Just Got to Vent About Our Vet(rinarian)

By Karen

I won’t name them, but CW cats and this veterinary practice go back to the 1990s (with one prolonged breakup midway until our defection practice began going downhill). We have seen at least two generations of these vets.

They made life hell during the late Cole’s kidney failure, needlessly costing me hundreds of dollars on prescriptions by limiting the sources to their extortionately priced selves (like $5 a pill vs. 30 pills for $10 online) or one pricey online pharmacy they “partner” with (i.e., probably skim a cut from).

I fought the drug price battle until Cole’s last breath, and recall one day driving to their office THREE times because their dumb-as-doorknobs staff was incapable of producing a correct written prescription and refused to fax it anywhere. I had to snail-mail it to my supplier while the clock ticked down on Cole’s waning life. Their blithe obstruction would have made Mitch McConnell proud.

After Cole died, I went full Karen on the practice administrator over their failure to cooperate. But nothing has changed. The pandemic made it worse. Much worse.

Cole’s prescription issues resurfaced with Adele’s subsequent kidney failure battle, although they did allow me to use Sam’s Club, right down the street. Since they knew I could — and would — drive over and raise hell within minutes of any prescription screwup, that went smoother, although it still cost me much more than it should have.

What I’ll never forget about their treatment of Adele was that they were in a new building (the same move that doomed the alternate practice I mentioned in the opening), and it had a special area for euthanasia. On Adele’s last day alive, they told me to call from the parking lot so we could arrive through a private entrance.

I called, and got a recording that they’d gone to lunch and to call back in a few hours.

THEY had set the appointment to kill one of their patients and just FORGOT it?

So, Adele’s last trip was right past the dogs in their damn lobby.

Max, Roc and Tony haven’t had major issues, so our contacts have been mercifully infrequent.

However, the practice does periodically annoy me with their comical mass emails. They call us “Family” and share new policies to inconvenience us from the tone-deaf perspective that our primary concern is the happiness, safety and well-being of their staff. (Examples on request.)

So, yesterday I took Roc in for his annual checkup, this year a mere courtesy call because he’s fine and doesn’t need any shots.

They let me choose sitting out in the parking lot or accompanying him. I chose the latter. I was double-masked; the vet wore only a blue paper mask, like the one I had on under my triple-ply cloth mask.

As their policy dictates, I sat across the exam room while Roc rested calmly, facing away from me, in his carrier on the exam table, which was inexplicably retracted so it only fit the carrier and the scale.

Full length requires too much extra wiping down between patients perhaps?

Turns out their new “procedure” is to dismantle the carrier, which looks like this, with seven fasteners…

Roc is a most congenial cat and has ridden drama-free in this carrier since he was a kitten. I told the vet to tip it slightly and he’d walk right out. She ignored me, mumbling about “an article saying this is better” — because she knows Roc SO well.

Roc, for the first time ever, felt his safe place taken apart by strangers. Think it bothered him?

Well, when I took out the carrier today for the photo, I set it down beside Roc and he bolted. So, thanks a lot, Vet, for Roc’s new carrier phobia.

During his exam, Roc stood like a thoroughbred while the vet and her assistant pawed him from head to toe. The vet said a cat earlier had put up a fuss.

MY cat didn’t. He was a pro. But you treated him like he was a problem.

Bottom line: These few stories I’ve shared just scratch the surface. We need a new vet.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Ready for some Cats Working Christmas videos? Their big surprises this year (which Tony almost sniffed out prematurely as I was charging them in the bathroom) were Floppy Fish!

