Monday, July 20, 2009

We're Havin' A Heat Wave, A Terrible Heat Wave......

Just a reminder during this very hot summer weather that our kitties need close attention to make sure they stay cool and safe.

If you have central AC, make sure your system is working well and can keep your home at 80F or less. Young, healthy cats can handle somewhat higher temps (mine at home don't wilt until it hits 88F), but elderly, sick, overweight, and stressed cats have a reduced ability to compensate for environmental issues such as extreme heat. If you have a window or wall unit, leave it on during the day so kitty has a cool spot to lay in front of it - I leave mine set at 84F, but it's very comfy and nice in that spot and I don't have to try (and fail miserably) to keep the entire place cool by running both units full blast.

Make sure your cats have clean, fresh water available at all times, and if they have increased needs due to kidney disease or diabetes, put an extra bowl down.

Don't leave your cat parked in your car alone for even a few minutes. If you have picked kitty up here or from the groomer, go straight home and then leave again to complete any necessary errands. Hot weather like we are having can kill very quickly.

For any cats who need to be in our hospital, rest assured we have excellent air conditioning, and the back of the hospital always stays nice and cool even if the waiting room gets a little warm. We have only had to clear out and close down due to power failure and AC loss once in 18 years (June 2008) and hope that never happens again!

Got drywall?

Don't everybody all fall over in a dead faint, but we now have drywall. Our long-stalled project to fix the hallway wall and insulate and replace the drywall has finally been completed. Well, except for primer and paint, which will happen eventually someday.

Given how very long it took to get this small project done, I am rethinking my plan to do the same in the waiting room and Room 1. Perhaps blown-in insulation will be a little easier and I can just DIY rather than trying to line up a contractor.

If any of my clients have experience with blown-in insulation, let me know and maybe we can work out a trade of some sort........

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

About Our Appointment Policy

Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic is what is known as a solo practice. That means that it is staffed by ONE veterinarian: that would be me, Dr. Gayle (what many clients prefer to call me). Though modern medicine has worked many seeming miracles, it has yet to successfully clone an adult human being. Because of this, there truly is only one "me" to examine, diagnose, and perform surgery on my patients. I am therefore forced to schedule appointments for office visits and medical/surgical procedures in an attempt to avoid complete pandemonium in my hospital.

On weekdays I generally see office visits in the morning, then I do medical/surgical procedures late morning, have lunch, and then see more appointments in the afternoon. Saturdays we only see office visits and do not schedule any procedures that would require sedation/anesthesia, because it is such a short day.

We have a large number of patients to divide our time amongst, so it should come as no shock that it is not always possible for you to get the exact time slot for your appointment, on the exact day that you want, particularly if you are calling and wanting your cat to be seen THIS VERY MINUTE for something that is clearly not a medical emergency. I am sometimes in surgery, or working on a sick patient, or already in an exam room with another client (who may have brought 3 or 4 cats in at once). I may even be eating lunch (gasp). It has never been, and will never be, our policy to "bump" a client who is on time simply because another client wants the same time slot. We do not "double book".

If you want to bring Kitty in at 9:30 AM this Tuesday and we tell you that the appointment is not available (usually because another client is already booked for that time), we ask for your patience and understanding as we try to find another suitable time slot. Most importantly, we ask that you treat us the way you would wish to be treated: that is, by refraining from cursing and temper tantrums. This won't be difficult for the vast majority of our clients, so my comments are primarily directed toward prospective clients and that tiny minority of existing clients who apparently does not understand office etiquette.

Of course, if you believe your cat has a legitimate medical emergency, we will be more than happy to fit you into our schedule immediately, though it is best to call us first to make sure that I am actually physically available (and not out of the office, home sick, in surgery, or already treating another emergency).

We ask that you make every effort to be on time for your appointment so as to avoid inconveniencing the next client, and please bring your cat in a carrier for everyone's safety. If you need to cancel or reschedule, please give us as much advance notice as possible. Last minute cancellations usually result in dead time because of our inability to fill the time slot on extremely short notice, and that raises everyone's cost of care. And no-shows are, of course, not a way to cultivate a good doctor-client relationship.

There has been an unfortunate trend over the last decade or so for some people to treat veterinarians more like fast food employees than highly skilled medical professionals. Heck, some might say that it's unprofessional for me to even broach the subject, but it needs to be said: it's medical care, not a Happy Meal, and no, we don't have a drive-through window.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Internets are Amazing Things

I got a phone call first thing this morning from a Northern California county public health department employee. He had been web surfing, looking for information on feline rabies control laws and found my blog and decided to enlist my help.

He was looking for a site that listed information from all 50 states and whether or not they had a statewide feline rabies vaccination requirement. After I searched for about an hour I actually found one such site. So I emailed the information to him, and hope it helps him.

Our conversation, not surprisingly, was somewhat along these lines:
HIM: I can't believe every state in the union doesn't require rabies vaccination in cats.
ME: Tell me about it. I just don't get it. Pure foolishness.
HIM: Yeah. Sigh.
ME: Do you have rabid bats up there? We sure have a lot down here.
HIM: Yeah, lots of rabid bats.

This whole thing came at an odd time, because just yesterday we had in the hospital a cat that got exposed to a bat a couple of years ago and had to be quarantined for 6 months. It had never been vaccinated against rabies, and found a bat on the owner's balcony and brought it into the house, but then the bat escaped and could not be tested. The owners don't want any MORE quarantines, so now they keep Kitty up on his vaccinations.

We seem to have to fight the same battles against ignorance and misinformation year after year after year. At one time, I naively expected the internet to magically make every citizen an informed citizen, and preventable diseases would be a thing of the past. Sadly, you can still lead a horse to water and yet still can't make him drink.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of rabies cases reported in cats is routinely 3-4 times as that of rabies reported in cattle or dogs. Both CDC and the World Health Organization strongly recommend vaccinating ALL cats against rabies, regardless of their lifestyle (in only vs in/out). Southern California has a significant ongoing problem with endemic rabies in the local bats, and cats are highly susceptible to bites from "downer" bats due to their curious nature and predatory/play behavior. And yet the City of Los Angeles and the State of California do not see fit to pass legislation that would require protection of the public's health by vaccinating all cats against rabies. They would rather try to pass laws that would tax my profession out of business, I suppose.

Clients often ask me why all the fuss about rabies. Clearly our celebrity-obsessed, fashion-conscious, reality-tv-addicted society has lost its collective memory of the human horrors of this disease. But I for one will never forget. I have been exposed to rabies just once, in 1987, and count myself lucky to be telling of it, along with the 21 others who also did not die. And the families of the 25-30,000 people who do die of this disease EVERY YEAR in India alone will of course not forget.

I got that last statistic off the internets. The truth is out there, just waiting to be noticed. I told you it was amazing.