How to interview and choose a new veterinarian

It’s a new year and a great time to start to shop around for a new veterinarian. Did someone new move in last year? If yes, check them out! You could be in for a delightful surprise. Call every groomer, pet shop, dog walker (even if you only have cats) and cat sitter in town and ask for referrals.

A good veterinarian is worth their weight in gold, platinum, and diamonds.

This could be love and long lasting relationship

  • Is a Smarty Pants – in the best way possible, really smart and thinks outside of the box
  • Really listens to you and takes notes
  • Loves that you are asking a lot questions about their training, special interests and classes, areas of medicine that really inspire them
  • Does not roll eyes at you if you bring up something sensitive or disagree
  • Shows emotion when you are given bad news or lose an animal
  • Allows you to watch blood draws
  • Allows you to see and inspect their surgery room and kennel area
  • Takes classes every year including alternative forms of medicine
  • Has new state of the art equipment
  • Emails/calls colleagues at universities and out of state for advice
  • Martha Stewart approved tidiness
  • Proudly displays animal charities they donate to or volunteer for

RUN!

  • Picks bits of cat and dog fur off their clothes
  • Insists on declawing a new kitten
  • Pushes annual vaccinations for a housecat
  • Charges for quick phone calls to discuss blood work or answer questions
  • Is impolite to the vet techs
  • The waiting room is a 3 ring circus of chaos and noise
  • Ancient equipment (a good example is one clinic we know had a 30 year old X-ray machine from a human podiatrist!)
  • Thinks they know it all and does not have colleagues to consult with
  • Dust and crud on the floors
  • Rolls eyes at you or staff

Newton’s Perspective: How to Choose a Vet

Here’s an article by guest cat-tributor Issac Newton:




Issac Newton

How many of you cats out there enjoy going to the vet? Raise your paws. That’s what I thought. Just thinking of a car ride sends shivers up my spine! However, we all know that regular visits to the vet are essential for maintaining good health, so I’m going to give your people some hints on choosing a good doctor for their favorite felines. We deserve quality care with minimal stress!

Have you noticed that some clinics now specialize in cats only? This is worth considering, especially if there are no dogs in your family. It suggests the vet and staff are attuned to the particular needs of cats. However, there is no reason a cat can’t be treated properly in a mixed practice.

If you are looking for a new veterinarian don’t pick a clinic just because it is close to you. Few vets handle their own after hours emergencies these days, so saving a couple of miles driving shouldn’t be the most important factor. Find out where the Emergency Clinic is or how local vets rotate emergency responsibilities.

The following is a true story. When Mrs. S. moved to a new state she took her chronically ill cat to the closest vet. She explained Kitty’s medical history and was expecting blood to be drawn to assess her current condition. Dr. X. laughed and said he didn’t think blood work was necessary since he didn’t have a big car payment that month. Apparently he thought she would appreciate the humor and his “client friendly” views on charging for unnecessary services. However, she was horrified by his insensitivity and never went there again.

If possible try to get references from friends who have pets. Who is their vet and why do they continue to go there? Are they thinking of changing? If so, where else might they go and why?

The ASPCA has published a guide for choosing a veterinarian (general practice), http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/choosing_a_veterinarian.html, but YOU must decide what is most important to you.

My special person’s list includes respect, trust and patience:

1. Respect for me as my cat’s caretaker
2. Respect for my cat
3. Trust that includes vet, client and cat
4. Patience and willingness to explain what is recommended and why

The example of Dr X. illustrates the importance of good rapport between client and vet. If you don’t feel comfortable with the doctor how can you trust that your cat will be treated appropriately and with compassion?

Most cats will be shy or fearful in a clinic setting. Does the vet talk softly and treat your cat as gently as possible? Are you allowed to be present when blood is drawn or vaccinations are given? If the staff insists that these things must be done in “the back” a red flag should immediately appear. What don’t they want you to see?

Does the doctor explain procedures, diagnoses and recommendations in language that you can understand (without talking down to you)? Are you given options for treatments? Are the possible outcomes of different tests/procedures and medications explained? Does he answer questions to your satisfaction?

Overall, do you and your cat feel comfortable with the person you are literally trusting with your cats life? If not, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. However, if you are happy overall and concerns are minor try to work out solutions. A good relationship takes effort from both sides.