Tony and Roc were immediately intrigued (you’ll see Roc’s tail go by when he loses interest)…

Then Tony decided to show Floppy who’s boss while Max looked on…

Roc’s attack strategy is total domination…

Max didn’t quite know what to make of them and seemed more interested in the rest of Christmas (you get to see everyone in their celebratory mess)…

Tony and Roc enjoyed their annual viewing of Video Catnip, and here’s just a snippet. It’s 25 minutes long and they watched it TWICE…

Here’s the gang relaxing after toys, treats, and ‘nip…

BONUS: Tony watched the snow fall in the backyard last week from the Man Cave window…

28 Responses to Just Got to Vent About Our Vet(rinarian)

  1. Donna says:

    Karen you should name them. What absolute shits they are for the way they’ve treated you and the Cats. Poor Adele

  2. catsworking says:

    Donna, I don’t want their lawyer coming after me because they’re deluded enough to go there. Last night I didn’t get to sleep until 3:30 a.m. and I kept going back to a slow burn over those stupid women unscrewing Roc’s carrier while he was inside it, not knowing what was going on and not able to see me because the back of the carrier was facing me.

    Having to go through their BS red tape when I took Adele to be put to sleep just made that whole thing worse, although Adele did go very easily and peacefully. They have a room with a sofa in it, and the vet was very kind. That room has a door directly to the parking lot (the private entrance, I suppose), with this little gated brick wall alcove in front of the door where I guess people can sit and collect themselves. When I got out there, I couldn’t figure out the latch on the gate, and I think the door may have been one way (no outside doorknob so people don’t wander in by mistake) and thinking, “Oh, shit, now I’m trapped in this fucking place and they have no idea I’m out here!”

    But I finally got the gate open and left. I should have dumped these turkeys after Cole.

    The first time I left the practice, it was after they advised me to have my 6-year-old tuxedo named Ginger put to sleep because she had kidney failure. Ginger recovered and lived another two quality years with no medical intervention at all. When she finally went downhill, it was fast.

  3. Bonnie C. says:

    I saw those “floppy fish” & wondered how our two cats would respond to them. Since we recently adopted a rescue puppy a few months ago, cat toys now have to be of a certain size to be safe in case she gets a hold of them, so no more tiny little balls or mice.

  4. catsworking says:

    A puppy would probably love a floppy fish. As you can see, they’re quite large, and they have a packet of catnip inside but, admittedly, it doesn’t seem very potent.

    I still have to be careful with Tony because he’ll eat anything. The other day it was a clear plastic tube in a loop, about 5-6″ long. It might have been a fastener for a luggage tag. Seemed safe. Tony was throwing it around and not chewing it. Well, later I found just a remnant of it and can only assume he ate the rest of it. I’m watching his poop to see if it comes out.

  5. Cindy says:

    I had an even more awful experience with an ex-vet. While the vet was prepping my Molly prior to putting her to sleep, I went to the cashier to pay. The twit filled out the treatment codes and put it in the computer. I paid and she gave me the receipt and, with her biggest smile, told me to have a great day!

    That was the last time they ever saw me.

  6. Bonnie C. says:

    Oh goodness – that’s awful!!! I’ve been lucky enough to have had the most wonderful vet practice on the planet for 20+ years. They’ve seen many of our pets come & go, & when it’s time, they allow us ample time to say goodbye, & since we bury all our pets here on the farm, our pets are given back to us in compostable body bags, & most recently we’re also provided with a plaster cast of our pet’s pawprint to either keep or bury with them. They also NEVER ask us to pay at the time – we receive a bill & a condolence card at a later date.

  7. Pat says:

    YOW, Karen! You and the kitties need a new vet. Period.

  8. catsworking says:

    Cindy, that is cold. Sounds like they hired their front desk from the same pool of dimwits at my practice. When I’ve had a cat put to sleep, they have billed me later.

    When my cat Rex died of kidney failure in my house while I was away on vacation, my father (who was feeding them) brought Rex’s body to the vet for the cremation (I had given the vet a letter stating what to do in my absence), when I got home and went to pay them, I burst into tears at the counter. If I hadn’t gone away (for two weeks — my boyfriend insisted on that — I only wanted to go for one because I knew Rex was near the end — I’ll never forgive myself for that), I would have been there to take Rex in and be with him rather than just let him die home on his own in the corner behind the TV, like my father did.

