If you are getting a cat for the first time, moving to a new area, or just have never had to visit a vet before, then it’s a good idea to have a look at the different vet practices that are available near you. It might also be that you and your cat are already registered with a vet practice, but you are not happy with them. It is possible to change vet practices. But it is not advisable to do this often, as this can lead to confusion over pets’ medical records. 

There are many different things to consider when looking for a new vet. Finding a clinic with good facilities in the right location is important. But the people who work there are what make a practice truly great.  

The Practice 

Location  

Most cats are not fans of long journeys in the carrier. There are things that you can do to make trips to the vet easier. But choosing a clinic that is close to where you live may minimise the stress of the journey. 

Facilities  

Cats and dogs do not mix well at the vets. So look for a clinic that can keep them well apart to minimise their stress. Ideally, look for a waiting area with separate cat and dog areas; though some practices are not large enough to accommodate this. 

You can also ask about the facilities when patients stay in the practice, either for the day or overnight. Cats and dogs should ideally be kept in separate rooms, as the sight or smell of a strange dog may be stressful for cats. 

Some clinics only treat cats, not dogs or other species. These practices usually offer a high level of care designed specifically for cats, and are a great choice if you have one near you. 

Out Of Hours Provision 

“Out-of-Hours” care is there for when your cat needs emergency medical attention overnight, at the weekend, or on a bank holiday. All vet practices in the UK are legally obliged to have arrangements in place to provide this kind of care. 

Some practices provide their own out-of-hours care or share it with a local group of clinics. Others will use an external out-of-hours service, which may be at a different clinic entirely. Sometimes these emergency services may be further away than your regular practice. 

Any vet practice must be able to tell you what their out-of-hours arrangements are, so don’t be afraid to ask before committing to a practice.

Vetster option 01 (Blog)

Cat Friendly Clinic Status  

Some practices have gone through extra accreditation to show that they are welcoming to feline patients. The most popular of these is the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM)’s Cat Friendly Clinic scheme. These kinds of schemes are optional but do show that a clinic is willing to go the extra mile for their cats. 

The People  

A good vet practice is not just about the facilities and services – it’s about the people. Most vet clinics will have websites with information about their staff that you can look at.  

Long-Term Staff 

A good vet practice should be able to keep hold of their staff for long periods of time. An unhappy employee (vet, nurse, or receptionist) may not give you the best service, so make sure the practice seems like a good place to work. Most people also prefer to see the same vet regularly, so check to see if that is likely to be possible. 

The clinic’s website may be able to tell you how long their staff have been working there, but if not, feel free to ask them. Vets who have been working there for a while, and are settled in the area, may be more likely to stay at the practice long-term. 

It is quite common for practices to occasionally employ locum (temporary) staff – for example, to cover holiday, or sickness, or to bridge the gap between one employee leaving and another starting. However, if a clinic is reliant on locums to stay open, this may be a bad sign. 

Staff With Special Interests

Vets and nurses may study for extra qualifications whilst working in practice. The most common of these for vets would be a certificate or diploma in a particular area of veterinary practice. These might include:

  • Surgery
  • Medicine (diagnosis and non-surgical treatment)
  • Feline Medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency and Critical Care

Holding a certificate means that a vet knows more about one particular area, but also demonstrates that they are keen to continue to learn and improve as a professional. 

Some certificate holders are recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as “Advanced Practitioners” in certain areas. This means that they have done additional examinations and are required to do more training each year to stay up to date. 

If you attend a cat-only clinic, you might encounter a Specialist in Feline Medicine. These clinicians have undergone a 3-year residency and passed a series of exams to achieve this status.

Conclusion

There is no one single thing that makes a vet practice great – it is a combination of the facilities, the people, and just the feeling that they are the right fit for you. It is a good idea to have a look around before choosing a practice, but once you’ve committed, try to avoid moving again too often. Cats who end up bouncing between several different GP vet practices may end up receiving a lesser standard of care than those who stay with the same practice. 

Vetster option 02 (Blog)

You might also be interested in: