(I set up an appointment for my cat to get his annual exam and vaccines at the vet clinic my boyfriend and I had been taking him to since we first brought him home at 3 months old, at the point of this story, he was two and a half years old, meaning with all his kitten appointments (booster shots, sterilization, etc) we had taken him a total of seven times prior to this. Up until this point, we had always seen the same vet, and our cat was very comfortable with her, often purring through his appointments.
The day before the appointment, I got a phone call;)
Receptionist: Hi, [my name]! I’m calling to confirm [cat]’s appointment for tomorrow at [time two and a half hours earlier than the appointment was scheduled for].
Me: Um, I scheduled that appointment for [appointment time].
Receptionist: We don’t have any slots available at [time], we can try to fit you in between appointments, but I can’t guarantee time for a full exam and vaccines.
Me: I scheduled this appointment weeks ago, even picking a later date, because [time] worked best with my boyfriend’s schedule and he’s the only one who drives. There’s no way you can give me the the time my appointment was scheduled for?
Receptionist: I have it in my system that your appointment was scheduled for [two and a half hours later].
Me: Whatever, I’ll take it, I guess. I want to stress though that I would never have picked an appointment that late, there’s no way this error was on my end.
Receptionist: Okay, well, don’t forget to bring in a fecal sample.
Me: Fecal sample? We’ve never had to bring a fecal sample before.
Receptionist: It’s a standard part of every annual physical.
Me: It’s not going to cost anything extra, is it? I just moved two weeks ago, and it cost more than I’d thought, so my money’s pretty tight for the rest of the month, I can’t afford to pay anymore than what I am for the physical and vaccines.
Receptionist: It’s a standard part of every physical, don’t worry.
(Luckily my boyfriend was able to move some things around, so I didn’t have to take the cat on the bus to get to the appointment, but that’s the only positive part of the experience.
We got to the appointment, and discovered that the vet our cat had seen since his very first appointment was not the vet he was seeing that day, we got no explanation as to why we were seeing someone different, or where our usual vet was. After checking the clinic’s website, we discovered she wasn’t at the clinic any longer, however no one offered us any information at all.
The vet who examined our cat seemed incredibly under-qualified, and much more concerned about selling us products we did not need, than the health and well-being of our cat.
It’s worth noting here, that while he is technically a Domestic Short Hair, we’re reasonably certain our cat has some Bengal in him, due to his size. He measures at around 3ft long, which is double the average length for a DSH.
After weighing our cat;)
Vet: He weighs 15lbs!
Me: Well, he is pretty big, so that’s not too surprising, that’s only a couple pounds more than I thought.
Vet: He needs to lose weight! He should be an 8lb cat! What are you guys feeding him?!? (looking at boyfriend)
Boyfriend: He lives with her, so she can answer that better than I can.
Me: Up until two weeks ago he was on [brand name] dry food, which I found gave him that little bit of pudge on his tummy, but he only gained about a pound or two. I would have changed his food, but my old roommate had a cat with a really sensitive stomach, and her cat couldn’t handle the food we had [cat] on. When I moved I changed him to [better brand], and he’s been doing a lot better on it. He also gets one can of wet food each night, but we don’t have a strict brand for that, it’s just to make sure he gets enough water, since he’s pretty bad at drinking enough.
Vet: Do you free-feed him?
Boyfriend: Yeah, we always have.
Me: It’s monitored free-feeding though now. My old roommate like to truly free-feed, but I always make sure to track how much he’s eating. He always has food in his bowl, but I measure it and make sure he’s only getting two servings of dry food, and his one serving of wet food.
Vet: You need to stop free-feeding. He only needs three servings of food a day.
Me: As I said, I measure his food. He’s always been a grazer though, so putting him on a feeding schedule won’t work, because he only eats a few bites at a time. It takes him anywhere from 8-12 hours to empty his bowl.
Vet: Well, it might be hard at first, but eventually he’ll learn that if he doesn’t eat when the food goes out, he won’t eat at all.
Me: No, I’m not doing that to my cat. He’s not that pudgy, and aside from that, I just adopted a second cat, and she also free-feeds. It’s working really well, considering she needs a smaller serving size, and quite frankly, they both under eat anyway.
(The vet then spends another ten minutes scolding us for letting our cat get so “horrifically overweight,” and trying to sell us a specialty diet food that is way out of our price range. She finally gave up when my boyfriend and I started getting snappy with her.)
Vet: Okay, how has [cat]’s behaviour been lately?
