, the house call vet choice is a no-brainer. I'm sold!

What do you think? Have you used a house-call vet? Did you have a good experience? Would you use a house-call vet if one was available in your area? Let's talk.

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