My cats had used the same veterinary service for many years and we were all satisfied with the care, attentiveness and facilities of the regular neighborhood veterinary service that has a team of three doctors.
However, a few years ago though, one of my cats got a dangerous and life-threatening infection, called a pyometra, which is basically when the uterus fills with puss in an intact female. The cat had not been previously spayed because my vet was uncomfortable with the surgical risks for her because of a heart murmur. Since she was indoors only and had no chance of getting out, I had been comfortable with that.
When she started vomiting severely and bleeding vaginally, my vet was not available, so I rushed her to the Bobst Hospital of the Animal Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with this condition and underwent emergency surgery. The details I learned about the Animal Medical Center’s surgery success record made me comfortable enough to bring my other cat, who also has a heart murmur, in to be spayed, to eliminate her risk for pyometra as well. Yes, it is more expensive than a local vet, but the Animal Medical Center a safer facility for at risk animals. Additionally its emergency room, which I used for the cat that evening (and which I’ve had to use on another occasion since) is open twenty-four hours, triages cases based on their severity and has the type of medical technology you’d expect from a human hospital.
What I learned from this experience is that when it comes to cat veterinary care I am willing to sacrifice highly personalized care for top facilities and 24 availability since there are some health problems that just can’t wait.
Because of this experience I would highly recommend that when choosing veterinary care for your cat that you find out their surgical success rate (how many animals they loose per year under anesthesia), if they are affiliated with an animal hospital and/or what their emergency procedures are. In addition, inquire about their vaccination policies (do they recommend all or not? do they allow non vaccinated animals in their recovery areas or are they quarantined from other pets?) and whether there are any non-prescription products they sell (I personally try to avoid veterinary services that have gotten into the corporate marketing business).
For regular veterinary check ups, you want to focus on how your cat is most comfortable, but be sure you have an emergency plan regardless of whether it includes your regular veterinary service or a special one you have chosen just for such circumstances. Your pet’s life could depend on it.