I've used the same vet for years, but with Jesse I started looking elsewhere. I felt really bad about it, but my old vet was expensive, he seemed way too fond of ordering tests for reasons that didn't seem quite right to me, and if I pointed out that we were in a delicate financial situation, he always acted like I was faking it, and if I really cared, I'd just pull a few hundred dollar bills out of my arse.
A general checkup on the cats was usually in the range of 100 dollars per cat, and didn't include vaccinations. Also, he liked to see the cats every six months. When Goten was bonkers, I understood, but that was both cats. And the six month exam was usually just a quick listen to the heart, and a long lecture about how I was killing Goten slowing by allowing him to get fat. I was afraid if I brought Jesse to him, he'd explode on me, telling me that if I can't afford to give Goten and Chrissy blood tests to the tune of 300 dollars every time they sneeze, how dare I take in another cat? So, I found another vet for Jesse. And saved a boatload of money on his fixing. They did it for about a hundred and fifty dollars and that included a full exam and his first set of shots, including rabies. The emergency visit when he split his stitch only cost me for the price of the silly collar, and to sterilize the wound. The final visit for the second distemper shot? I was only charged for the shot, and he did check Jesse out completely, checking his heart, lungs, weighing him, checking his incision area, etc. He told me that whenever he did the second distemper, he liked to check the cat out completely, because that is often a time when a long term problem might begin to manifest itself and if he could catch it quick, it was usually a lot better for the cat. I was impressed.
So, after much discussing, we decided to swtich over to the new vet completely. So, today, off we went with Goten and Chrissy. I was happy right away, because they allowed us to take the both of them in at once and booked them at the same time. Yes, it was a double visit, but the old vet would give me two appointment times, like let's say 9:00 a.m and 9:30 a.m. Often we would be done before 10:00, hell, we'd be done by 9:30, but I'd have to pay for two full office visits. And, I would see that he'd booked other people for 9:30 anyway. Yes, I might be sounding petty, but it was just wone more thing.
Have I told you folks that it's a joy to take Goten and Chrissy in the car? Well, if I did, I was lying through my teeth. Jesse, will lie quietly in his carrier, willing to accept fate. Goten and Chrissy feel the need to bitch about it.
And not stop.
It was warm enough so that I had the windows rolled down a bit and every light we stopped at, the people in the car next to us would just stare at us, like they were wondering what the hell we had in our car and who was in the back torturing it. Also, Goten, whenever the slightest bit upset, feels this great need to shed buckets of fur. We brushed him like crazy the night before. We brushed him this morning too, but in the car, he released enough fur so we could have built not only another Goten but an army of minions to do his evil bidding.
We get to the vet's office. Once in the receptionist area, Chrissy gets very, very, quiet. She looks out of her carrier door, her eyes so round and wide, that I feel Instant Huge Guilt pressing down upon my shoulders.
Goten, on the other hand, has no problem whining and telling everyone what a rotten owner Todd and I are. He also continues to shed violent amounts of fur. If fur were water, we'd have to build ourselves a boat while we waited. While we waited for the vet to call us, I bit my nails and worried about the "Goten is Fat" lecture I was bound to recieve.
Finally, our turn comes and we lug the cats in. I ask which one he wanted to see first and he said it was my choice. I decided to get the worst out of the way and brought out Goten. As I was dragging him out of the carrier, he let out a wail that sounded like he was a crossbreed between a cat and a wolf. "OWWOHHOHHOHHHWOOOOOOOOO!"
It was one of the scariest noises I've ever heard a cat make.
The vet laughed and said, "Someone isn't happy!" The old vet would have given me "that look," he was so good at, the look that said, "Why is your cat stressed? If you were a GOOD cat owner, he wouldn't be stressed!"
We put Goten on the table. Immedietly, I say, "I know he's fat, but..."
The vet frowns and says, "Let's get him on the scale." We do, and he weighs what he's weighed for the last few years. No more, no less. The vet looks at the scale, then at me. "Has he lost weight?" I shake my head. The vet frowns. "He's not fat. He's a big cat. If his weight goes up half a pound or more, then we'll start to worry, but if he's maintaining this weight, he's just fine!" he then proceeds to show me how not fat my cat is. How he's got muscle. When I point out that he's also got some jowl action going on about the face, he tells me that is not an indication that he's fat, it's an indication that he was probably fixed after puberty. He shows me how Goten has a lot of muscle, how he is just a big cat. "Cats are not one size fits all. Some people think they are, but cats really do vary in size and build. Goten is a big cat, not just a tall cat, but a big cat." He shows me how Goten's chest is wide and deep, how that layer covering his bones isn't blubber, it's muscle.
He then checks Goten out and raves about his teeth. "A little bit of tarter in the back, but otherwise excellent teeth!" He raves about the quality of his fur. "What do you feed him?"
I explain that we alternate him between canned and homemade cat food. If we're giving them canned, I give them a little bit of Missing Link or a squirt of fish oil. I tell him the homemade food I make and what I use to doctor the recipe, if I don't feel it's enough. (Missing link and /or salmon oil usually.) I also tell him that we leave crunchies lying about. I tell him that Goten is very picky about his wet food and eats about half of what Chrissy and Jesse eat. After telling him, I brace myself for the "Well, you need to feed him this REALLY OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE diet we sell here, and if you don't, I will point out to you, every time I see you, how your cats are not as healthy as they could be."
