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Working with a Veterinarian
Finding a veterinarian who you’re comfortable with for the community cats you care for can be difficult. You can use our Feral Friends Network® to find one who has experience with community cats, and who might even offer low-cost services. If there isn’t one in your area, share our veterinarian resource center with your personal veterinarian to help him or her learn about the proper care for community cats.When you find a veterinarian, protect yourself and the cats you’re helping by having an open conversation about pricing, appointments, and testing policies. By understanding expectations, you can build a professional and trusting relationship and know that the cats are in good hands.
- Pricing: Determine a personal budget for spay and neuter surgeries so you can keep up with necessary costs. Talk to the veterinarian and agree on set prices, including the cost of anesthesia and pain medication. Also, it’s a good idea to work out costs for other treatments, including flea treatments, deworming, and ear mite medication. Some veterinarians will offer discounts because you’re providing a community service, so don’t be shy–ask!
- Appointment Policies: Find out the number of cats the clinic can accommodate in a single day. Make sure your veterinarian is flexible–it’s always a possibility that you’ll trap more or less cats than expected. Many veterinarians who have been a part of TNR efforts in the past know that it’s often not an exact science!
- Testing Protocols: Talk to the vet about FeLV and FIV testing, and make sure it’s not a requirement before surgery or treatment. Alley Cat Allies is against testing for FeLV and FIV and euthanizing cats that test positive, because a diagnosis should not be a death sentence.
- Vaccines: Find out if they require any vaccinations. Work out a plan where this cost is included with the spay and neuter services being provided. We recommend getting rabies vaccinations, and if possible, distemper and respiratory virus vaccines.
- Sick or Injured Cats: Have the veterinarian call you before making any decisions for the cats. You should have the power to make the decision on humane euthanasia, if it’s necessary.
- Kittens: Check to see if the veterinarian has age or weight requirements to spay or neuter kittens. Remember, kittens can be safely spayed or neutered as soon as they weigh 2 pounds or are 2 months old.
- Pregnant Cats: You may be faced with a difficult decision if a cat is pregnant, because spaying a pregnant cat will result in termination of her pregnancy. But this could be the only opportunity to spay the cat and prevent her from experiencing the stresses of mating and future pregnancies. If you choose to spay a pregnant cat, make sure the veterinarian is experienced with the procedure.
- Recovery: Talk to the veterinarian about discharge times for males, females, and pregnant females. Ask if they’ll hold cats overnight for recovery in their office, if necessary, and if there’s an extra charge for this service.
- Other Protocols: Confirm the veterinarian uses dissolvable sutures, eliminating the need for follow-up appointments to have regular sutures or staples removed. Also, make sure the vet eartips while cats are under anesthesia. This will make it easy to identify in the future which felines have already been spayed or neutered. Our Cat Clinic Tag can help ensure that both you and the clinic fully understand the expectations for this visit and the needs of each cat.