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Norwich Bulletin - 1/24/2011

How To Find a Vet

Relocating is really scary. It means you have to find a new doctor, dentist, nail salon and hairdresser. But the scariest of all to me is to have to find a new vet. And itís hard enough when you move within the same state, but putting over 1,000 miles between you and your favorite veterinarian can be quite daunting.

I cried when I said goodbye to the doctors and the rest of the crew at Colchester Vet. They had been taking care of my animals since I was 21 (and I just turned 60), and now I was faced with doing everything I have written about in past columns. I had to find a new doctor for my animal friends.

The first thing I did was get a copy of the complete medical history of each of my cats and make sure they were all up to date on their shots and dental work. All the information is in neat little folders and filed alphabetically. Next, my husband and I wrote down what we considered important in our search. Our list went something like this:

We decided we wanted to find a vet whose primary patients were cats, and at the same time, we wanted a vet who refused to declaw. These were two very important points for us. I also wanted our new vet to treat my knowledge of cats with the same respect I always got from Colchester.

If I called and said that my cat needed to come in immediately, that they would know I was not merely worried about a sick kitty but that I knew it was an emergency. I wanted a vet that would talk to me about my options and be practical when helping me make important decisions. And I wanted to meet everyone in the office without giving them notice.

The very best way to see what type of people are working in any office (vet or doctor), is to show up unannounced just before lunchtime. Yes, I am serious. You really get a feel for people when you interrupt their break. Will everyone spend time with you, or rush you out the door? To me, it would show me the basic character of those that ran the show.

I tried a few vets and was not happy with the condescending way I was treated. I almost felt that I was being humored, but they didnít really think I knew as much as I do. Also, the prices were far more than I could afford. I was feeling very uneasy because the move was drawing near and I was no closer to finding the right animal doctor for my cats.

I received a referral from a woman whose cats I judge at the shows. She happens to live in the town where we bought our house. The background was what I was looking for. A vet who only treated cats and did not declaw. It felt promising. I emailed them and got a very nice answer from the doctorís wife. Now it felt even more promising.

Last month during lunchtime I walked into the Primary Cat Clinic in Brooksville, Florida. I was immediately greeted with a big smile by a very pretty young woman at the desk. When I told her who I was she immediately went to get the office manager and technician. And the vet. No-one rushed me and I felt the interview went very well Ė both ways. Dr. Christian listened to me and we talked about cat diseases, behaviors, immunizations, and declawing.

His wife and I discussed the medical records, how visits were handled and showed us every room. We talked about my Abyssinians and some of the health problems the breed has in general. It felt right so I decided this was the place that I would bring my cats. I left my files for them to go through and copy.

And then there was a trial by fire. One of my cats had a problem delivering her litter of kittens and needed a C-section. A call was made and we were told to come right in. A successful operation yielded three nice sized kittens who are all doing well at this time. The vet team was caring and conscientious and did a wonderful job.

When you move and look for a new vet, do not settle for less than exactly what you want. Ask questions. Talk to everyone in the office. Feel comfortable because you are entrusting your babiesí lives to them. Itís what I did and Iím not scared anymore.

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