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How to Choose a Veterinarian

Which veterinarian you choose for your cat is an important decision and one that should be made before you actually bring home your cat for the first time. When you become a cat parent it’s wise to already have the veterinary clinic chosen based on careful evaluation done before you even bring kitty there for the first time.

Making the decision on which clinic to use will involve research and time and if you do all of that before kitty arrives, you’ll have the luxury of taking your time to check out more than one clinic just in case the first place doesn’t meet your expectations.

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Beginning the Search for Your Cat’s New Veterinarian


        • Ask friends, neighbors, nearby relatives and co-workers which veterinarians they use and WHY.
        • Only ask people who take good care of their pets.
        • Check online resources and online review sites.
        • Check listings in professional associations such as AVMA and AAFP.
        • Look in your local Yellow Pages and local community directories.


Do You Have Preferences Regarding the Type of Clinic?


      • Would you prefer a large multi- doctor practice or a smaller one-doctor clinic?
      • Is there a cats-only clinic in your area?
      • In a mixed practice, would you prefer they have a separate cat waiting room and exam room?
      • Do you need a clinic with later hours or a 24/hour clinic based on your work schedule?
      • Do you want a clinic that is also a boarding facility?
      • A house call or mobile clinic?
      • Does the clinic have emergency services or is there an emergency clinic nearby?

Cat at veterinary clinic

 Visit the Veterinary Clinic

If you want to spend a few minutes talking with the veterinarian (a good idea) and touring the facility (another good idea), then call ahead of time to schedule a short appointment. It’s not fair to expect the veterinarian to see you unannounced.


      • Upon driving up to the clinic, what is your first impression?
      • How does the waiting room look?
      • Does it have an odor or does it smell clean?
      • Does it look clean and well-maintained?
      • Pay attention to the receptionist – is he/she friendly and knowledgeable?
      • Are phonecalls answered quickly and professionally?
      • Take a tour behind the scenes. Boarded animals should be kept separate from hospital patients.


Determine What Services are Important to You When it Comes to the Care of Your Cat


      • Emergency services
      • House calls
      • Extensive in-house laboratory testing
      • In-house diagnostic testing (such as endoscopy, ultrasound, etc)
      • Nutrition Counseling
      • Grooming
      • Boarding
      • Behavior counseling (if so, who does this and what are their qualifications or do they refer cases)

Veterinary Fees

Everyone wants the best possible medical care for their pets but make sure the veterinarian you choose is within your budget. Another option is to find out if the veterinary clinic offers payment plans. Some clinics have exam packages such as kitten, wellness and geriatric. These packages are usually discounted in cost.


The Importance of the Veterinarian/Client Relationship

So many factors go into whether you give your veterinarian high marks or not. This is a relationship and it’s important that you feel comfortable talking with your veterinarian and also feel confident in his/her abilities.

You and your veterinarian must work as a team to ensure the good health of your cat. As a cat parent, you have a responsibility to communicate to the veterinarian and comply with instructions. Your veterinarian must also be good at communicating with you and have a bedside manner that conveys compassion.


Need More Information?

For more step-by-step tips on choosing a veterinarian and helping your cat become less stressed at the veterinary clinic, training methods, cat behavior problems and all other aspects of cat care, refer to the book Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett.