When you need to take your cat to the vet, either for a regular health check or because you suspect something is wrong with you cat, it is important to choose a good clinic. Depending on where you live, the vets available to you may or may not have had a great deal of training on cats, but many vets are increasingly passionate and knowledgeable about cats.
You may already go to a clinic that you are very happy with, or you may have had a clinic recommended to you by a friend or relative, which is always a good starting point, but what else can you look out for? You will want to find a clinic where they make efforts to minimise the stress of the visit for the cat, and where you will find a good vet.
What to look for in a good veterinary clinic
It is always best to try to decide which veterinary clinic you are going to use in advance of any specific need. Finding a good clinic may be much harder if you are faced with needing to find a vet urgently, as you will not have time to look into differences between clinics. The following pointers should help you choose:
- Have a look around the clinic
Contact the clinic and explain you are looking for a clinic where you can take your cat, and ask if you can go and visit (without your cat) and have a look around. Most vets will be more than happy to show you around the clinic and allow you to see what facilities they have. Think of it from your cat's point of view as well, and whether you think he or she would be comfortable there. Remember that different clinics may have different facilities and different approaches to cats and their owners.
- Ask if the clinic is an ISFM Practice Member
The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) is the veterinary division of International Cat Care. ISFM offers Practice Membership to clinics - if they are members they have a certificate they can put up in the waiting room and you will know that they are regularly getting access to high quality information on the latest developments in the veterinary care of cats. You can also look at which clinics are ISFM Practice Members on our web site - see the list here.
- Ask if the clinic is an ISFM Accredited Cat Friendly Clinic
The work International Cat Care has done has highlighted the need for veterinary clinics to be ‘cat friendly’. ISFM now run a Cat Friendly Clinic programme that specifically encourages clinics and the veterinary staff in clinics to be more 'cat friendly' and to have facilities and attitudes that help to reduce the stress of a veterinary visit for your cat. Accredited Cat Friendly Clinics have had to achieve minimum standards that help ensure your visit is as pleasant as possible for both you and your cat. Find out more about the Cat Friendly Clinic programme here, and you can also see a list of accredited Cat Friendly Clinic here.
If the clinic is belongs to our Cat Friendly Scheme, they will also have a cat advocate in the clinic who works to improve the cat care - you can speak to them and ask them any questions you may have.
- Ask if any of the vets is a member of the ISFM Academy of Feline Practitioners
Just like medical (human) doctors, many veterinarians undertake further studies after they have graduated so that they can develop deeper knowledge in certain areas. Membership of the ISFM Academy of Feline Practitioners is awarded to vets who have undertaken certain further qualifications to demonstrate their additional knowledge in the care of cats. You can find a list of the members in the Academy here.
- Ask if any of the nurses or technicians have done the ISFM Certificate or Diploma in Feline Nursing
Similar to vets, nurses and technicians can do further study to gain knowledge in different areas. Nurses and technicians who have done the ISFM Certificate or Diploma in Feline Nursing will have a much greater understanding of, and knowledge about cats. You can find a list of Certificate and Diploma holders here.
Although there is a lot to take in when choosing a veterinary clinic for your cat, ISFM (the veterinary division of International Cat Care) is at the forefront of trying to improve both veterinary knowledge and improve the quality of care for cats and cat owners in the clinic. Looking for a clinic that meets some or all of the above criteria will mean that you have peace of mind when it comes to taking your cat to the vet.
Support your local cat friendly clinic
If you find that your clinic has made great efforts to improve both your and your cat’s experience of visiting the vet, then let them know, and tell your cat enthusiastic cat friends too. Giving good feedback will encourage the clinic to do more, and to give you and your cat even better care!
For further information about transporting your cat to the vet click here.
For further tips on what to look for in a good veterinary clinic click here.