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Changing vets is treading unchartered waters, entrusting your cats’ lives with them

Changing vets. It’s a big move. You are treading unchartered waters with someone who you are entrusting your best furrrrever friends’ lives with.

For one I’ve held off, maybe because I thought I would have to travel  50 to 60 miles to find a vet that would do baseline blood exams, give proper dental care, and go the extra mile that my four feline(s) so deserve.

I don’t know if it was the economy, too many clients or changed staffing, but my vet of the past five years, started neglecting routine care like weight and checking teeth. She would feel the cats for lumps or growths, give them their shots, and send them out the door.

This was distressful as it was this same vet that had recommended I take my dear Tubby to a specialist, who quickly diagnosed him with FIP.

After hearing Dr. Elizabett Cohen’s presentation at the Cat Writer Association’s Annual Conference last fall in White Plains, NY, I knew I had to make a change. But to whom? And where? Those concerns were confirmed by Dr. Jane Brundt of the Catalyst Council, who said I needed to find another veterinarian.

My Linus does have halitosis, and my Pink Collar, now 12, is portly, lazy and weighs close to 15 pounds. Clyde, fit and trim, is 15, and Little Yellow, fit as a fiddle, is three (time for his baseline).

I had contacted a vet in Augusta asking for quotes on prices. Then, I remembered I had heard good things about Falls Road Veterinary Clinic. I called, and started asking questions. They recommend baseline blood work, but find many clients decline because of cost. They also stress proper dental care.

I made the appointment to take the brood in. Turns out, Pink collar needed two teeth removed and a cleaning – imminent. Linus had major periodontal problems with a cleaning. Little Yellow had some plaque build-up, which was removed without the cleaning, and Clyde has some plaque, but nothing that needs to be addressed immediately.

Dental check-ups, cleanings and extraction were not new to me. My Smokey Blue had many teeth removed in her 18 plus years with me. They had told me that cats can live without any teeth (I’d hate to think of that being the case). But I do remember she would start loosing weight at a rapid rate when she had a bad tooth. Sometimes this was caught in the annual exam. Sometimes it wasn’t. I knew that dental care was not something to be ignored.

As a side note, I am very happy with my new vet, Dr. Sterling. He’s wonderful, and I now trust that my feline friends are in good hands. I’ve also learned a valuable lesson, one that I should have carried over from caregiving experiences in the medical people world. You have to advocate for what you want. You can’t assume that a veterinarian will provide the care that you want for your pet. Not everyone has the same values, and because of that, they may not recommend the care you want or expect.

I must admit I have not been totally happy with any veterinarian that my cats have seen since I moved back to Maine in 1995. When I was in New Hampshire, baseline blood work, stool samples, dental cleanings were par for the course. In southern Maine, they didn’t do the baselines, but did the other necessary exams. It’s only been in about the past two years, that the veterinarian has become so lax. If I hadn’t made this move, Pink Collar would have definitely had some medical issues connected with her bad teeth. Linus, a Siamese, would have followed.

My next post will talk about some suggestions for dental care, and why it is so important.

Have you ever had your cat’s or dog’s teeth removed? Or have you ever had a veterinarian that just seemed to change from pretty good care to poor? If so, please share.



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