    Adele was only about two years old at the time, and I think it was pretty traumatic for her. Fred and Yul were there as well, and they were all acting spooked when I got home.

  9. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I always have my cats cremated and don’t get the ashes back because I can’t deal with it. I’ve been asked a few times if I wanted a “pawprint” and must say it totally disgusted me. My cat’s about to die and they want to stick her paw in plaster? WTF?

    But I can see how it could be done more tastefully and be a nice remembrance. I’m sure there’s probably still cat hair from all 11 cats I’ve had in adulthood, because they ALL lived in this house.

  10. Bonnie C. says:

    They take the paw print after death, & it’s presented very tastefully in a leatherette sleeve.

  11. catsworking says:

    Pat,

    I’m going to start reading reviews and putting out feelers. It’s time. Dismantling the carrier was a silly little thing, but the last straw for me when the vet totally blew me off when I told her Roc would cooperate. These guys have jumped the shark.

    Cute story. One of the cheery emails they sent out was about an emergency vet practice that had closed its doors. As a result, they said they would be happy to step in and accommodate pets who needed same-day attention — and would charge more for it.

    Always good to know your pet comes first with them — if you’ve got deep enough pockets.

  12. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, that sounds nice, and I’m sure it’s something you must treasure.

    The way it was presented to me, I was sitting there about to watch Adele die, and they were pitching it like some last-minute DIY project. I was pretty horrified at the bad taste and lack of tact. But that’s how these guys roll.

  13. Bonnie C. says:

    Our vet doesn’t charge for it, & they just ask if it’s something we’d like.

  14. Donna says:

    When I had Zappa put to sleep,the vet had all of his interns attend. He sent me a very heartfelt condolence card that I still have all these years later

  15. catsworking says:

    Oh, Donna, we remember when you lost Zappa! So glad your vet was compassionate. We know how much you loved Zappa. We still miss him, even though the crew here has totally changed over. Karen totally remembers him.

    Some time after Adele died, we got a note from the University of Virginia, and immediately feared that instead of having her body cremated, the vet had donated her to science, but they said the vet made made a donation of money in her memory. We still don’t believe it.

    To this day, with all their greedy profiteering in every other aspect of the practice, we have no idea what they’re really doing once the pet’s body is out of the owner’s control. They could be selling them to Purina for all we know., Wouldn’t put it past them.

    There is so much black water under the bridge at this point that we need to line up a new vet before the next checkup is due (which would be Tony).

  16. Cindy says:

    Our first cat died while we were still living in Texas. Our vet made a donation to Morris Animal Foundation in his memory. We have had good (and bad) vets since, but none have ever come close to him.

  17. catsworking says:

    Cindy, I’ve had several great vets over the years, just none of them ever worked at this practice. They also give the impression that their main focus is dogs. There certainly seem to be many more dog patients than cats, too.

    I once had a vet who told me that if he could choose, he would only work with cats. Unfortunately, he was the vet who was slipping into retirement at the alternate practice I was using and the whole place went to hell.

    There is one cats-only practice in Richmond, but it’s on the other side of town. I may give them another look, anyway.

  18. bassgirl23 says:

    Happy new year Karen! Love the videos. Ours ignore the floppy fish completely when it’s activated (they give it a puzzled / half interested look and give it a wide berth). We did find out that Wall-E snuggles with it and uses it as a pillow if it’s turned off, so that’s how it’s ended up in his bed!

    So sorry about your vet troubles. When there’s that many red flags and incidents it’s definitely time to start shopping around.

    With our vet, we questioned the need for the hideously expensive dry urinary food they insisted on pushing on us after Wall-E’s bladder was blocked (due to crystals). He hated it, and kept throwing it up.

    The vet couldn’t tell me why or how the RX food worked, so I went online and found the ingredients – they’re basically crap, and the only active ingredient that isn’t their regular food formula is L-methionine, which changes the urinary PH levels.

