So you're now the proud owner of your very own cat or kitten! You brought them home, they’re everything you’d hoped for and you’re both happily settling in. But have you thought about what would happen if they suddenly become unwell?
When excited by the prospect of your new pet, it's easy to overlook some important tasks, but selecting and registering with a veterinary clinic should be a top priority. With so many practices around, it's a really good idea to find out about your local veterinarians, what services they offer and which one suits you and your cat. It's smart to develop a relationship with a veterinary practice before you need to urgently seek one out.
Finding a veterinarian you trust and can rely on is very important. You need to feel comfortable with them and how they treat you and your cat, as it will be the start of a long-term relationship. Not only will you need to rely on your veterinary practice when your cat is unwell, but it's important to visit annually for vaccination and prophylactic treatments, such as defleaing and deworming.
So what do you need to think about when looking for a veterinarian?
It’s a good idea to do some research before committing to selecting a practice. In the age of Google and online reviews, check if the practice has a website and social media pages. There will likely be a selection of reviews and experiences from current clients of the practice so you can get a feel for whether they meet expectations.
If you have friends and family with pets, ask their opinions. Word of mouth is normally a great way to find a recommendation for a good practice. Once you have narrowed down your choice, give the practice a call to ask them any information you need. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask. Important questions could include:
Make sure you feel they have answered all questions to your satisfaction. If they don’t, try a different practice.
It has long been said that a good veterinarian could diagnose and treat a pet without the aid of machines and with only a simple stethoscope, but in an era of innovation, a clinic with state-of-the-art technology has its advantages.
Some of the most popular veterinary technology you should look out for include endoscopy, in-house laboratory, ultrasound and digital X-rays along with surgical facilities. This may not mean much to you now, but should your cat become ill, the on-hand facilities could mean saving valuable time.
After qualification, there are numerous opportunities for veterinarians to undertake post-graduate training. In small animal practice it is common for veterinarians to focus on a particular interest in one area and develop their skills in that specialty. If you have a cat with a specific condition, such as a joint disorder, it could be worth finding a practice where a vet specializes in orthopedics or focuses purely on feline medicine.
Some clinics now are dedicated only to one species. If your cat is frightened of other animals, it is a great idea to see if there is "cat-only clinic" locally or a practice that offers "cat only" afternoons or something similar.
Communication is a vital part of your relationship with your veterinary clinic. You want to feel assured that the practice understands the needs of you and your cat. When you register, take the opportunity to meet the regular team, ask about the veterinarians, the support staff, their qualifications and their interests to see if you feel comfortable. Remember that when it comes to your cat’s health, no question is too silly and a good veterinary practice will take the time to help and advise you on anything that concerns you. The take-home message here is to do your homework. Take the time to visit practices, ask questions, think about what you and your cat want from a veterinary practice and don't be afraid to keep looking if you aren't happy. Your relationship with your veterinary practice should last for years, and starting out by finding one you are comfortable with will help build strong foundations for the future.
*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club
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