Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have been unhappy with the vet clinic that B-kitty and Jilly have been going to for quite some time. When I started taking them there, it was a small, intimate clinic with good service. Now it is more about the money and we never see the same vet — no continuity of care. How do I find a good vet that will give personalized care that won’t break the bank? How do I go about changing the kitties over to a new vet? I live in Central/Southern Maine so the choices are somewhat limited.
Siouxsie: We’re glad you asked this question, Lisa. Many cat caretakers find themselves in this position, but they just don’t know what to do, so your question will help a lot of our readers!
Thomas: Finding a new veterinarian in your home town is a lot like finding a new vet when you move far away. The first thing you should do is ask your friends and co-workers if they have a vet they like.
Kissy: Don’ forget to find one that doesn’t give your kitty all kinds of pokings and proddings. We hate that!
Siouxsie: Oh, Kissy, for heaven’s sake! Vets have to give us pokings and proddings to take good care of us!
Thomas: I could do without that thermometer up the butt, though.
Siouxsie: Ask people who have cats first. Although vets are trained to treat all kinds of animals, you want to make sure your vet is comfortable with cats … and that your cats are comfortable with the vet!
Thomas: It sounds like you know what kind of clinic you’re looking for, and that’s a big step, so make sure to ask what the clinic’s atmosphere is like. For example, Mama’s favorite vet clinic when she lived back in the midcoast area had separate entrances for dogs and cats, and the vet she found was super-awesome with cats. I loved Doctor Sarah!
Siouxsie: Me too. I used to climb up on top of the cabinets in the exam room because it was so much fun to watch Mama climb on chairs to get me down. Tee hee hee!
Thomas: You can look online for reviews, too. Services like Yelp and Google can give you a sense of how people who have gone to that clinic liked it.
Kissy: But beware that sometimes people post “grudge reviews,” too. When you find a ridiculously negative review in a sea of positive ones, that could be the case.
Siouxsie: We live in Maine, too, and we’ve lived in rural areas, so we know it can be difficult to find a nearby clinic that meets your needs. You may have to travel a bit to find one you like, so you should decide what’s a reasonable driving distance for you — and be prepared to go a little farther if the clinic is a good fit.
Thomas: You’re going to have to visit the clinics, or at the very least call them and ask about their vets. Mama wrote a column for Catster with six tips for choosing the right vet, so you should check that out for more details.
Kissy: Once you’ve found a clinic you think you’ll like, you’ll need to tell your current vet that you’re changing clinics. You don’t have to tell them why unless you want to. If you live in a small town with only one or two clinics, Mama says it’s best not to burn your bridges by being nasty to your current vet.
Siouxsie: People change vets all the time, so don’t feel guilty about it! That guilt or anxiety about telling your clinic you want a divorce, so to speak, keeps a lot of people going to vets they don’t like. You’re the customer and you’re your cats’ chief advocate, so it’s up to you to do what’s right for your cat.
Thomas: Get copies of your cats’ veterinary records from your current clinic. Your new vet will need that information so she knows the cats’ vaccination and health history.
Kissy: Remember that finding the right vet might take time, but don’t give up.
Siouxsie: Do you have any other advice on finding a new vet? Did you change vets, and how did it work out for you and your cat? Please sound off in the comments.