5 ways to find a vet who really knows cats (it could save your cat’s life)

Do you ever get the feeling that, in the pet care world, cats are like the less noisy sibling who doesn’t get the kind of attention they need and deserve? (Raise your hand if you were that sibling : )

Ever look up a highly recommended vet’s website only to see a dog logo and several dog pictures, including the photos of the vet with his dogs? Finding a cat image is like Where’s Waldo.

We wonder: “Does this person have much enthusiasm for helping my cat, really?”

Not only may they be lacking joie de feline, they may also be lacking some key cat health insights as well.

The case of the misdiagnosed cat

Without giving certain details away, there’s a scene in Jackson Galaxy’s biographical book, Cat Daddy, where a cat is misdiagnosed at the vet’s office as having a condition so hopeless the vet urges him to euthanize right there.

Breathlessly (for us as the reader), Jackson’s friend Dr. Jean Hofve (a retired veterinarian) shows up in the nick of time and senses what’s really going on almost instantly. Why? Because she knows cats.

I told Dr. Hofve how blown away I was by that scene. Here’s what she said:

“Ya know, the thing is that most vets are much more dog-oriented…they don’t ‘get’ cats. What is obvious to me, having seen some 1000s of cats over the years, is invisible to them.”

She added that this was a motivation behind creating LittleBigCat.com, “Kitties get the short end of the stick in so many ways.”

Plus, cats are often more scared of doctors, needles, thermometers, etc., than dogs. A vet with a feline touch will lower your cat’s stress, making healing easier. (As Dr. Seo at Smith Ridge clinic once told me, “stress can literally kill a cat.”)

How to find a cat vet – someone who really gets cats

1. Use this worldwide search tool at the American Association of Feline Practitioners – it includes practitioners from Australia to the US who have “demonstrated a commitment to…improve their skills as feline practitioners and develop their knowledge of feline medicine.”
Tip:
 
I found more results using the “Find a Feline Practitioner” search than the “Find a Cat-Friendly Practice” search.

2. When scoping out a vet, check their website – especially the Bio or About section to see if they mention having cats at home. Look for cat-oriented images and words on the site. If necessary, consider having the audacity to call the office and ask which vet on staff has cats at home.

3. To make sure the vet has a good reputation with cats, look for lots of reviews by happy cat guardians. Look the vet’s name up on a user review site (my favorite is Yelp.com).

4. Ask every local cat person you know if they have a vet who is great with cats. Facebook and email may come in handy here.

5. If you discover a fantastic cat vet anywhere in the world, please leave their name (city, state) in the Comments below. When I have enough, I will collect and organize all recommendations on a special page and link to it here. {UPDATE – Here’s the page! Vets who really know and love cats: a list}

Let’s hear it for the vets with the joie de feline!

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27 Responses to 5 ways to find a vet who really knows cats (it could save your cat’s life)

  1. Kendra November 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I have had great experiences with Timpanogos animal hospital in lindon utah. Kinda pricey, but amazing and thorough care for all animals. their office has a separate entrance for cats, and they also offer boarding services for cats. took good care of my family cat.

  2. fg-shopping centre December 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    I think its best idea. How we can save cat life ? And i appreciate Liz-cat’s activity.

  3. Liz-cat August 21, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful recommendations! I have compiled them all and just published the page here: http://www.naturalcatcareblog.com/2012/08/vets-who-really-know-and-love-cats/

  4. Cathy Thornburn August 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Dr. Richard Palmquist At Centinela Anmal Hospital, Inglewood, CA. is the best of both worlds -western medicine and holistic treatments.
    And Dr. Mark Hohne at East Valley Vet Clinic, Sun Valley, CA is an amazing diagnostician. He’s great with both dogs and cats, has both at home. Really loves animals, and goes the extra mile.

  5. Mary Veeneman July 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    I cannot recommend strongly enough the vets my cats see. Dr. Cindy Olsen at Portage Park Animal Hospital in Chicago sees one of my cats for acupuncture and she is amazing. She is great both for holistic and conventional care and she knows cats extremely well. My cats also go to College Station Cat Clinic in Wheaton, IL for their conventional care and both Dr. Watson and Dr. Winterowd are phenomenal. They are in a new building they built just two years ago and can do a lot of things in house that other clinics would likely refer out to a specialist. They see only cats and are very passionate about feline veterinary medicine.

  6. jessica July 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Wonderful post!

  7. Sheila July 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Dr. Karen’s Critter Care, 827 W. Wyoming St.; Allentown Pa. 18103; 610-434-PETS (7387).