Instead, I get, "Well, whatever you're feeding him, it's wonderful. His eyes are bright, his coat feels good, his teeth are good." He checks his nails. "Perfect! Clean and clear at the ends, pink closer to the paw." Pinches a nail. "Good strength too, good feel, not dry and brittle."
I blink, wanting to cry. I just never felt like I could make my old vet happy. Once Goten wasn't crazy anymore (I have to give credit, when Goten was nutzoid, my old vet was very good, very understanding, and very supportive of the fact that we refused to just give up and put him under) I dreaded going to him, dreaded the feeling like I was some ignorant catmommy feeding her cats on the feline equivalent of Sugar Smacks and Jolt Cola.
Goten gets his shots and a compliment from the vet on how well he handled them. We put Goten in his carrier. Chrissy is next.
Chrissy doesn't look to great, mostly because she was in the "I refuse to let anyone touch me with a brush" stage a bit ago, and got some mats. I can't help her when she's at that stage, all I can do, is keep an eye on her and shave up her back area when the mats come. The vet laughs and says, "She doesn't like to be groomed, does she? My cat is like that, we're always having to shave him..."
I relax and explain that Chrissy goes through phases. I tell him I've been increasing the fish oil the last few days, thinking maybe she's been objecting to being groomed because her skin is dry. He says he doesn't know if it will help her, but he's sure it won't hurt, as long as I'm not increasing the oil too much. When I tell him that her stools are still very soild, he nods, says that I can keep doing what I'm doing.
Then, he checks her ears. I've mentioned that Chrissy likes to shake her head a lot and that my old vet said her ears were fine. I was cleaning them with ear cloths, but just the very outer edges. (I'm not going to mess with the delicate insides of a cat's ear.) He grabs a cotton swab and digs down. "She's got earmites. Let's clean that up a bit." He cleans her ears, gives her some drops. A few minutes later, she shakes her head and a big lump of waxy mites comes out.
And I am furious. Not at the new vet, at the old one, who kept telling me she was fine. Who told me she didn't have mites, and refused to really dig into her ear and see what was down there. Yes, I know she's a dark cat, so it always looks dark down her ear, but he could have still checked. I'm also mad at myself for not being more forceful with the vet and insisting that he check more carefully. I guess I figured that the old vet was so quick to draw blood for tests from Chrissy, that he must be anal about checking everything. I was wrong.
Except for the ear mites, Chrissy is fine. She weighs less than half of what Goten weighs. He showed me the difference in their builds, how delicate she is. I said I was worried about her woofing and not putting on wieght. He said she has a healthy metabolism and that we'd keep an eye on that, but he didn't see any reason for worry about it. "As long as she's not eating 24/7, as long as she does seem to get full and walk away from food, she's not starving to death."
The vet asks all sorts of questions, which I loved. Questions about how they sleep, what they're like, how they eat, how they get along, and he makes little notes. I don't get the feeling he's drilling me, I get the feeling he wants to get to know my cats, so he has a clue what they're like.
"Do they like to chew on things?"
"Besides human flesh?"
Vet laughs. "Yes, besides human flesh."
"Goten will gnaw on a raw bone if I offer it. Like a raw chicken bone, if I'm making him chicken. I only let him keep it for ten minutes, and usually he's done in five, but he does like to just sorta gnaw on it."
The vet nods. I ask if this is a problem, and he shakes his head. "Nope, not at all. I was just wondering because I have another client with an orange cat who likes to chew and gnaw. I might suggest she tries a raw bone and see if that helps."
We talk about how I prepare raw food again. I tell him I never feed raw pork and we agree that's smart. I also tell him that if I make up extra raw homemade cat food, it's put in small, one day sized portions and frozen immedietly for later use and always thawed in the refrigerator. He nods and says as long as I'm taking those precautions, he doesn't see a problem with it. He laughs that I try to get the organic meats from the health food market when I can. "Do you only eat organic?"
"Nope. I buy whatever is on sale. But I'm human thus, my kind are responsible for chemicals. Cats do not invent pesticides and chemicals. Therefore, they shouldn't have to deal with them."
He laughs again. Tells me once again I'm doing a great job and I leave.
Cost for both exams (which couldn't have been more complete) vaccinations, and ear medicine for Chrissy? 135 dollars. And, they'll take a check! I didn't have a check, of course, but it's nice to know that I can bring a check the next time. I guess once you prove you're a decent customer (which I must have with Jesse) they will take your check.
We bring both cats home. Chrissy is amazingly quiet on the ride home. I think she realized, "I'm going hoooome!" Goten still whines and makes loud noises.
We get home and let the cats out. And I tell them, "You can't guilt me anymore. The vet says I'm taking good care of you and that you're all healthy. So, the guilting me for tidbits and extras, ends now!"
Goten looks at me and snorts. I know he's thinking, Yeah, right.
He's right. They'll always be able to manipulate me for an extra goodie or to buy that toy I think they'll like. They will always have me wrapped around their little paws.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.