WARNING: This is a very rant-y post!
I just got back from my cat’s annual appointment with the vet for her shots, check-up, etc. The practice that I go to has multiple vets, and this was the first time I’ve ever had an appointment with this particular doctor. And it was miserable/degrading/infuriating from start to finish.
I live in an 8th floor apartment with windows that don’t open, so my cat’s individual health needs differ from cats that are permitted to go outdoors. For example, there is no way that my cat could ever be exposed to parasites because she only drinks filtered water that I give her. So I opt out of the $50 fecal analysis test that they always try to push on me. So, of course, the first thing this vet says to me after she introduces herself is that I should really consider bringing back a poop sample to be analyzed. I politely declined, so the vet felt free to list every other service my cat “needs,” including:
– An ear cleaning ($33)
– Nail clipping ($16)
– Teeth cleaning ($1200)
– Bloodwork to test for heartworm, which is incurable in cats anyway ($90)
I politely declined everything except the bloodwork. She guilted me into that because it includes a few different tests that I’m still very skeptical are really necessary, but whatever. So she takes my poor cat back to get her rabies shot and her blood drawn and I wait. And wait. And wait. Like how long does this take??
When she finally comes back in she announces that the shot was administered and the bloodwork was done, but she broke my cat’s collar. “Oops, I apologize” is what she said. Okay. Thanks a lot. Another expense. So then she launches into this whole diatribe about how the cat is overweight, and if I don’t act quickly she’s going to get diabetes, and I need to totally re-assess her diet, etc., etc., etc. Which is totally true. My cat is overweight, I was very ready to have a conversation with the vet about that. But she was making a federal case about it, and was talking to me like I’m an idiot. She actually started to explain what carbohydrates and protein are, when I finally cut her off and explained that I have a pretty good understanding of nutrition, I just needed her to get to the bottom line of what I should be doing about the cat’s weight problem. And this is when I started to get pretty pissed off. Because I knew what was coming next, and boy was I right:
“Well, we sell this prescription food that will really work wonders.”
So first, this woman is being pretty condescending. I know that my cat is overweight, but guess what? According to the literature I read in the waiting room, so are almost 50% of cats in America today. It’s not like I’m some sort of demon cat owner. My cat is like most other cats: lazy. And sleepy. And, therefore, chunky. I understand that this vet was trying to drive the importance of her losing weight home to me, but she was taking advantage of the situation and trying to guilt me into buying something. Again. But this time, I wasn’t taking it. I happened to work at a speciality pet food store for two years when I was in high school where I got a lot of solid information from veterinarians who weren’t peddling their own products and actually cared about animal health, so I replied:
“Well, that’s not really an option. Your prescription foods are made by Hill’s and contain additives that I just don’t want my pet exposed to. Do you have any other recommendations?”
She was totally taken aback, and that’s when we really got into a battle of the wills. I know I probably got a little too defensive, but I was not going to let Dr. Condescending bully me into buying something (from her!) that I know is bad for my cat. She was really snippy for the rest of the appointment, and insisted that because this situation was so dire prescription was the way to go. Again, I declined, paid my bill, and left in a huff with my cat and her broken collar.
The thing is, being a responsible pet owner is expensive enough without some charlatan trying to sell you something at every turn. And also, almost 10% of the American population is currently unemployed. A lot of people are struggling to pay for their own healthcare and groceries. It was really, really insensitive of her to be pushing all of these services and products on me – or anyone – when she has no idea what kind of financial situation pet owners are in. She should have been honest about what was really necessary, and given me the guilt-free option for extras.
So, I’m definitely finding a new vet. I’m not going through that again. I shouldn’t have to walk into the vet’s office ready to do battle against pushy sales people, I should be walking in ready to have an honest conversation about my cat’s health.