by: Kurt Schmitt
So you've got a new cat, and she needs a checkup. On your first vet visit, your vet will take the lead and give you some basic information, and probably will go through a fairly standard routine.
Upwards of 90% of the information you need, however, will be based on the questions that you ask your vet. Somewhere, typically towards the end of the checkup, your vet will ask you if you have any questions.
Usually, by that time, your adrenaline has been pumping, and you've been overloaded. Your cat has been stressed and so have you.... you are both ready to leave. Do not let this opportunity pass you by.
Take this time to take the lead, and ask your questions. What questions? Well, the ones that you'll forget if you don't already have them written down. Yes, write them down now.
Much of the information being distributed today on feline diet, health, and cat care in general is either fear based (e.g. raw meat diets, vaccination scares), or profit based (i.e. advertising). It's important, therefore, to get your vet's take on some of these issues.
Here is a list of issues that you can use to formulate your questions. This is by no means all inclusive, and you'll probably have some specific ones of your own.
The important thing is that this will spark a dialogue between you and your vet that will help both of you to better care for your cat.
Here are some subjects to create your questions around...
Vaccination options: there are options for both type and schedule, and there are risks, so be sure to find out what your vet recommends for your cat.
Diet and nutrition: ask about commercial cat foods and brands as they are not all the same. What about alternatives like home made cat food, raw meat diets, and feeding table scraps?
Common cat owner mistakes: ask your vet which common mistakes to avoid.
Emergency procedures: find out what emergency procedures your vet has now, should you need it later.
Indoor or Outdoor: this is a big subject as it greatly affects your life, and the life span of your cat.
Cat litter and litter boxes: many choices can be narrowed to only a few by asking your vet for advice.
Common diseases and their signs: understanding what the common signs of disease are will help you detect problems in your cat early, and may save her life one day.
Use the above list to get started. As you write your questions, more will come to you. Write them down, even if the answers appear obvious. There is no question too small to ask your vet about the health of your cat.
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