When to call the vet

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: Since becoming a cat owner (I adopted “Sally” in March), I’ve had this fear that something will go wrong with her and I won’t catch it in time, like an illness or injury. Sometimes she meows a lot, and I’m not sure why it is, but I’m embarrassed to contact the veterinarian because it doesn’t seem like a big problem. When should I call the vet? — Gerry T., via e-mail

DEAR GERRY: That you’re worried about the possibility of Sally getting sick shows that you’re a caring pet owner, and that you probably keep a close eye on her general health and behavior. I can understand your worrying about an illness going undetected, especially if you’re a first-time owner.

Most veterinarians are understanding and available to check out Sally anytime you’re not sure about her general health. You should always be able to call the vet’s office with questions, and if a phone call doesn’t allay your concerns, the front desk should schedule a visit with the vet and not put you off.

While it’s unlikely that a healthy, well-adjusted cat will have an emergency, it pays to be prepared. For example, your cat might be attacked by another pet and suffer injuries. Have some basic first-aid supplies on hand and easy to access just in case: gauze bandages, disinfectant, an emergency blanket. Also, have the number of the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic posted next to your phone or in your mobile phone’s address book, in addition to the regular vet’s number.