Friday, September 21, 2012

The best vet in Brooklyn

The cat heard the death rattle of the catbox as I lifted it down and made at once for a place of safety: a nice solid chair beside his pellet bowl, drug bowl and water bowl. The cornerbowls of a cat's life.

He had an appointment with Dr Slade for a check up and to have blood drawn at VERG, on Warren Street - to see how his hyperthyroidism is doing.

I love this veterinary practise, and I have seen a few (seven locally, at last count) in the eventful life of this former bodega cat, not to mention the ones in Cape Town where I would haul all of my parents' cats and dogs for their check ups and emergencies.

I am deeply impressed. In New York I don't know of a better run or more professional set up. The funny thing is, some of it is so simple: every pet owner is greeted in person by a vet who comes into the waiting room to fetch the pet and owner. A vet tech or non specialist vet often sees the animal first. They introduce themselves; they have always been prepped thoroughly and know all about the pet already. They take copious notes and ask detailed questions. When the specialist comes in later you are shaken by the hand in greeting. They are well briefed. And humane. Polite. And that's it. I mean, that's the way all practises should work. But they don't.

And they have decent magazines in their waiting room. I got to read The Economist instead of Fluffie's Weekly. Didn't understand a word but felt good.

And that is the point.

Carrying the 17lb cat there and back? That's another story.

While I sat waiting for the cat, ears pricked for his howling, which never happened, another vet spoke to a Hispanic man whose dog had a torn ear. A vet tech was translating into Spanish as the man's English was not fluent enough to grasp the nuances of the options he was being offered, viz. a) cauterizing the wound and leaving it split, b) gluing the ear which might tear again if the dog shook his head a lot and, c) ka-ching, sedating the dog and suturing the ear, which would cost another $200. The man was very anxious and called his wife. The vet was very patient. The vet tech was asked to explain, again, the price differences and drawbacks. Another vet sat beside a man with a sick cat and listened to this man talk and talk and talk. The minutiae of the cat's weight loss and weight gain, for perhaps ten minutes.

I sat reading The Economist. Estorbo is a regular. I do know now that a lot depends on Angela Merkel and that Michelle Obama's carrot is more effective than Mayor Bloomberg's stick. And that UN Peacekeepers should be paid more (their country gets $1,000 a day for them) and that it costs $3,000 a day to hire professional hostage negotiators for ransom-kidnappings. And that Nigeria's economy is growing at 7%,  a lot faster than South Africa's, and that Kenya is looked upon as more favourable investment than South Africa is.

VERG - the vet for me


  1. Poor Estorbo, seeking the comfort of his orange chair and feeding bowls when faced with the unattractive grey box. My heart goes out to him. I bet there was plenty of eeeeping.

    I've had my share of questionable vets and trustworthy vets. I follow the trustworthy ones wherever they go.

  2. I feel for 'Storby, and I'm glad you take good care of him and the vets take good care of both of you. It's a good thing for this cad that he is so far away, if I were near him I would smother him with Keeses, and i have a feeling that may not be his "way."

  3. Also, this article in the Economist about how to make change in our health via diet, is great. Yay! Economist!
    yay, vet, yay, you!

  4. That's quite the disgusted glare Estorbo is giving you. How is he doing?

  5. Bonjour Marie.
    Back from fabulous Paris and catching up on your posts.
    We could talk about hyperthyrodism in cats forever.
    My 19 year, 19 lb.!!! kitty had it for 3 years. I opted for a natural drop (that I can send you the link if interested) and it really helped with her appetite and howling all the time.
    She was losing weight rapidly, and this helped her for the last 2 years of her long life. Glad you have a good vet.
    xo Stacey

  6. John - poor kitty, I hate to scare him like that. He eeped a little but not much at all. He has a new eep, you'll see. More like a bark.

    Sara - he is receptive to kisses. Sometimes. And yes, that is one of the articles I read!

    petoskystone - he seems well and he looks very healthy, apart from the fact that is much noisier! He has not thrown up fro along time. The blood test will tell us how his kidneys are doing, too, which is what worries me a little.

    Bonjour, Stacey - welcome home :-) Yes, I would be very interested in the treatment you gave your cat. Estorbo is about 13 and like your kitty is not small, but has lost a little weight. This diagnosis seemed so very threatening, initially, and he had been throwing up a lot prior to the drug therapy.

