By Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, founder of the Northern Illinois Cat Clinic
We all want to take our family cat to a veterinarian we can trust. One who we know will take the best care of our kitty. In order to do this, you will have to do some detective work. The reward—finding the right feline veterinarian for your beloved cat—will be well worth it.
Here’s what to do:
Ask your friends
Your friends are one of the best resources you have. They will be open and honest about their experience and tell you what to expect.
Check out online reviews
The Internet is another great resource. Most, if not all, local veterinary clinics have online reviews from current and past clients. When reading online reviews, aim to gather an overall impression from other customers of the clinic, and don’t give too much weight to overly positive or negative reviews—they can be misleading and are not necessarily indicative of the general experience.
Call the practice
You should hear a smiling and happy person on the other end of the phone. The person answering the phone should be able to answer all of your questions or direct you to someone at the practice who can. They should also show interest in your cat. Questions like “What is your cat’s name?”, “How old is your kitty?,” and general concern for your cat’s health are all positives. If the person answering the phone sounds stressed out or is uninterested, continue your search elsewhere.
Ask for a tour
A clinic should be ready and willing to give you a tour of their facility. This shows their clinic is clean, organized, and they are proud of it. This also tells you as a cat guardian that this practice has nothing to hide. When you come in for a tour, the staff should be happy to see you. The clinic should be neat, clean, and free of any offensive odors. Ask to see their surgical suite and some of their equipment. Make sure everything is as clean in the back as it is in the front.
Look into the veterinarian’s background
Key things to investigate include: How long have they been in practice? Have they always specialized in just cats? A new graduate may not be the best choice for your kitty, as experience with cats and feline disease is very important. You should be able to research all of this information on the Internet.
Pay attention to longevity of practice
Clinics close all the time. Normally, the longer a clinic has been in business the better, because it means they practice decent veterinary medicine and have a strong client base. Clinics go out of business when people stop coming to see them, and clients tend to leave clinics when they do not feel their cat has received the best care.
A few other things you should ask the practice:
1. Do they offer payment plans?
2. Do they have digital radiography, ultrasound, and “in house” blood testing equipment? If they do not have these, your kitty may be transferred to an emergency clinic for testing when more extensive examinations must be done.
3. Do they require appointments? This will lessen your wait time and can also indicate the quality of the practice.
Finding a good cat veterinarian can take some work but will always pay off in the end. So be proactive in your search, ask a lot of questions, and don’t settle for less than the best!
Dr. Rebecca Schmidt founded the Northern Illinois Cat Clinic in 1982, a full-service, feline exclusive veterinary clinic located at 295 Peterson in Libertyville, Illinois. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has recently certified the Northern Illinois Cat Clinic as a Cat-Friendly Practice. Learn more about the Northern Illinois Cat Clinic online or follow them on Facebook.