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EACH CLINIC SETS ITS OWN REQUIREMENTS

This letter may be too controversial to answer (publicly), but it did happen. When we got our new kitten last year, our local vets advised a series of physicals, vaccinations, leukemia testing and that he be checked for worms -- all prior to and required before he could be neutered. It made sense to us, and we did it.

We recently adopted an adult female cat. Our vets recommended that the same procedure be done before they would admit her to their hospital to be spayed.

Out of curiosity (comparison shopping), we called another clinic. They more or less said, "Just bring her in." No testing or vaccinations were required.

We're confused. Did the other clinic just want our business, knowing that we were local? Are we being ripped off with unneeded testing and vaccines? The veterinary profession is really sending a confusing message to the public if this occurs other places.

A -- Your confusion is understandable. The issues are the medical protocols, the timing of those protocols, and whether they should be required or not.

Physical examinations, leukemia and intestinal parasite testing and a vaccination series are appropriate for kittens and adult cats, although the protocols are dependent on the patient's age. Hence, you are not being "ripped off" by having them done.

You didn't say that the second hospital didn't recommend the procedures (or wouldn't have after you arrived), only that it didn't require the work to have been done before the adult cat was presented for spaying.

Purposes for getting the medical steps finished before the surgery are having time to get the testing done, spreading out the stress for the pet and lessening the likelihood of the cat picking up one of the preventable diseases while hospitalized.

The leukemia test can be run in minutes and can be performed the day of the surgery but before admittance to the hospital. For a cat that passes the physical examination with flying colors, time pressure on having the fecal test results is minimal.

Problems with a healthy pet being stressed too much by having both vaccinations and elective surgery are unlikely. Today, compared to years ago, the chances of a pet acquiring an infection while hospitalized are very low.

A clinic can require what it wants, and a client can follow those requirements or look elsewhere for service. To learn the specific reasons why your clinic has such requirements, ask them.

Gregory W. Gallagher, DVM
Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 403, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052-0403. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.

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