So, you have chosen a vet, and you have managed to get your cat there for an appointment without too much stress – what next? How to do you ensure you get the most out of your visit? And if your cat is unwell, how do you work with your vet to make the right decisions and understand what is happening?
Simple ways to make your vet visit go smoothly
1 – Arrive on time. If you only have a 10 minute appointment and you arrive 5 minutes late, you cannot then expect the vet to be late for all appointments after yours, just so you have your allocated 10 minutes with him/her. If you know you’re running late, be polite and phone ahead, so that (if the appointment is routine) you can rebook if necessary or arrange a later appointment.
2 – Need more time? Many veterinary practices will allow extra time or a longer appointment if you have more than one problem to discuss with your vet, or if you think your cat may need a blood test. Be sure to mention this when you book your appointment.
3 – Be prepared. If you wish to discuss a particular problem, or have some questions for your vet, why not write them down? There’s nothing more annoying that getting home and realising you forgot to ask something!
4 – Be informed. Your vet will need information in order to guide their examination and assessment – you should know your cat’s diet, appetite, drinking, behaviour, mobility, grooming habits, toilet habits (if possible – any diarrhoea? any change in urination?), whether your cat has any vomiting, sneezing, coughing – the more information the better!
5 – Be consistent. If at all possible, try to see the same vet each time, so that he/she can get to know you and your cat, and you can build up a relationship with your vet, which will come in useful if your cat ever becomes ill.
6 – Be thorough (or make sure your vet is!). ‘Just a vaccination’? Often a vet only has 10 minutes allocated for a vaccination appointment, but provided you can provide prompt and succinct answers to your vet’s questions, and your cat is well-behaved, there should be enough time for your cat to have a full clinical examination, be weighed and vaccinated, and have parasite control given if necessary. A full clinical examination should include a dental examination, listening to your cat’s heart, palpation of your cat’s tummy, and if your cat is unwell a temperature check.
If your cat is unwell, there are a number of things you can do to help both you and your cat get through this difficult period, particularly if your cat is in hospital. See ‘Helping your cat during illness’.