Hi. I've been with my current vet for 5 years, after my former vet retired. Personality-wise, I like the vet, and clinic manager, but recent visits have made me question whether I should change. I have an 11 yo shorthair male at home (my other cat, 18 yo longhair female, passed in Feb), and care for a colony of seven cats on my parents' property that I TNR'd over the last 3.5 years. All the colony cats are fed, watered and loved on twice daily, have a heated kitty condo for the winter (though half of them prefer inside my parents' home), kept vaccinated, Revolution'd, and are taken to the vet for injuries or other needs, so, I make lots of trips to the clinic.
My first moment of concern was 1.5 years ago, with my then-17 yo female. There for a lion cut (she'd stopped grooming herself, I asked for a full physical, including all labs, BP, and urine if needed. The BP and urine weren't done, though the vet said she was in early stage kidney disease (high-normal BUN), and was put on an Rx KD diet. She began losing weight quickly, so while at my mom's vet with her dog, I asked the vets (two of them) their thoughts on muscle vs kidney, and they asked what the SDMA showed. Having no clue, I asked my clinic if SDMA was available, they said no.
A year and multiple blood tests later, my now-18 yo female's disease is progressing, even with my reading everything available on the subject, and trying every suitable food possible to keep weight on her (she'd dropped 1/3 her weight in a year), I took her in for another full physical and labs. Still losing weight, disease progressing, but otherwise, alert and active.
Two months after her full physical, I took her in for an emergency visit, as she had began wobbling while walking. Physical exam revealed an abdominal mass, confirmed on Xray. She had lost almost 50% of her weight from 2 years earlier, and the vet thought it would not be beneficial to do surgery, given her age and disease. I spent every minute with her for the next five days, and then made the most painful decision of my life...
My second concern was with one of my colony cats. This was a year with a lot of rain, and lots of mosquitos. The 5 yo longhair male had developed many little blood dots on his nose, it was swollen, and he was rubbing it raw with his forearm. The vet said it was likely an autoimmune disorder, and a biopsy would need to be performed, and if confirmed, the treatment is a $400 tube of topical ointment. I asked if there were other treatments, and he gave a long-lasting antibiotic shot, and said to keep him out of the sun (to which I replied he's rarely in the sun; mostly hides under sheltered areas or under bushes).
At home, not being confident and out of curiosity, I looked up feline mosquito nose, or feline mosquito bite hypersensitivity, and contacted the vet about this possibility, because online pictures of vet dermatology about feline mosquito nose looked EXACTLY like my cat, and was told no, that's not a possibility, even after telling the vet that he's not in the sun often, and there was a lot of mosquitos in the entire area that the cat frequents.
After several weeks, with failed efforts to get rid of the mosquitos, I couldn't let the cat endure his raw nose, so asked the vet if we could just treat it as if it was feline mosquito nose, with a steroid shot. The vet again said it was 95% sure to be an autoimmune disorder, and we'd need a biopsy, but honored my request and gave a steroid shot. The cat's nose completely cleared after 3 days, and has remained so for several weeks.
If it wasn't for online resources, like All About Cats and others, the 5 yo cat would still likely be suffering with his painful nose, but that shouldn't be the case, and I'd like to be confident in my vet's decisions, without researching it myself.
I'm wondering if I need a new vet, as my 11 yo male at home is needing a dental soon, and I'm questioning the reluctance to get a BP on a patient (are BPs uncommon?), or offer the SDMA test (is it only available to some vets, and not to others?), or recommend a cystocentesis with a known CRF patient (I keep learning what might have been available for my lost older female). I don't know if the abdominal mass could've/should've been found during her full physical, while under for a lion cut, or if they just grow that fast to take her life two months later... but I wonder...
Another thing that makes the decision difficult, is my vet is the only one who does the local TNR program spays/neuters, and offers low/no cost services to those in need (not me--I spend a small fortune there). The vet is a really good person... so, am I being unreasonable? Too picky? Are my concerns without merit?
Thanks, and sorry so long...