I hope these guidelines will help people to make informed decisions when choosing a vet for their special cat companions. (By the way, my person trusts my doctor completely and she has known a lot of veterinarians!) Next time I plan to talk about the cat vaccination controversy.

How To Help Feral Cats This Winter

Winter is a cold and potentially dangerous time of year for feral and homeless cats, whether or not a polar vortex is pushing arctic air into your neighborhood. Here’s some ways to help.

Alley Cat Allies is a national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of feral cats (www.alleycat.org). You may have seen their “I’m an alley cat ally” ads featuring Hollywood personalities including Portia De Rossi. Alley Cat Allies has posted a good article on how to help feral cats during the winter at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather.

Another way to help is to contact one of your local feral cat organizations. Alley Cat Allies has a posted a contact form at www.alleycat.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=1452 so they can connect you with an organization in your area that is a member of their Feral Friends Network. They also have a National Cat Help Desk that you can contact via www.alleycat.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=1453.

You can also find local feral cat assistance groups by doing search via Google for “feral cat (insert your city or area).” Contact your local group and ask how you can help.

One of the best ways to help feral and homeless cats during the winter is to provide shelters to keep them warm and out of the weather. Here’s a great video on how to make a simple low cost shelter from a plastic tote box. It even includes a cute cat helper providing supervision.

Everyone loved the article we posted about the Boy Scout who built winterized boxes to house feral cats in his community. You liked it so much that we searched for blueprints for something similar you crafty folks could make your own. Here are some plans for a larger “Feral Cat Condo” from a Michigan animal rescue group – www.voiceless-mi.org/plans/

So get out there and help feral cats this winter. You may make some new friends – both human and feline.

How To Save A Choking Cat

Generally cats are excellent at hacking up something that they might have swallowed. But sometimes the object or piece of food gets stuck in the throat and this can cause the cat’s airway to shut down and lead to death.

This illustrated step-by-step how-to will show you how to properly dislodge the object. You’ll be surprised that some of the techniques you might think will work, really don’t work and can cause more problems.

While you are trying to dislodge the object put a call into the vet’s office saying that you are probably coming in either for the cat to be looked after the object comes out or if you can’t get it out.

http://www.wikihow.com/Save-a-Choking-Cat

Learn CPR & First Aid For Cats (and Dogs)

Learn First Aid on cat and dog mannequins at the Red Cross

The best would be to take a class at your local American Red Cross. Here’s where to find a class near you. It will be a fun and very informative afternoon where you’ll learn to perform CPR on cat and dog mannequins and you’ll learn how to bandage and so much more. And did I tell you that it’s a lot of fun? It is fun and you’ll get to meet and chat with other animal people. You’ll walk out with a certificate and a bag of useful things like bandages and a guide book.

http://www.redcross.org/lp/cpr-classes?gclid=CJrn-7mJ3boCFSzZQgod8isAvQ

Here is a video from the Pets America if you can’t find a Red Cross class near you.

Something she doesn’t tell us is that we don’t breathe into an animal with as much force as we do for humans. Their lungs are much smaller than ours and can’t hold as much air as we can, so too hard of a breath from you can lead to other problems.

We are donating again to Loup Garou, the rescue which specializes in black cats and dogs!

In honor of black cats and Loup Garou (http://www.loupgarourescue.org/) we gave Loup Garou 10% of our sales on Halloween. We’ll donate 10% of our sales Wednesday November 6th to Loup Garou and Tarnish the cat, an adorable and rambunctious black kitten they rescued!

He was found under the car of Jennifer Mieuli Jameson founder and director of Loup Garou. Tarnish was only 2 or 3 weeks old when Jennifer heard his cries from underneath her car. He was so tiny and crumpled that she thought she was seeing a piece of trash. But it was a kitten, near death from starvation.

Now 3 months later, Tarnish is 4 and a half pounds and growing steadily. We’ll post of pictures of him in next week’s newsletter.

And it gets better – for the entire month of November we will donate 1% of our total sales to Loup Garou. When you shop with us please take a moment to use the COMMENTS area to tell us what you like about black cats and share your stories and feelings!

We didn’t tell you this in the last newsletter, but Jennifer and her husband are being forced from their home due to an insane rent increase. The money we raise will help them find a new home and be able to continue this important work.