You need to find a good vet before your cat has an accident or an emergency arises. It is wise to have done this before the cat comes into your home. If you found your cat or kitten locally, ask the sanctuary or breeder for who they would recommend. You may be able to use the vet that you cat has already been seeing. If your cat comes from a different place, ask your neighbours who may have a cat for their recommendations. Or a local cat club, telephone numbers are available from the Governing Council of the Fancy Cat in the United Kingdom, or the Cat Fanciers’ Association in the United States, and equivalent organizations in other countries.
Choosing a vet for your cat, is just like choosing a doctor for your family, but while doctors only have to deal with one species, a vet has many. They probably won’t specialize in all fields, and some may not be totally up to date with cat ailments. This can be a problem if you live in a rural area, as they will tend to geared towards the larger animal such as horses and cows. In urban areas, they are more likely to be devoted to treating small animals.
If you have a list of different practices, ask for a list of fees for consultations and the cost of care items such as vaccines, blood tests, flea and worming treatments.
Before you visit the vet, consider what it is you would like from the vet. If you have a neutered house cat, you will probably only see the vet once a year for booster vaccines, so ask about their policy for routine check ups. If you have a show cat or wish to breed from your cat, you will need to think about locating a vet that specializes in breeding and has a good knowledge of pedigreed breeds. This is normally easier in the city than in the countryside.
Once you have found a practice that is cat friendly, it is worth going through a mental checklist of what you need to know.
Check the opening hours. Is an appointment needed, or do they run a drop-in clinic between certain hours. Both can operate well in the same practice, but if you are working you may need a combination of these options for flexibility. Make sure there are weekend and occasional evening clinics.
Check the arrangements for emergencies. Will your cat be treated by one of the practice vets or will your cat be emergency staff. This may be significant if you have a pedigreed cat at requires special attention. What is the policy for home visits? This may be important if you have a breeding cat, incase you need help with the birth. Does the practice specialize in feline medicine and surgery.
If it is a member of a national advisory organization (such as the Feline Advisory Bureau in Britain) it will be up to date will all the latest health care information.
Ask about alternative and complementary treatments for your cat, such as homoeopathy, chiropractice and acupuncture. Look for a good holistic approach, as the benefits of these treatments, especially for the older cats, can be immense.