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Thinking of changing vets...

2251 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Straysmommy
I'm not dissatisfied with our current vet, per se, but I'm thinking of switching vets. There's a vet that has opened an office that's much closer to us than our current vet, which is a big plus because of our four cats, Momo is the only one who doesn't freak out in the car. Midnight, Star, and Lucky sound as if they're being horribly tortured, so a vet that is closer would be better for them and for our ears. Before I switch, I'd like to make an appointment with this new vet and get a feel for him and his office. Is there anything I should look for and/or ask about? Feel free to post your suggestions/recommendations. Thanks!
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I recently went through a vet change for my cats. Our prior vet decided to retire and sold her practice, unfortunately without giving us any notice. We thought highly of her, and she really helped to put us on the right track when it came to educating ourselves about the special needs of cats.

A young doctor bought her practice, and he is a nice guy. He was gentle with the cats, and is great with Kaya, our dog. He made me a bit uneasy with some of his answers to our questions concerning feline diets though. He also didn't seem very concerned about feline health in general other than when it was time to vaccinate (which is another thing we give special consideration too). He was the type of vet that treated cats like small dogs, IMO, and it made me uncomfortable.

About six weeks ago Truman developed conjunctivitis in both eyes and I panicked. I do that when I have an ailing cat. I panic. It's a me thing. The new vet guy couldn't get Truman in fast enough for me (the next day) so we called another vet in town and they got us in.

The following morning I took Truman into the place I've never been to before. The receptionist wasn't very polite, at all, and they had a horrible loud squawking giant parrot (McCaw? I don't do birds...) that scared the buhjeezus out of my poor cat. It just kept squawking. I was finally let into the exam room after waiting 30 minutes, the vet came in and diagnosed him, gave me some eye medicine, and we were on our way. The vet was nice enough, praised his looks and all that, but just didn't give the panicking guy with the wallet in his back pocket enough reassurance that his pride and joy was going to be ok. I know that sounds picky, but I feel like I need to be helped as much as the cat. LOL.

Later that afternoon I researched "cat only" vets and found one 40 minutes from me. It's a terrible drive, but I wanted to try them out. We called and they set up an appointment for Truman the very next day. Yes.... I wanted a second opinion. I wanted someone to let me know everything was going to be alright. As I've said prior... I panic.

This place was amazing. It was homey, quiet, impeccably clean, and comfortable for Truman. We went into the examining room (it wasn't a cold smelly white doctors room, but rather had a cozy little "front porch" feel to it) where they invited Truman out to explore his surroundings before the doctor arrived. When the doctor did arrive, she asked us to call her by her first name, and spoke with us for better than 40 minutes about all of our cats, our approach to feeding and caring for them, answered any and all general questions we had, and then gave Truman a thorough inspection. His heart rate was at 160 bpm, when she was done he fell asleep on the exam table while we talked more.

When it was all over she confirmed what the other vet had diagnosed, and gave me an education on what to expect, how it can be caused, etc. I left incredibly satisfied.

Two weeks later I took Oscar in and had the same experience. It may seem uppity and maybe even ridiculous to seek out a cat only doctor, but it's the best thing I've done for my cats in a long time.

Sorry for the long story. If I don't tell how I came to my position, claiming that you should look into a "cat only" vet might sound pompous.
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Most of the questions I asked my new vet were trick questions. :p

Do you recommend a particular type of food? If the answers was going to be "oh, we sell the very best right here. Science Diet/Nutra/Royal Canin...whatever then it was going to be a quick goodbye.

DO you declaw? IF the answer was "yes, we provide the service" Then it was going to be a quick goodbye.

What are your opinions on raw? If the answer was "IT's dangerous and terrible" THen it was going to be a quick good bye.

Then I asked about the vets. Did they have pets of their own, what do THEY feed, what sort of animal related curricular activities are they involved in, how long have they been in practice.. that sort of thing.
I plan to look for a new vet, too. My first visit with the local vet was very good, but I was really dissatisfied with the two following visits. GhostTown, there is a cat-only vet a out half an hour away which I am considering. Hopefully they will be as good as the one you found.
i don't know that you need all the bells and whistles the place i go has:

The Center for Animal Wellness - Downtown Denver Veterinary Services - Home

but i've been going there since '92, geez 20 years. i've seen both dr. aubrey and dr. andy and it's either or.

they aren't cats only but it's one side dogs, one side cats.

i'd agree with (whoever's just above me, i think it's mow mow, i can't remember :() to ask:

1) do you declaw? (answer should be no)
2) what kind of diet? (i actually think the answer should be ambiguous--there are arguments for raw and there are arguments for canned and anyone can research and decide for themselves, based on the time and money they have) and guard against a place that pushes their own agenda and products;

just remember: i used to think vets all wanted to help animals. the sad truth is that some of them just weren't smart enough to get into med school (and 50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class) so go with how you feel personally. they aren't all good and sometimes a longer drive or a little extra expense is worth it.
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The thing is, my current vet has a tiny office...literally. There is only one exam room and a small waiting room. And it's actually two vets, a male (the head vet) and a female (the nicer of the two). I like the female vet because she actually seems to be more concerned about the welfare of our cats and will explain things when I have a question. The male vet seems to be the more knowledgeable than the female, but he has a very thick accent (I think he's from India) and is very hard to understand. I do ask him to repeat himself, but it doesn't help. The only really good thing about this office is that the female vet lives within walking distance to the clinic, so if an animal needs to be checked on, she can do it. The only thing that's really keeping us at this particular vet is the cost. Hopefully, when I talk to the other vet, their rates will be just as reasonable.
I think the best way to know a vet is to use their services. Start small, like a periodic check-up. See if the vet inspires your trust, if you feel relaxed in their presence or tense, if you feel comfortable asking questions and if their answers feel knowledgeable rather than gimmicky.

Eg: I adopted a stray whom I'd known for over a year and she had the most beautiful white fur, but lately it looked like the roots of her fur were all black. The vet that came for her initial check-up said it's natural pigmentation, when I knew perfectly well it wasn't. Indeed, she now has the same beautiful white fur she had at the beginning. If you don't respect a vet's answers, to me that's a big red light.

I tried a new vet a couple days ago. I liked him very much. Among other things, because he charged almost nothing and he said he'll always charge little for my cats because they're rescues. He seems very knowledgeable to me. He's gentle, both with my cats and with me. Of course it helps that he comes with the best recommendations, he treats tons of stray cats working with a very, very demanding and picky cat specialist lady from a strays' organization, so I knew a lot about him before I met him. His clinic is pristine, and his assistants are great.

I'd say don't switch vets, just start giving him a few small jobs and let time decide between the 2 vets.
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