Finding a Veterinarian Worthy of your Cat

Jun 23, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

A wonderful client with whom I had enjoyed a great relationship for a number of years, tearfully told me last week that she was moving across country. Her career had taken a positive turn and a dream job awaited her in North Carolina. We both shared some tears and then started to talk about how we would make the transition as easy for her and her cats as we could.

She had a good plan for moving her cats that took into consideration the stress that this disruption would cause. The cats would stay in her home with all the objects and routine remaining as familiar as possible. Her son, whom the cats all loved, would stay with them while she made several trips back and forth to get the new house ready. She had Feliway plugged in. The carriers were in their spots as part of the furniture in the living room and her son would continue to put treats in the carriers and otherwise keep up the normal routine as much as possible.

Margaret, my client, had found a place to live and would get settled there before moving the cats in an attempt to mimic, again, as much of the normal routine as she could. Her commitment to her beloved Grace and Oscar was touching. We talked about a few more ideas for making travel uneventful as they drove across the country together in a month or so.

Then she asked me a really interesting question. “Can you help me find a veterinarian that will take as good care of Grace and Oscar as you and your staff have done?” We both got a little choked up again. I said I would do my best.

As it turned out, I could not find a veterinarian in that city with whom I was familiar. There was not a feline exclusive practice there. My go-to resource for reference is, because I could look for a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners or a veterinary establishment that is a Cat Friendly Practice. I struck out there, too.

The best I could do is a good plan for anyone looking for a new veterinarian:

  • Search the internet for local practices and check websites. There will be a sense of what is important to that group and an emphasis that may guide you;
  • Pick more than two to call and inquire about the practice. Ask questions about their approach to new cat patients. It almost doesn’t matter what you ask, just engage the person who answers the phone and get a sense of their enthusiasm for your conversation;
  • Ask about coming to the practice for a tour. If the answer is an enthusiastic agreement, check that one on your list with a “yes”; and finally,
  • Go by yourself, no cats, and meet some of the people in the practice. Have a tour and see how it feels to you. Have a nice conversation and see how welcome you feel.

Too often, people make an appointment, bring their cat and then don’t like the experience. But there is a sense of being trapped. You have an appointment, implying agreement to service. If it doesn’t feel right, it is hard to extract yourself from the situation without discomfort at best, perhaps embarrassment, even agreeing to some treatment for your beloved cat that doesn’t sit quite right. Better plan is to go alone and if it feels like a good fit, make an appointment before you leave.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

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  • Jennifer Moore

    The vet I have now Dr. Peggy Roberts, I actually found by email believe it or not. I was at a crossroad with another vet that had been caring for my Mikey and so I went out on a limb and decided to email a few veterinarians with the issue I was facing. Dr. Peggy was the only one who responded and she did so by actually giving me ideas that I could try with my kitty boy. Her ideas worked and without an office call. I was sold. There is no place else I would take my babies unless I absolutely had to now.

    It’s amazing when we find that connection with a Veterinarian how important they become in our lives. I totally understand where Margaret is coming from here and I would be all emotional too.

    Great article, I am loving this website so much.

    Thank you.

    • Elizabeth Colleran

      congratulations Jennifer Moore. You have found the trusting relationship that forms the strong foundation of good medical care and advice that Mikey and you deserve. The next best step is to share this experience with those in your community who would benefit by the compassionate care that Dr. Peggy Roberts provides.

      • Jennifer Moore

        And I meant to mention that in my reply but didn’t.
        I think asking others who they trust with their animals is a great idea.
        I do believe though that most Veterinarians are good, I have actually worked for a few of them. There is a lot of schooling and training and sacrifice that goes into becoming a veterinarian and most would not sign up if they didn’t love animals to begin with. Just becoming a tech was difficult enough and not glamorous by all means but it was about helping animals. I realize that clients and vets sometimes have issues, but that’s normal in any relationship, we are not always going to see eye to eye. If you look though, you will find the right one for you.