    I found the correct dosage, ordered the pills online (dirt cheap), and although the vet was really hesitant, she said I could try adding it to his food as long as I monitored his urine ph daily to make sure it didn’t get too low again (now that was a fun 2 weeks, lol). I also decided to switch him to raw food rather than dry. I said if it didn’t work within the 2 weeks, I would 100% follow their advice instead.

    That was over 2 years ago, and he’s not had a problem since. I think the clinics focus too much on profit. Just like how the pharmaceutical reps push their latest and greatest pills on doctors, vets are basically sponsored by these huge companies which don’t have the animals’ best interests at heart. And while they may be fantastic doctors, they don’t always know how to run a business and deal with the human side of things.

    Good luck with your search! Hope you find a better office.

  19. catsworking says:

    bassgirl, the Floppy Fish have become members of the family. They get played with every day by someone. Roc and Tony like toys that move and make noise. Max as well, when he’s in the mood to be playful.

    I hear you about the food. I’ve been there with vets, too. The prescription foods are mostly hype, IMO, as you found out. My current vet once gave me some big song and dance about how grain-free foods aren’t really good for cats (I think hoping to steer me to Rx food she was probably pushing that day), and then she gave me an article to back herself up that was all about dog nutrition. WTF?

    Another time I fell for it for a few months with Adele and some canned Rx food that was like $2+ a can. She’d eat maybe one can, then run screaming from the room as soon as she saw me pop open another one.

    I’ve got a couple of practices in mind that I need to do some homework on, and probably stop by to feel them out. You’re right, this practice has been waving red flags in my face for years. Their prices went up with their new building, as they always do. But the new space did nothing for their professionalism.

  20. Bonnie C. says:

    Actually, it’s true that grain-free foods aren’t good/healthy for cats or dogs, so long as they’re not at the top of the ingredients list. In fact, grain-free foods have been scientifically implicated in more than a few dog deaths. Animals DO need a certain amount of healthy grains in their diet unless they are specifically allergic to them.

    Don’t take my word for it. Look it up.

  21. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I can’t speak for dogs. I just know an article about dog nutrition didn’t impress me because they have different needs than cats.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a truly grain-free dry food because it would go rancid quickly. I just looked at one of our bags of food (ocean whitefish) and it’s got pea protein and sweet potatoes in it. Some of them have brown rice.

    Back in the day, cheap dry cat food was MOSTLY grains/carbs (less protein and fat) and I believe those led to obesity and kidney failure because cats are obligate carnivores. It was like feeding them a diet of cookies.

    Canned food is grain-free, except some have rice. Some of the allergy canned foods have pea protein. Adele really hated duck and pea.

    Out in the wild, cats eat a little grass if they get nauseated, but they don’t seek out and chow down on wheat and oats, which is what’s been used in dry food as cheap filler, not necessarily for nutrition.

    When Roc was younger and eating almost nothing but canned food, he was maintaining a svelte figure. As soon as he developed a taste for the (not quite) “grain-free” dry food, he started putting on pounds. That’s why I don’t worry that they’re not getting enough grains. They’re in all dry cat food, no matter what the labeling says.

  22. Bonnie C. says:

    To each his own.

  23. feijicha says:

    As my vet once said, “of course the cats love the grain stuff, it’s like Fritos is to us” We had fabulous vets at the practice we finally settled on, but something is up as all the good docs have left, one by one after the other, and the ones who have replaced them are…. meh. All the good staff have left too, especially since COVID. Something is up with the vet who owns it obviously because he’s losing his best people. It sucks because they are minutes from my house. When the first of my tribe of 5 died, they came to the house to administer the lethal dose. The vet and a tech came, and they tech had put on a nice shirt and tie (they wear scrubs in the practice). It was really good. When the next one died, it was during COVID and I insisted I had to be with him (my commitment when I get each one is that I will be with them until literally their last breath. I hate it but I owe it to them). At that point for regular appointments they would come to your car, take the cat in their carrier inside, you would have to stay in your car but they would have you on the phone all the while that they did the exam, telling you what they were doing etc. So after some back and forth about whether lethal meds could be taken out of the clinic) but when they realized how firm I was about being with him, one of the vets (not our regular) agreed to come outside and administer the meds in the car in the parking lot. We took the top half off the carrier, and they gave the first then eventually second shot with me and my husband sitting on the backseat beside him, petting him and talking to him (and crying like a baby) until he passed and then they carried him inside.

