Q. My veterinarian has been insisting for years that my cat is overweight, and has now started using words like “fat” and “obese.” I’ve never denied that Onyx can stand to lose a few pounds, but using that kind of language is rude. Is this the kind of bedside manner being taught in vet school these days?
What kind of language would you recommend she employ? By your admission, Onyx has been overweight for years, and you’ve done nothing about it.
Here’s what I’d say:
Excess weight in cats is a cruel killer. Type II diabetes, debilitating liver disease and crippling arthritis are only three of the possible hazards. By feeding your cat more calories than he needs, you’re effectively causing him needless pain and putting him at high risk of potentially life-ending disease.
As far as bedside manner is concerned, I’m not shy about employing some pretty harsh language to press my point on this subject. In fact, I’ve found that using the “F-word” and dropping the “O-bomb” can be an effective technique for getting my clients’ attention, securing their buy-in and ultimately helping their pets achieve weight loss.
Though all of us prefer to recruit our clients’ cooperation through the use of emotionally neutral and highly supportive language, we can become frustrated on behalf of our patients.
Which is why, instead of being on the defensive on this subject, I strongly recommend you try to see things from your veterinarian’s point of view. She’s not trying to insult your cat. All she wants is to grab your attention so she can help you make things better for Onyx.
The next time you visit your vet, try taking charge of the issue. Tell her, “I know my cat is fat. What exactly should I do to fix that?”
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami and blogs at www.dolittler.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.