CAT'S CORNER

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Choosing a Vet

Choosing the right veterinarian is an essential first step when a new cat arrives in your life. Choosing a vet is part of your obligation to your cat. Ask your breeder or friends to recommend the vet that's right for you and your new companion.

All licensed vets are trained in professional animal care, but like doctors, vets have different personalities and specialties. Consider what qualities and services you want in a vet. You may be drawn to one in particular because of the convenient location of the vet's clinic, the services he or she provides, or simply because you find your vet easy to talk to. Whatever the reason, your vet should be your partner in maintaining your cat's health.

Find a veterinarian as soon as you get a kitten or adopt a new cat. Ask about the hours of business. Many vets are not open 24 hours, but can provide contact information for a 24 hours emergency clinic in your area. All vets do not charge alike; ask about their fees and what you can expect to pay for your first visit and regular checkups.

Once you've decided on a vet, make an appointment for a first examination as well as inoculations and worming. Take your cat to the vet in a special cat carrier, available at pet stores. Get your cat used to this container as soon as possible. Keep it in your house, open, and put a blanket in it. Your cat may start to use the container as a cave and go inside it several times a day. At the clinic, the cat carrier will give your cat a feeling of security in the waiting room -- which will likely be full of other animals she might be afraid of. Make the time to go to the vet with your cat -- even a well-meaning friend may not be able to give the vet all the necessary details, especially if your cat is ill.

Once you've established a relationship with your vet, you'll quickly see how having a vet and following his or her advice will help ensure that your cat lives a long and healthy life.

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