As the holidays approach, you may be expecting a new kitten. Once you find a reputable breeder, it is time to choose your new kitten. Kittens come with lots of responsibilities and one of them is finding a veterinarian. How do you select a new vet? What should you look for?
One common mistake, is opening the phone book or Googling the closest vet to your home and just going there. Before you settle on a vet, you should do some research. Start with their website; do they use Facebook or Twitter? While using Facebook or Twitter does not guarantee that he/she is a better veterinarian, it may show that the vet clinic is on the cutting edge and willing to adopt new technology. Because veterinary medicine is constantly progressing, you will want to find a clinic that is remaining up-to-date on the newest advances. Veterinarians spend anywhere between four and eight years after veterinary school becoming specialists in certain areas.
Another key area to consider is whether the clinic you are considering has all the equipment needed to diagnose and treat your cat. All general vet clinics should have radiograph (X-ray) equipment. X-rays are used to diagnose problems with bones, heart, and lungs. Clinics should also have digital ultrasound. Ultrasound is an important diagnostic tool that is used to examine your cat’s stomach, small intestines, kidneys, liver, and bladder. All of these are important to visualize in older cats. An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is an important diagnostic tool that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your cat’s heart. All clinics must have an EKG to monitor your pets with heart disease. Finally, the clinic should have laser surgery equipment. Laser surgery allows your cat to heal more quickly and have less pain than traditional surgery. Laser surgery is particularly important if you make the decision to declaw your cat.
In addition to making sure that the clinic has all the necessary tools you will want to make sure that your vet is trustworthy and knowledgeable. It is important that you feel comfortable taking advice and treatment from your vet. While all vets complete the same medical education, they can vary in how much continuing education they do after completing school. While this might be difficult to assess, if you feel comfortable with your vet and he/she seems to be doing the necessary research to best help your cat, you will have a good working relationship and this will help your cat receive the best possible care. If you feel uncomfortable with your vet, it may be time to move on and find a vet with whom you can work easily and trust.
Price may be a final consideration. While everyone is feeling the pinch now, it is important to weigh the cost of the services with the quality of the service. Paying a little more in the beginning for a good diagnosis may help your cat get treatment he/she needs and avoid additional costs (and suffering for your cat) later on.
Dr. Jonathan A. Yardley