recs for vets accessible by public transport?
September 30, 2014 12:09 AM   Subscribe

So I am about to adopt my first cat (specifically this one, yay Mefi!). I'm looking for a vet for regular wellness checks in my area (Emeryville, CA, near Ashby Bart) - the catch is that I'm reliant on public transport, and I don't have a ton of money. Suggestions?

The one that would normally be the most convenient to me is the Berkeley Human Society, since it's on the same bus line as I am (72), but it's currently not taking in any new appointments. The VCA is not too far and offers free pet first-exams but they have really polarized reviews on Yelp. The East Bay SPCA is a little further out, but may be doable.

The cat will be fixed and have a basic check before s/he comes to me, but I'm not sure what to do from here on out. Do I claim one of the free pet exams and do another check? How do I find a vet that works with my transport situation? I understand that medical care for animals doesn't come cheap; I'm more concerned about having to travel hours to get to a vet when necessary.

(Also any tips for a first-time cat butler would be super helpful!!)
posted by divabat to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Vet visits with cats are pretty rare especially if kitty doesn't go outside. My cats only go every few years until they're much older. Can do you a cab, Uber, car2go, or zip car for a rare vet trip?
posted by k8t at 12:46 AM on September 30, 2014

I take my two cats to Campus Veterinary Clinic once every couple years, although they went twice this time since their teeth were badly in need of a cleaning. The F and 51b stop a couple blocks away. I like the staff, and usually see Dr. Yen; some Yelp reviewers claim that he's cold but I haven't found that to be the case (I'd say he's cool and collected, which is reassuring to me, but there are other vets at that office if you think that would rub you the wrong way).

On the other side of town, but much closer to a 51b stop, is Claremont Veterinary Hospital. I took my cats there once, about 4 years ago, but can't actually remember anything about it.

A note on transporting cats: I have no problems herding them into their carriers, but once I pick them up, they howl non-stop until we get to the vet! I always give them treats but they're usually too upset to eat them.

Good luck with your new kitty!
posted by kiripin at 1:29 AM on September 30, 2014

Consider coming along for the last vet visit with old-owner. I understand there are no trust issues, so it's not a control thing, but a) it will be easier for you to travel alone, b) you will feel like the cat's care is up to date, c) you will get the scoop about kitty directly from the vet (ears clean? teeth okay? nails clipped?- there are some small things worth being checked regularly in healthy cats), and d) you can ask the vet for recommendations regarding a new clinic in your area.

At least for all of my cats, vet visits are not exactly fun. So combining your first visit with that last one of old-owner would be good for kitty on the stress front. Then you'll have some additional time to find a vet in your area, provided the current vet is happy with kitty's health.

Now onto the public transport issue. I have done it and it can be tricky. Back then I had one of those tough plastic boxes and my arms got really tired, so the trip was not as smooth as I would have liked for my poor sick cat. I recently discovered a pet carrier backpack (a cat was transported in it by the cyclist in front of me!) and I'm set to get one. I believe it will be much easier to handle on public transport than one of the traditional box-style carriers. The one I linked is not exactly the same I've encountered in the wild, but it's a close match. It's a backpack-trolley hybrid, I've seen them on ebay.

Hooray for your first cat! You'll love having a feline friend!
posted by travelwithcats at 4:11 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

A regular wellness check would be once a year, max, for annual boosters, oral exam and overall checkup.

The cat will be fixed and have a basic check before s/he comes to me, but I'm not sure what to do from here on out.

If the cat arrives vaccinated, then do nothing for another year. If the cat does not arrive vaccinated, take it to be vaccinated and then do nothing for another year. My preference would be to ask the current owners to make sure the cat is vaccinated on the already-scheduled vet trip and to offer to pay for that if necessary. It will save you this headache for a while, all going well. (And get the vaccination card!)

Realistically, with a young cat in good health who has completed initial inoculations, you are talking about either very occasional routine vet visits, or the exceedingly rare unexpected emergency vet visits. We have a dog and no car, and we use a taxi service or ask friends to give us lifts when we need to visit our chosen vet. Is that an option?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:48 AM on September 30, 2014

I can't make a local recommendation for you, but fwiw our vet makes house calls. It's really great because it's much less stressful for our cat. You might check to see if something like that is available.
posted by primethyme at 7:08 AM on September 30, 2014

BarkCare will come to you, and despite the name, they do cats too. They are affiliated with VCA and Pets Unlimited in SF, if that helps.

They say:

A Standard House Call is $99 and consists of a preventative wellness visit and basic check up.

A House Call Plus is $199 and includes any vaccines, blood work, fecal analysis, or any other diagnostic exams our vets perform. No upcharges, no gray areas. Everything for $199
posted by vickyverky at 8:32 AM on September 30, 2014

It sounds like you're doing everything right, and the kitty will be checked out before she comes to you. If she's going to be an indoor cat from now on, you probably don't have much to worry about.

But do make sure they check her teeth and gums in case she has anything going on from her time on the street -- tooth pain can put cats off their food and cause mouth infections that get expensive very quickly.
posted by vickyverky at 8:34 AM on September 30, 2014

Response by poster: Unfortunately I have work the day of the vet appointment :(

Taxis and Uber are totally an option, thanks so much!
posted by divabat at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2014

Make sure the vet checks the cat's teeth. My shelter cats came to me neutered and vaccinated but not having had their teeth checked, and that led to problems down the line that might have been avoided earlier on.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2014

Also any tips for a first-time cat butler would be super helpful!!

Start watching My Cat From Hell - I grew up in a house with cats, and got my own cats after I moved out, but I still learned some useful things from show host Jackson Galaxy.

As far as how frequently you'll actually need to go to the vet, it really varies depending on the cat. Once a new cat is settled in, you learn their baseline personality and energy level, and what their Achilles heel is, health wise. My current cat throws up more often than any cat I've had previously, but the vet exams didn't turn up any specific diagnosis like a food allergy, and she's generally fine afterwards (doesn't lose her appetite or show other behavioral changes), so, her vomit isn't going to send me running to the vet. Whereas, with one of my previous cats, he was clearly in a lot of pain whenever he threw up (he was normally pretty quiet but would yowl loudly before puking; and after he'd puked up his food, he'd just keep puking until he was puking bloody saliva). So, with him, I'd know from that first pained yowl that we were going to the vet asap.

If your new cat is basically healthy, I would say you can expect to go to the vet most often in that first year, for the wellness checks & shots, and while you're learning how they show distress. If they don't have any chronic health problems, the visits will get less frequent (until they get old and start having senior health issues, of course).
posted by oh yeah! at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2014

I know Shattuck VCA has mixed reviews, but we've been happy with them for several years (our previous dog and rabbit, and current dog have gone there). It might be worth trying them out- it's really nice to have a close vet.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:23 PM on October 1, 2014

Oh, and meant to add in case you were not aware: you can take pets in a carrier on BART.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:26 PM on October 1, 2014

You could catch the F (e.g., from where Market meets Powell) to Berkeley Dog and Cat. Not the cheapest place, but their willingness to give "advice nurse"-type advice by phone has saved me a few visits, maybe averaging out the same.
posted by slidell at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2014

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