The answer is both surprisingly simple and complicated at the same time. Let me tell you why…
No, I’m not a veterinarian. I have, however, worked with vets since I was a teenager. I’ve known good ones, bad ones, funny ones, sexy ones, moody ones, the list goes on. They aren’t all the same- not by a long shot. That shouldn’t be too surprising since they are, ahem, human. Right? I’d venture to guess that the human and animal medicine professions are probably pretty comparable in their percentages of stellar, average, mediocre, and downright dangerous doctors. For that matter, every profession has its bad apples and star students, and veterinary medicine is no exception. That’s pretty simple and common sense, right? The complication comes when I add that all vets who are good with dogs are not necessarily good with cats. Let me explain.
Some people are either dog people or cat people, right? It’s fair to say that there are a few souls who are 100% equal in their love of both species, but the overwhelming majority of people have a preference. Veterinarians are no different. Yes, they are trained to to treat all small animals, No- that does not mean they lose their preference. Most veterinarians love dogs. Some veterinarians love cats. For the sake of arguing, let’s say you find one that loves cats. Yay- you’re doing great! But then your cat gets sick and your vet needs to prescribe medications for her. This is one of those circumstances where you’ll be able to tell right away if your vet is good with cats. If they prescribe a pill, without explaining and demonstrating how to give it, without offering a pill pocket, without discussing flavored liquids, gels for ears, compounding pharmacies, etc… Then your vet is not a good cat vet. Everyone in the veterinary industry knows that cat owners are notoriously unable to medicate their cats. This is a known fact. Either your vet, or the technician should spend a good amount of time explaining how you are supposed to get these meds into your cat, and if they don’t bother- or even worse- suggest peanut butter- you should keep looking.
Dr. Kate Cappe of Pet Care Professionals in Charleston, SC visited the salon this week and pulled out her bag of tricks just for cats. You can book appointments with her directly through her website, https://petcare-professionals.com/
Some vets are scared of cats. That’s right- you heard correctly. They may own and adore a few kitties themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of being down-right afraid of bad cats. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Hell, there’s been a few cats that scared the bejesus out of me, but they are few and far between. I’ve worked with a few vets that were always afraid of getting bitten and scratched (maybe they had incompetent techs holding for them in the past?) The vets who were good with cats always found a way to do what needed to be done- whether that included coming back on sedatives or having to gas them down with iso- if the cat needed treatment they were going to do it. Have you ever taken your cat in for a problem only to have them send you back home without treatment because your kitty was too fractious? Did they tell you not to bring them back in for an annual the following year because they were too difficult to handle? You should keep looking.
Lastly, I want to talk about vaccinations for a minute. No- not THAT one! The ones for your cat. Vaccinations in cats begin to wain in frequency as the cat ages due to many reasons. One being that cats are susceptible to forming tumors called fibro sarcomas at injection sites. Three-year Rabies vaccinations, three year Distemper vaccinations, and halting feline Leukemia vaccinations after two years of age when the cat is indoors only are all standard practice for cats to help decrease vaccine-related tumors. If your vet still requires a feline leukemia vaccination every year (regardless of your cat being indoors only), or has never mentioned these tumors to you… you should probably keep looking.
Now that we’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for; Takes time to address cat-specific issues like how to administer meds, is confident handling (or sedating) angry cats, is well-versed in feline vaccine protocols, and oozes raw sex-appeal (I threw that in to see if you’re still reading), let’s talk about how to find this needle in the haystack. Veterinarians have always relied heavily on word-of-mouth, so lets start there. Ask your friends who are fellow cat-lovers. Ask the lady down the street who is an absolute cat FANATIC, just don’t make the mistake of going in her house. Read Google reviews (just remember that someone who is un-happy with a service is far more likely to write a review than someone who is happy). It’s fine to ask people on social media as well, getting good recommendations are one of the great things about those sites. What I ask that you NOT do- do not use the words “cheap,” “reasonable,” or “inexpensive.” It will SKEW the results you get, and suddenly you won’t be getting the best cat vet recommendations, you’ll be getting the cheapest cat vet recommendations, which I’m sure you can guess will be a vastly different set of names. Do go to https://catfriendly.com/find-a-veterinary-professional/ and search for a cat friendly practice in your area. Not every practice takes the time to get this certification (it isn’t easy to acquire- you can’t just pay for it), so if yours did, then it says a lot about them wanting to attract cat owners to their practice. Don’t panic if you don’t see your vet’s name on the list. I said it’s a good way to find a vet for your cat, not a good way to judge your current one!
What I hope you takeaway from this post is that not all veterinarians are created equal, some are “cat people,” and some aren’t- which is by the way perfectly normal. That it’s a good idea to seek out someone who is a cat person to be your cat’s veterinarian (even if that means you have to use a different vet for your dog and your cat). You should definitely ask your cat-crazy coworkers and neighbors who they use for their cat, but you should not mention cost when asking. Lastly, when you find that hidden gem- you know- the brave, progressive and thorough veterinarian who’s also just a little bit sexy, you tell everyone you know about them (and send me a pic).