At some point you’re probably going to end up changing veterinarians, whether it’s because you’re moving, your current vet is retiring, or something happened that makes you feel you need to select a different vet. You know your new vet should be competent and licensed, but here are six other less obvious but equally important characteristics you should look for when choosing a veterinarian.
1. Does the vet really like cats?
Any general practice vet knows how to examine and treat cats, but some vets, like some laypeople, have a preference for dealing with cats. When you make an appointment for your cat at a new clinic, ask the receptionist if there are any vets who seem to have a preference for working with cats.
2. How does the vet handle your cat?
Watching the vet do your cat’s physical exam can tell you a lot. How does she talk to your cat? How does she hold your cat when completing the various procedures associated with the exam? Does she look comfortable or does she seem to handle your cat like he’s an unexploded bomb, for example?
3. How does your cat handle the vet?
Most cats don’t care for vet visits, but if you know the way your cat usually reacts, you’ll be able to tell how he’s feeling about the new vet’s touch and handling.
4. How’s the vet’s "tableside” manner?
Your vet’s ability to communicate with you is as important as her ability to do a good exam on your cat. The fact is, some vets just have better people skills than others. If you’re not comfortable with the vet, you may need to choose another doctor at the practice or go somewhere else.
5. How are the vet’s listening skills?
The vet will ask you about issues like your cat’s nutrition, age, vaccination history, and any potential health concerns. A good vet will engage you in conversation. She may express concerns and make recommendations for changes, but she won’t preach: She’ll meet you where you are and be your partner in keeping your cat healthy.
6. What does your gut say?
If your vet seems to be doing well with all these things, but you still feel like something’s not quite right, don’t ignore that. Cat caretakers are usually a pretty intuitive crowd: We have to be, in order to really understand our feline companions. If your antenna goes up, there’s a reason, so heed your gut feeling and act on it.