  7. "Death rattle of the catbox." They know! I kept our carrier in the basement. All day long, I was in and out of that basement where we stored a lot of things. Never bothered Ming at all. She'd sleep through it. But, let me go down there for the carrier, and SHE KNEW.

  8. Can't wait to read Estorbo's version of the vet trip!

  9. How on earth do you get the cat to take his own pills?!! Tomorrow, I start week two of twice a day antibiotic pills for Lucy kitty - she had four (!) teeth removed last Saturday. I am currently globbing the pill in some reduced fat (ha!) cream cheese and (carefully) cramming in her mouth. We both end up coated in the stuff but the pill does go down.

  10. Diane - my parents also had a cat called Ming. Did you have Ping, too?

    Becky - Le Chat Noir is sitting on the Thesaurus. Not a good sign. I use it, yes, his cattle, should they stray inside.

    Katie - we pulverize and mix them with delicious, fancy canned food. I'm quite good at pill popping but not twice a day, every day.

  11. Marie,
    I don't have a contact email for you, so will give you the info via comment section....

    It is a natural drop called Resthyro.

    We saw results and a change for the better in 3 weeks. The radioactive drugs and other ear drops were not good for her, and we like the natural route, and I know you do too.

  12. Thank you, Stacey - wait: so your cat went through the weeks of radiation therapy, and it did not work?!

  13. Hola! Hermano, we are pleased that this trip to the ber' good bet was not too scary.
    Please tell us about the blood test soon.(Actually, we don't care, but The Secretary gets a bit wound up!)

  14. Happily for ypu, but sadly for most folks ... you getbetter treatment at the ved than most of us get at the MD.

    Hope Don Estorbo improves.

    $3000 a day for a mercenary? Makes me wonder about my career choice ... but, then they didn't let girls major in mercenary when i was in college.

  15. Oh, webb, yes, far better treatment than we humans get. No, not $3,000 for a mercenary, for professional hostage negotiation.

  16. And you know we are born hostage negotiators :-)

  17. Happy to hear that the ved, I mean vet visit was relatively uneventful. And a waiting room with the Economist ... score!

    I also had success going the natural route with thyroid medication for our Tabbygail. It was a traditional Chinese formula and I mixed it with baby food strained meat, which she liked. I was able to cut her dose of methimazole to less than half.

    Holding good thoughts for the results of Storbie's blood tests.


  18. This post ha just brought tears to my eyes...don't know why.

    I think it touches my heart when things are done properly and with compassion and interpreters.

    xo Jane

  19. I did not have such a good experience at VERG. I blame it mostly on Kristine Young of Hope Vets; which I'm not going into now, anyhow she called the lab test doctor & had me rush over to VERG. They were expecting me took my cat but no one spoke to me. About 45 minutes later or so I saw De, Murphy, young and very nice part time vet at Verg. She was honest & kind to me , said he was a very sick cat, hypothyroidism, heart , kidney problems &i should do what was right for me; not what others told me to do. It turned out that I needed to spend about $105 per month on pills to keep him safe. Dr. Young knew I was a senior, over 70, wasn't working& facing knee replaceement surgery in 3 weeks. The VERG bill was $465 & soon about $80. for more pills. I was motivated to write this because I believe the senior doctor at Verg should have talked to me & tried to undestand my situation. No one came into the waiting room to talk to me about my cat's problems. I did feel taken!

    1. I'm sorry you had such a sad and upsetting experience, and that your cat was so ill. I also came to VERG from Hope (Hopeless, in my case, and horrible for our cat), when Estorbo had to have an emergency unblocking.

      I have accepted, after much experience, that all vets are expensive. Some more than others. I do not find VERG to be in the "more" category, from my own experience...and the fees you had to pay are in keeping with what we have paid. It has occasionally been a hardship for us, and we have actually fundraised to help cover our cat's vet fees.

      I imagine it is very hard for any professional to say, even if they want to, We won't charge or will charge you less. It rarely happens for humans...why for animals?

      It's a sad reality that our pets will cost money, at some point in our and their lives. It's not easy.

      But I can't say anything more helpful. I am lucky that our experiences have been good, and without exception, there, they have been.

      I hope that your surgery went well and that you have recovered from it.


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