- Are you a member of AAFP?
Although "cats-only" practitioners are hard to find, it is my understanding that a veterinarian who also treats other animals can join AAFP. This organization is on top of all the latest developments in feline health, and membership would be a plus.
- Do you practice early spay and neuter?
Early spay and neuter has been around for over 20 years, but the veterinary profession as a whole has not yet embraced it. The procedure produces less tissue trauma, is less stressful, provides a shorter recovery period, with a lower risk of complications. If this veterinarian does not practice early spay and neuter, ask for a referral to a veterinarian who does, should the need ever arise.
- Do you use the VASTF protocol for vaccinations?
Because of the risk of vaccine-related sarcomas, the VASTF task recommends specific protocols for the site of injections, as well as their frequency.
- May I observe common procedures, such as giving injections, drawing blood, or trimming nails?
These procedures are often carried out in the "back room," which for antiseptic reasons are off-limit to clients, however some of them can easily be done in the examination room. You may not want to watch; I do.
- Are you equipped for laser surgery?
Laser surgery equipment is very expensive, and veterinary clinics may charge proportionately higher fees after installing that equipment. On the other hand, laser surgery is believed to be faster and safer than traditional surgery.
- Do you ever accept " payment terms" for expensive tests and surgeries?
Many vet clinics post signs saying "Payment expected upon receipt of service," and most veterinarians accept credit cards. Don't be surprised if the answer is "no," but it doesn't hurt to ask.
- Do you have pet cats of your own?
A veterinarian who is familiar with the day-to-day management of a cat will be more likely to spot unusual physical conditions when examining a feline patient, and I always feel more comfortable, knowing my vet has cats of his own. The followup question is:
- If so, are your cats declawed?
The response to this question will give a good indication of the veterinarian's basic stance on declawing. (On the other hand, if you have cats that are already declawed, you might find it more comfortable to use a veterinarian who is familiar with the management of declawed cats.)
Although it is very difficult to find veterinarians who do not routinelydeclaw, I'm more inclined to give my cat's health care to one who at least provides information on humane alternatives, and only practiced declawing as a last resort. In fact, if I were to call a prospective veterinarian for an appointment to neuter a kitten, and I were asked, "Would you like a declaw at the same time?" I'd immediately cross that clinic off my list.
Armed with the questions above, you should be able to locate a good veterinarian whom you will trust with your cat; a professional who will co-partner with you for your kitty's future health, welfare, and longevity.