    When my most beloved, absolute love of my life cat died, I got stuck with one of the wankers and I have never, ever forgiven myself. It was so much shittier than he deserved. And they have gone downhill ever since. Totally automated phone system like those horrible call centers where they clearly don’t ever want to have to talk to you… way limited hours now including almost no weekends; pushing crap rx food… They suck. But it’s such a short, close, easy drive of like 3 or 4 miles and we’ve been going there forever. UGH.

    All have been cremated, because I hate the idea that if/when we eventually move, they’re on property I won’t have access to any more. My deal is when I die, their ashes all get put with me either in the box if I’m buried or their ashes mixed with my ashes if I end up getting cremated.

  24. catsworking says:

    feijicha, your experience with your practice sounds like what happened with the practice I had defected to. I’d have stayed with them forever, but the last founding vet, who was our vet, was pulling out and spending less and less time. They were hiring a lot of young vets who weren’t very good, and the assistants and front desk were all leaving.

    One of the staff was my petsitter at the time, and she told me enough horror stories about that place that I decided to return to the current practice, since ITS two founders had retired and it was a new bunch. Sadly, same situation.

    I think you can tell a good vet by how they handle a euthanasia. It sounds like yours went above and beyond, which you never forget.

    When my vet was doing curbside service only, they’d take the cat inside, do their thing, then call and tell me how it went. I wish I could say I trusted them to do a thorough exam, but I didn’t.

    One of the reasons I choose cremation is leaving them behind whenever I move. I have a cat and quite a few guinea pigs buried in three yards of houses that belonged to my parents, and every time I go anywhere near them, I think of my little friends and hope their graves are safe.

  25. Bonnie C. says:

    “When my vet was doing curbside service only, they’d take the cat inside, do their thing, then call and tell me how it went.”

    Our vets also just have curbside service since the pandemic began, but they draw the line at euthanasia. For that you go in (masked, of course) with your pet & are with them through the entire procedure. Then for us, since all of our pets are buried here on the farm, they bring our pet out to the car in an ultimately compostable body bag, along with the paw-print cast.

    Even if we couldn’t do it that way, I trust the staff there completely. Know most of them personally, & most have been there for 25+ years. Very compassionate & competent bunch.

  26. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, your vet sounds wonderful and caring.

    When my vet presented me with the paw-print option, I took it as a last-ditch effort with wring another buck out of a patient on her way out and I was pretty horrified. If they did it out of my sight and presented it to me at no charge, I might feel differently. I don’t know.

    I did remove Adele’s hot pink rhinestone collar after she was gone and keep it in my jewelry box, along with Cole’s last collar.

    I don’t get the ashes back after my cats are cremated, so I don’t know what happens to them. At that point, I feel like the spirit is gone, and I don’t want to force it to linger by holding on to the ashes. (The house seems haunted enough by cats without any help from me!)

    I really do want to find a vet I can trust again before any of the cats has a crisis, because I know I will go totally postal on this bunch if they cross me again.

  27. Bonnie C. says:

    “I don’t get the ashes back after my cats are cremated, so I don’t know what happens to them.”

    The only pet I had cremated & retained the ashes was our first Doberman, who was truly my “heart” dog. We were inseparable, & I still get pangs just thinking about her. We had to bring the body ourselves to a private pet crematorium, who were very nice, & a friend of mine who was into woodworking made us a beautiful hand-carved & finished wood box to store the ashes in so she’ll be with us always.

  28. catsworking says:

    My sister has one of her cats in a little ceramic urn and wants to be cremated with them. Her current cats like to knock the urn over.

    The only thing I keep are collars.

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