    I had been searching for a vet to help my 10 yr old DSH tabby spay (female) who goes through these mysterious fits where she stops eating and wont allow herself to be touched. While we still don’t know what this was, Dr. Hess has turned out to be a wonderful vet who understands cats. She helped my 16 year old male until it was his time to cross the bridge.

    Dr. Karen Hess has impressed me as a person who understands cats.

  8. Mandi July 19, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Dr. Sterling Iwashita, of Koolau Animal Hospital in Kaneohe, Hawaii, was phenomenal with precious felines. He has had several over the years, and speaks proudly of his own babies when opportunity arises. His calming presence made even our most dramatic baby sedate.

  9. Edna July 19, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I had to find a new Vet due to the Vet we saw retired and sold his practice in 2006. I found out about the Arden Animal Hospital in Sacramento, CA by word of mouth in 2007. All three of my dogs had wonderful care there by the Vets as well as the entire staff. Just watching how they interact with their patients, you can tell your baby are in good hands. The dogs are now OTRB and the resident 4 legger is the cat. They are just as thorough with my cat as they were with my dogs. I always recommend them! 🙂

  10. Christine July 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    The Cat Practice, Birmingham, MI. I refuse to take my cats anywhere else. I’ve even paid out of my own pocket for some of my fosters to be seen because I didn’t trust anyone else.

  11. bev leifer July 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Can’t believe I can’t find a good holistic vet around Long Beach, CA. But I had wonderful cat vets in Alexandria/Springfield, VA. Dr. Andrea Tasi if you want homeopathic vet. She treats only cats and is wonderful with them. She does home visits and phone consults.

    The Kingstowne Cat Clinic is also a great conventional vet practice. All the doctors there are wonderful. They even worked with Dr. Tasi when needed.

  12. Valere Hull July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Dr. Steven Hull of Carrier Animal Hospital in Grand Prairie, TX, is an outstanding vet. He has a mini Aussie named Marlee and 2 Lynxpoint Colorpoint shorthair cats. He bred these cats and showed for a number of years in the Cat Fanciers Association. He twice was awarded Veterinarian of Excellence award by the Cat Fanciers Association. He has worked with breeders and cat owners in the Grand Prairie/Arlington, TX, area since 2000. He is a .1998 graduate of Oklahoma State University

  13. Liz-cat July 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Thank you for all these helpful recommendations!

    Copying in another from “A girl, a guy, furkids and food” on Facebook: “We have an excellent vet in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Her name is Roshan Jungalwalla and she is a feline specialist (additional qualifications) at The North Hobart Vet http://www.nhvh.com.au/Staff/TheVets/RoshanJungalwalla/tabid/20990/Default.aspx She goes above and beyond for our boys and without her intervention we wouldn’t still have our 17 year old feline furkid Chilli.”

  14. Jeannine July 18, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    For Philadelphia – I go to the Cat Vet of South Street – Dr McKinstry – I love her. The Cat Doctor is also wonderful.

  15. Akiko July 18, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Liz, you may well have already covered her in your blog, and many of your readers probably know of this cat doctor in Portland, Maine, named Debra M. Givins. I don’t know anything about her practice firsthand (I’m in NYC) or her reputation. However, she is also the artist and creator of the delightful oracle deck called Cat’s Eye Tarot, which I own. Only someone with loving eyes and insights about cats’ beingness can create something like that! http://www.catdocmaine.com/default.htm

  16. Alice Fancher Towery July 18, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    I would like to recommend all the vets at Cedar Bluff Animal Clinic~ Drs. Clark, Cheadle, Rainey, Straka, & Whitmere~ all are awesome, cat loving & knowledgeable veterinarians. My absolutely favorite veterinarian at this Knoxville, TN, clinic is Dr. Kerry Seyfert Gee who is taking time off to birth & mother her daughter.

    When I lived for many years in New Orleans, Dr. Violet Nix at Chateau Veterinary Hospital was an exceptional cat veterinarian who treated & loved three of my cats who grew old & went to the Rainbow Bridge. I will always love the way Dr Seyfert and Dr Nix loved & cared for all my cat family.

  17. Kathy Planto July 18, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    We use Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio, Tx. Dr. Gary Norsworthy is a board certified feline specialist. They are a cat only vet service. My kitties appreciate not having to be around dogs in the waiting room; it is less stressful for them. We have been using them for years and appreciate the care all of the employees show to the kitties.

  18. Pat Krook July 18, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    We adore Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital in Lakewood, WA. Highly recommend two vets there in particular – Dr. Tobiassen and Dr. Thiessen. They both “get” cats, and provide thoughtful, caring attention, working with us, trusting our observations, and as important, our kitties respond really well to them.

