I ask myself this after nearly every new puppy or kitten appointment. There is just so much information to share with a new owner, especially if they have never had a pet before. If the new puppy or kitten came from a shelter then I feel like I am overwhelming and off-putting. If the person went to a breeder or pet store, then I feel like I am informative and reassuring. That is a bummer, because I really love when people can rescue their new addition from a bad situation, but I feel like they never get enough information. So as frustrating as breeders and pet stores can be sometimes, they do make that new kitten and puppy appointment easier somehow.
Here is some support for how I am feeling. Yesterday, I saw a friend in an appointment with her new kitten. The kitten is absolutely adorable and she and her 3rd grade daughter are in love with him after only one short week. They made an appointment for a check up just so that they could be sure that they knew what they were supposed to be doing even though the foster family said "that everything has been done already" at the adoption event where they went to rescue him. Well, if "everything" means neutering and a Rabies vaccination, then sure, everything was done. I cannot even be 100% sure that the Rabies vaccine was done, the paperwork just didn't jive in some instances. For example, his birth date was October 20th, and the first vaccine was given on October 27th. I doubt it. That would be pretty strange. So, after examining this sweet thing and reviewing all of the paperwork, and checking for the microchip that was supposed to be there and wasn't, we discussed all of the findings and the to-do list.
The findings: He is an adorable kitten with a lovely disposition. He has the usual complement of shelter/rescue cat problems which are; ear mites, worms, a resolving cold, and very stinky gas. I can fix all of that with relative ease most likely by asking his new owners to employ my to-do list, but is that overwhelming and off-putting? Do I seem like I must have some vested interest in a pharmaceutical company (nobody is mentioning Pfizer in particular, here...).
The to-do list: First of all, consider a Leukemia and FIV test and consider a series of Feline Leukemia vaccinations and installing a Microchip since he didn't have one like he was supposed to have had. However, with the remainder of the must do items on this to-do list, maybe we should spend the money elsewhere. Treat the ear mites, send out a few serial stool samples to ensure that we eventually eliminate the scary zoonotic (transmissible to people, even 3rd graders!) parasites, deworm him right away before even waiting for a stool sample, begin applying topical applications of Revolution monthly to maintain a parasite free environment, start a special diet with prebiotics to help eliminate the stinky poops while we wait for the parasites to go away and for his little belly to straighten itself out, and go from there. When I say go from there, I hope that it doesn't mean test him for FeLV and FIV because he isn't getting better.
Can I really expect this person to now have a discussion about routine care and wellness after all of this has been thrown at them? Would it be ridiculous to suggest that they come back for another appointment in two or three weeks just to discuss wellness since we had to gloss over wellness so quickly?
Why do foster families and shelters mislead people by saying that everything is done, you just need to make a donation and you are good to go? Most often, these pets are far from "good to go" and the people end up spending about as much as they would have if they had purchased their pet in the first few weeks. I am not suggesting that people purchase rather than rescue their pets, I just wish that they were made aware of the potential problems and expenses that they may incur. In this case, I am lucky, because my friend wants to do the right thing, and without even knowing there was a problem, made an appointment. But what if she had just waited until the Rabies vaccine was due next year? Well, chances are she would have never made it that far before the diarrhea began, but if she did, that poor little guy would have suffered with ear mites for a whole year! I am willing to bet that his ears would never recover to a completely normal state if it had gone untreated.
I hope that I was informative and reassuring, but I am afraid that I was overwhelming and off-putting.