It's not just for shots; you'll need a cat veterinarian for a number of reasons. Maybe you're a new cat parent, your family just moved, or your cat is in need of medical care. Whatever the reason, it's important to find a cat vet with whom you—and your feline friend—are comfortable seeing on a regular basis.
What's the best way to go about finding a vet that's right for you and your cat? Here are your options.
Friends and Reviews
Consider asking close friends who have cats about their choice. Another good way to find a vet, of course, is to explore reviews of local facilities online. But take reviews of a cat hospital with a grain of salt, according to Dr. Patty Khuly, as they often reflect subjective cases of financial coverage, rather than the care they provide.
What's Important toYou
Once you have a list of potential vets to choose from, there are several factors to consider that can help you whittle it down. What's most relevant to you? Price, location, hours, wait times, and bedside manner should all come to mind. Does the vet offer grooming and boarding? If your cat suffers from a disease or recurrent health problem, a vet that specializes in this issue might be the best route. Ultimately, consider the factors that are important to you specifically before deciding to meet with a certain practice.
While everyone has a different opinion on what is most important here are some common questions to ask yourself when researching a veterinarian for your cat:
- Does the place have a good reputation? How long have they been in practice?
- Are the facilities clean and updated?
- Are their other patients in the office? This can be a good indicator that other cat owners trust this particular veterinarian.
- Are they timely at responding to questions or at seeing your cat at your scheduled appointment time?
- Is the staff friendly?
Follow Your Instincts
Look to a vet's website to find answers to the issues most important to you. If you can't find answers online, don't hesitate to call the office and ask these questions before making an appointment. You can even ask to come in and meet the vet without your cat. Once you do, ask him or her questions and follow your instincts. Is this someone you feel like you can trust with your cat even if you're not in the room?
Finding a Vet That Offers Unique Services
Cat care has come a long way. Many vets now offer holistic and alternative forms of treatment such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. If you are searching for alternative care for your pet, start with the database of vets who are members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), and all of whom specialize in small-animal care.
What should you do if it's the middle of the night and you're in sudden need of a vet's attention? When your cat is suddenly in distress and your regular vet isn't available, it's important to be prepared. Learn about the recommended 24-hour emergency services in your area, and keep this contact information handy in case of an emergency. Or, search online using terms like "emergency vet" to find an off-hours treatment center near you. Just like a human ER, keep in mind you'll likely pay much more for emergency services at a cat hospital than you would at a regular veterinarian office.
Doing your research when finding the right cat veterinarian is worth the work. After all, this is the person who, next to yourself, matters most to the health of your family.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer who lives in Erie, Pennsylviania with her cat Olive.