  19. Jenna Lipson July 18, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    I have four cats ranging in age from 2 to 13. All of my cats have or have had behavioral/psychological and/or medical issues of some sort, so I spend a lot of time at the vet! 😉

    We LOVE, love, love the Sacramento Cat Hospital in Carmichael, CA! (Suburb of Sacramento, CA) It’s about 15 minutes from my house and we drive past many other vet hospitals on the way there, but it’s so worth the drive! They have three doctors there who are wonderful, and all of the techs & assistants are fantastic as well. They also work with a team of outside specialists and a holistic care doctor. I was a very inexperienced cat owner when I first started taking my cats there, and they’ve taught us SO much about cat care. I am now working very closely with them to manage my 13 year old cat’s pancreatitis & inflammatory bowel disease, and I really trust the care I get from them. I am a very “nervous mawmee” and I’m constantly on the phone with them, it feels like, asking about this or that, and they never get frustrated with me. 🙂 They really understand my cats and I know they see dozens of cats a day, but it always feels like they’re excited to see mine.

    I was also very impressed by Dr. Keuen Kim at the VCA Sacramento Referral Center, on Old Winery. We took our oldest cat there to see a dental specialist there and learn more because we had never dealt with dental disease in a cat before. He was fantastic with our boy and very thorough! We ended up choosing to have his operation done at the Sacramento Cat Hospital (where they did a great job with our little boy! His mouth is doing great now) but would have felt just as comfortable getting it done at that VCA with him, especially if it were a more complicated case. His website seems to indicate that he was hired on as an emergency medicine specialist (that VCA is open 24 hours), but we saw him as a dental specialist. It’s definitely not a cats-only place and the waiting room does mix cats and dogs, but once we got back to the exam room to see the specialist, he was great. We had some blood work done there and they were very prompt at having the results delivered and interpreted to us by the doctor himself and then forwarded to our primary care doctors (the Sacramento Cat Hospital).

  20. JaneA Kelley July 18, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    Dr. Sarah B. Tomalty at Little River Veterinary Hospital in Northport, Maine. She is, bar none, the best vet I’ve ever had — and she obviously knows cats and loves them, too. She always took the time to listen to me when I had concerns or questions about subjects ranging from vaccination schedules to raw feeding. I hope I have another vet as awesome as Sarah someday.

  21. Lorie Erskine July 18, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Woodstock Veterinary Clinic in Woodstock Georgia ( Atlanta area )
    Dr.Bustello.

    He great and cautious about over vaccinating.

  22. Angel MoMo's mom July 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Well, I don’t have a kitty anymore but I do appreciate your article and when I do have another kitty I shall use the guidelines to find a vet. I was less than impressed with the one who looked after MoMo.

  23. cindy jones July 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Just north of San Diego, CA is a neurologist/neurosurgeon named Dr. Tammy Stevenson. She is brilliant, kind, patient and an absolute kitty lover!!

  24. Lisa Barrett July 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Dr. Kaneko at the Cat Clinic of Davis. His info. is 1341A W. Covell Blvd. (in the Marketplace shopping center) Davis CA 95616 (530)756-PURR(7877). We were SO happy with him that when we moved out-of-state we wished we could take him with us. Unfortunately we’re still trying to find a feline-centric vet in the southwest MI area. Wonderful idea of compiling cat-focused vets, thank you.

  25. Layla Morgan Wilde (Cat Wisdom 101.com) July 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    So true. I’d ask whether the vet has a cat at home. We love our mobile vet Dr. Richard Goldstein and Dr. Letrisa Miller, a feline specialist in Connecticut. Both write for Cat Wisdom 101 and of course have cats at home.

  26. Ingrid King July 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Great advice, Liz! I’m going to add to this: when you find a vet who looks good on paper, make an appointment without your cat when evaluating a veterinary clinic. By going to see potential vets without your cat, you will be more relaxed. Ask for a tour of the hospital. If you want to speak with a veterinarian, offer to pay for an office visit. Most vets won’t charge you for this introductory visit, but it sets the right tone for a future relationship of mutual respect. Come prepared with a list of questions.

    As for my recommendation: Andrea Tasi, VMD, of Just Cats Naturally. She is a feline only vet who makes housecalls in the Washington DC area. Dr. Tasi only practices homeopathy. If you’re interested at all in using this holistic modality, I highly recommend her. Her website is http://www.justcatsnaturally.com

  27. Liz-cat July 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    I will start! I would like to recommend Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic, integrative vet in Oakland, California. His clinic’s logo doesn’t have a cat, but he does have a cat at home and he takes delight in seeing our cats when we have appointments with him. Also, his clinic just opened a wing dedicated to cats (and birds). It sure does reduce cat-dog stress in the waiting room.

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