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11 Tips On How To Be A Good Vet Client

August 30, 2013

I’ll be the first to admit it — I haven’t always been the best client for our vet.

I’ve questioned knowledge; I’ve doubted motives; and in times of stress (at an emergency clinic), I’ve forgotten to share essential facts — such as CG having cerebellar hypoplasia.

Photo courtesy Chiot’s Run.

That said, I really do appreciate and admire our vet and emergency clinic, I just simply don’t always behave well when my cat’s health (or life) is on the line. It’s almost ironic because I can sometimes have the wrong attitude around the people who can help me, and my cats, the most.

So now’s the chance to brush up on how to be a good vet client, so we can all have a great relationship with the folks who are so key to our cats’ lives:

  • First and foremost, it’s important to visit your vet regularly, which is essential to preventative care. Don’t only visit when there’s something wrong with your pet.
  • Try to keep a file of all of your cat’s information from his adoption papers, to vaccinations, etc. That way, when you visit a new vet, you’ll have his history in one place. This can also come in handy during an emergency.
  • Become an expert about your cat. Learn what’s normal, and keep an eye open for unusual behaviors. The moment you notice something that’s off, contact your vet.  Take notes if possible, and be specific about how your pet is acting differently. Try not to wait until a small issue becomes a big problem.
  • But don’t be an expert in everything. It’s great to be informed and ask questions, but if you have a question or concern about something your vet has said, discuss it. Don’t cop an attitude or be a know-it-all.
  • Even though some offices offer advice over the phone, don’t expect that they’ll be able to diagnose a problem during a call. Understand that many conditions need to be seen in person; however, that doesn’t mean that they can’t provide some guidance.
  • Be respectful of your vet by scheduling appointments and being on time. Every visit is a good opportunity to do your part by being courteous and timely.
  • Always bring your cat to your vet’s office in a carrier. It’s the best option to keep your pet, as well as other clients and pets, safe.
  • Follow through with your vet’s recommendations. For example, if your vet prescribes a medication for your cat, it’s your responsibility to give it to your cat. If your cat needs to go on a diet, follow your vet’s instructions. Your vet can’t help your cat if you’re not willing to do your part, too.
  • If you have an emergency, first call your vet to make sure that he’s available. He may have to work you into a full schedule, so you may have to wait. The office may even refer you to an emergency clinic, depending on the situation and your vet’s availability.
  • Be respectful of your vet, his experience and knowledge. If you’re concerned and would like a second opinion, that’s your priority. But try to not burn any bridges.
  • Pay your bill. I feel funny putting this one on here, but it’s true. Some folks will question each and every charge, or try to get out of it entirely. If you absolutely cannot afford a necessary procedure, speak to your vet about it. You may be able to come to agree on a solution that works for the both of you.

Do you have any tips on how to be a good vet client? Please share in the comments!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2013 7:34 pm

    Thank you for this post – most posts on this type of topic are generic and vague (aka useless). It’s nice to see one with actual useful information!

    You talked about this, but I’ll just be a little more specific: When you have a cat (or 8 since ’94, in my case) with a serious disease, it’s essential that you build a mutually trusting relationship with your vet. Sometimes this can take years, depending on both parties, the illness(es) involved, and the individual situations that arise.

    Keep aware of how communications are going, and adjust yours to tune into your particular vet’s style – s/he’ll understand & relate to you quicker, and that helps them gain invaluable trust in you, which helps them treat your cat appropriately no matter what situation may arise, especially if it’s an emergency situation requiring quick action. When you tell them something’s “not right”, or your gut is swaying you one way or another, they will know you well enough to trust you, your instincts, and your relationship with your cat. This can be a crucial factor especially in vague or emergency situations.

    Be involved in your cat’s care and treatment rather than just ‘following orders’, and if you have ideas for possible alternate or additional treatments, discuss them with your vet (respectfully, of course). This comes a lot easier once that mutual trust has been built, and they won’t be interpreting your ‘participation’ as a challenge, rather they will consider it a partnership.

    I use specialty vets exclusively now – my ‘regular’ vet is an Internal Medicine specialist, and I’ve been doing that for about 15 years. If you can find an IM in your area who also sees non-specialty patients, consider grabbing him/her and making them your regular vet. Your cat can be spared considerable suffering and you can be spared considerable angst and costs with a specialist, because they recognize many disease processes and signs sooner, and order the correct diagnostics sooner, rather than wasting precious time doing incorrect diagnostics – and then being referred to a specialist anyway, perhaps months later, which can mean the difference between life and death for your cat. I learned the hard way.

  2. September 4, 2013 3:04 pm

    Just to clarify because I think there was some misunderstanding a few days ago (I’m subscribed & I’m late catching up on emails), I really like this blog and my comment above was meant as a compliment. I’m really confused as to why it was interpreted otherwise. I read a lot online about various cat diseases, treatments, etc., and this blog is far better than 90% of the sites and posts out there. Anyway, thank you for your blog and your commitment to caring for cats, especially CH cats, and for helping others to help their cats.

    • September 4, 2013 3:07 pm

      You’re very kind to respond – I think it was clear that it was a misunderstanding, and I personally thank you for your original comment and this one 🙂

  3. The Liz Lemon permalink
    September 4, 2013 3:22 pm

    Thank you, Amanda. To be honest, it was actually hurtful (and I’m the thickest-skinned person I know). The most important thing in my life is the welfare of my cats, and when someone like you puts together and maintains such a well-done blog, you become special in my heart…not only do your cats mean the world to you, but you’re helping everyone to give their cats a better life, which makes you one of my heroes. It was hurtful to be bashed as “bitter” (??) and to be told to leave the blog by the other commenter. Normally bullying doesn’t affect me, but I’m very sensitive when it comes to cat welfare. I really appreciate your understanding, which is the most important thing here. 🙂

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