As in most things, all vets are not created equal. Some spend lots of time reading up on the latest information and new techniques. Others don't. Some still treat cats as if they were little dogs, but cats and dogs are very different, with different needs, diseases and treatments. Instead of following the latest vaccination protocols, some vets just do things the way they always have. Here are some hints I hope will help you get what you and your cat need from your vet.
1.I once took a cat to a new vet, who came highly recommended by a close breeder friend. This was a new cat, so I wanted a test for FELV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline aids). She took the test, it was negative. Next thing I know the technician has a syringe in his hand and starts to give my cat some kind of shot - it was the vaccine for FELV. Now you know from your contract that I don't believe in this vaccine - in fact, giving this vaccine (or the FIP vaccine) voids the health guarantee in the contract. Luckily I stopped it in time, and later had a note put in my chart that absolutely nothing was to be given to my cat without my express consent. In addition, they were going to inject the vaccine into the scruff of the neck. This is common for the 3-way vaccine (calici, rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia), but the FELV should go in the left rear leg (rabies goes in the right rear leg). The reason for this is that both these vaccines are known to cause injection site sarcomas, which are a deadly form of cancer. If given in the leg and a sarcoma develops, the leg can be removed if that's the only way to get rid of the cancer. Unfortunately, that can't be done when vaccines are given on the torso.
2.Some vets will take your cat to their back room to perform a test or procedure. In my case I was lucky that didn't happen, or my cat could have had the leukemia vaccine and I wouldn't know it until I saw the bill. Make sure your vet knows you don't like surprises
Vets are not like medical doctors - they don't always discuss your options with you. Some vets will simply do the standard procedures/vaccines and assume that is what you want. Unfortunately, every vet does things a little differently, so you can't know what the standard is for that office unless someone tells you. So it's best to let your vet know you want to be consulted about everything. Ok, off my soapbox!!!
3.Some conditions in the cat require immediate medical attention. If your cat has any of the following symptoms, please see your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY, as they can be life-threatening: acute swelling, bleeding, choking, difficulty breathing, seizures, convulsions, electric shock, high fever or difficulty urinating. And obviously if your cat ingests poison, gets hit by a car, falls out of a window, is found unconscious, or breaks a bone, immediate veterinary attention is required. Repeated vomiting or projectile vomiting also require immediate attention. Even if this means finding an emergency vet in the middle of the night, do it, your cat's life may depend on it.
4.Cats are very good at hiding their illnesses. Some things an alert owner will notice without really trying. Things to watch for are changes in eating habits, changes in behavior, inappropriate elimination, diarrhea, lethargy, hiding. These may signal your cat doesn't feel well. Watch him closely and if he doesn't act normally within a day or so, take him to your vet. Usually you can tell when your little buddy doesn't feel up to snuff.
5.Some Somalis are prone to gingivitis. Take a look at your cat's gums. Unless he is a teething kitten, his gums should be firm and pink. Sometimes there will be a darker pink line on the gum at the tooth edge. That's gingivitis. To avoid it, you can start brushing their teeth when they are very young. Every year when you take your cat in for its yearly vet exam, have the vet examine the teeth. If there is gingivitis or heavy tarter buildup (you can see that as well, it looks like dirty teeth), have the vet clean the cat's teeth. This is usually done under general anesthesia, which is covered next. Keeping your pet's teeth clean is very important, as bacteria can form in the mouth and travel into other areas of the body, contributing to a variety of infections and diseases.
6.Some people say Somalis are sensitive to anesthesia. That could just be rumor, but to be safe I always ask for two things when my cats will be under anesthesia. First, I ask the vet to use isofluorane gas only, and not to use ketamine or other injectable drugs as well. Second, I go with the technician or whoever takes the cat from me when they weigh the cat, to make sure they get an accurate weight. Somalis can appear heavier than they actually are because of all that coat - an accurate weight is important to make sure the correct amount of anesthetic is used for the size of the cat. One interesting point is that for a few years I was asking my vet for isofluorane gas only, for every cat I had spayed/neutered or any other procedures - even though I had to pay extra. Now my vet's standard procedure is isofluorane only, and he no longer charges extra. Seems he noticed how much more quickly the cats were waking up after surgery and decided to make the switch!
When transporting your cat to the vet or any other place in the car, always use a hard-sided carrier. Should you have to stop suddenly and the cat is not confined, the stop can catapult her through the windshield. If there is an accident, she can be easily crushed, or get out and run away if a door or window should open. And if there is an accident, the carrier will protect the cat from either injury or getting loose and running off while you are injured or busy dealing with the problems of the accident.
To take your pet with you on an airplane, you can either keep the cat with you in the cabin, or place it in the luggage compartment. Either way, there are limits to the number of pets allowed on each flight.. For in-cabin, you need an airline approved soft-sided carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you, so make sure you are assigned a seat that has a seat in front of it!! Never put a cat in the overhead bin, as other passenger's stuff can crush it, and there is no airflow there and the cat will suffocate. To take your cat as baggage, you need an airline approved hard-sided carrier, large enough for him to stand up and turn around. Contact the airline you will be traveling on for more specific information. Some airlines, such as Southwest, do not accept pets at all.
Pets can also be shipped, but I don't recommend this. I don't ship my own cats and kittens, I would be in a panic the whole time wondering if they made the connection, got left outside in the heat, etc. The airlines have rules to prevent these occurrences, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Amtrak trains do not accept pets. I don't know if busses accept them or not.
And one more thing - never leave your pet in a car during the day, especially in summer. The heat can cause heat exhaustion very quickly, and your pet will likely die if left for any length of time. Even opening the windows isn't sufficient. Be careful in the summer.