Me: As I mentioned a few minutes ago, I just adopted a second cat three days ago, so right now they’re having their territory and dominance disputes. Before that though, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Vet: (reaches into cupboard and pulls out a spray bottle). You should try this, it’s a synthetic pheromone that mimics the one mother cats let off to calm down kittens. It can help with the fighting if the cats aren’t getting along.
Me: Thanks, but I’m not going to bother right now, I don’t really have the money for that, and it’s only been three days. When [cat] was introduced to my old roommate’s cats, it took him about a week to adjust. If it goes on longer than that, then we’ll look into it.
(The vet then spent another five minutes trying to pressure us into buying the spray, and implying that the two cats should have been best friends by this point).
Vet: Have you had [cat] treated for fleas?
Me: Yes! Because I was moving, and my old roommate was having someone take my room, who has her own cat, we treated all the cats in the apartment over the two weeks before I left. His last treatment was the day before I left, and should have prevented him from getting anything during the move as well.
Vet: You did just bring a new cat home though, was she treated?
Me: Yes, the shelter treated her shortly before we adopted her. I also looked her over a couple times to be sure.
Vet: Well, they should each be treated at least one more time before winter. I can do a course of [high-end brand] treatment for [astronomically high price], if you want to set an appointment for that.
Me: No thank-you. They’re both indoor cats, and only go outside on the leash occasionally in the summer. When they do, I give them a preventative OTC treatment from [pet store], and check them to be safe. I also do a couple preventative treatments if they haven’t gone outside, just in case something makes it into the building, because he sometimes runs into the hallway.
(Cue more selling pressure, and scolding. By the time that finished, we were half an hour into the appointment, and the only part of the exam she’d done was weighing the cat. She finally started the rest of the exam, and we noticed right away that she wasn’t handling our cat properly at all. She had made no effort to get him comfortable with her, instead she was flipping between being overly hesitant, and grabbing him roughly. He started to get defensive, trying to jump off the table, and even baring his teeth at her, which is incredibly out of character. He’s a very social, non-aggressive cat, usually. When I tried to comfort him, I was told to stay out of the way, and was shooed back.
The vet skipped half his exam, refusing to go near his mouth, or paws, and not offering us any information on his health. When it came time for the vaccine, she offered him a treat, which I recognized from a previous visit as a dog treat, thankfully our cat wasn’t interested in it, after getting a better look at it later on (and consulting with a couple friends who own dogs), it was determined to be a treat that is commonly used to distract dogs at the vet, because it takes so long to chew. Had our cat tried to bite it, he more than likely would have hurt his teeth.
With the exam finished, and the vaccination completed, it was time to pay for the visit. The total was much higher than we’d anticipated, even with estimating higher than last year’s physical and vaccination was. When we asked, we were informed that the fecal sample I was told was “standard for an annual exam,” and led to believe was included in the price, was actually an additional charge, only a few dollars less than the exam was. At this point, our cat was angry, stressed, and trying to claw his way out of his carrier, so we swallowed our anger, and paid, in the interest of getting our cat home as quickly as possible.
It took me 20 minutes to convince my boyfriend (who hadn’t been able to make any of the previous vet appointments) that that is not how they usually go, and that the old vet would have been done the exam in the time this one spend scolding us, and trying to sell us things. It took an additional 20 minutes to calm our cat down.
The fecal test results came back the next day, and I was informed it was ringworm, then given information that contradicted that diagnosis.
I took both of our cats to a different vet a few days later, and upon explaining to the new vet what happened, he was appalled, and took extra care to make sure both cats were comfortable, especially before going near their tummies.
Upon him receiving the fecal test results from the first clinic, I was informed it was actually roundworm, and had probably come from one of the other cats at the shelter. I had them treated immediately, and confirmed with the veterinarian that had we treated them for the original diagnosis, it would have done nothing to help, as ringworm is a fungal infection, whereas roundworm is a parasite.
It was also confirmed that the cat we were originally told was horrifically overweight, was actually only a pound or two overweight, and it is nothing to be concerned about at this point. The new vet confirmed my theory that our 15lb cat wouldn’t survive the weight loss the previous vet wanted, and more than likely wouldn’t be able to reach the 8lb mark. He also confirmed that we don’t have to treat them for fleas nearly as often as we were told to, due to the lack of exposure they have as indoor cats. Upon looking at the cat’s teeth, I was also told to absolutely not change his food, if I could help it, because at two and a half years old, my cat has no plaque build up whatsoever, which is almost unheard of.
Ultimately it worked out for the best, because we found a vet who truly cares about the well-being of our cats, who for the record, are best friends now, no synthetic pheromone spray needed.)