If you are a cat (or dog) owner, one of the questions you will be asked from time to time is “How did you find your veterinarian?"
If you are a cat breeder, finding the right vet is critical. Finding the right vet begins with deciding what you need in a vet. Oftentimes, it is not until you have the wrong vet that you discover the vet is not for you.
I was living on the 27th floor of a condominium building on downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was the center of a bustling urban lifestyle.
Coming into the lobby one day, I found a tiny Persian kitten huddling in the corner. Ours was a "no pet" building so I I was surprised to find a kitten in the lobby. It was obviously a purebred Persian. It couldn't be a stray from the street. I took her up to my condo and by the time I located her owner, I was hooked.
Before long I had purchased a Persian show male. When I received my kitten, I wanted to have him checked out by a vet.
I went to the nearest Veterinary office. Technically, it called itself a clinic. The difference between a hospital and a clinic is that the clinic had little medical equipment — they did not even have an x-ray machine. That wasn't going to be very handy if one needed to x-ray a pregnant female or check the lungs on a cat with an upper respiratory infection.
My Requirement # 1: I needed to find a better equipped facility.
Next I went to a "Cats-Only" practice, figuring this vet would have more experience with feline ailments and would be experienced at handling recalcitrant feline patients. And she did. But (and there is so often a but), there were 4 "clinic cats" wandering around the waiting room. These cats greeted every new person and their kitty with purrs and nose-touches. While it was all very sweet, I couldn't help but think that if any patient in that waiting room had an infectious problem — fleas, an upper respiratory, feline leukemia, etc, — there was a possibility that those friendly feline greeters could pick up the problem and pass it on to the next patient, including my cat.
My Requirement # 3: No Cross-Contamination With Other Cats
Then, when I went into the examination room, I found it did not have a table. The client sat in a chair and the vet sat cross-legged on the floor while the kitty walked around. My cat loved the friendly approach, but I also wondered about all the cats that had sat under that chair — and how it would be impossible to disinfect the underside of the upholstered chair.
My Requirement # 2: Cleanliness & Disinfection
I asked to go in the back room with my cat while her blood was taken for testing. The tech staff were friendly. The blood was taken. I would be called with the results the next day.
When I was called with the results, I was told everything was negative. One of the tests I had requested was a corona virus titer. I asked about it and was told by the receptionist that is was negative. I told her that that the result of that particular test was a number, not positive or negative. Eventually I spoke to the vet who indicated the test was never done and I would have to return my cat for more blood to be taken (since I had already been charged for the test).
Hmm . . . I didn't know if this was the vet for me.
Requirement # 4: Conscientious, Reliable & Honest
Before I had the opportunity to check out the next vet on my list, my cat became very ill. I went to the nearest vet but they sent me to the emergency vet where twice a day they gave my kitty sub-Q fluids. I had experience working at a veterinary hospital and asked that I be allowed to give the fluids at home. They said no. So twice a day in the middle of a freezing cold winter, I would take my very sick kitty to the emergency vet for sub-Q fluids.
This wasn't working for me.
Requirement # 5: Willingness To Trust My Abilities
Next I sat down and made phone calls to various vets asking what equipment they had. I found one with top facilities including ultrasound and in-house bloodwork.
I took my sick kitty to this vet hospital. There I met a junior vet, and there was immediate accord. I was allowed back while she given fluids and sent home with everything I needed to give her sub-Q fluids at home. This was the vet for me.
Requirement # 6: Chemistry With The Veterinarian
Eventually I moved. I was now an hour away in a different city. My junior vet also moved about an hour away in the opposite direction to open her own practice. One again, I had to look for a vet.
I tried three different vets in my new area. They just weren't up to scratch — so now I travel over an hour to my old vet. I must pass 40 vets on the way, but it doesn't matter. When you find a good vet, when you find the right vet for you, they are worth the drive . . .
Option # 7: Local
Ideally, I would like my veterinarian to be close to my home. If the local vet doesn't fulfill Requirements 1-6, I realized being close to home was an option, not a requirement.