*** Note - this is meant to be supportive, not flaming ***
I agree with Kay. For the most part I don't think that people tend to
take their cats to the vet soon enough - not because they don't care, but
because they are unaware of subtle changes. The other reason is that
they might not have built a good relationship with their vet - this means
finding a good vet and making an effort to have them teach you what you
need to know.
I'm not a vet either, but I have been able to keep my Feline Leukemia cat
going strong for over 7 years - yes, she has problems and ends up
hospitalized for about a week every 12-18 months. That usually happens
when I haven't been as observant as I should have been to catch the early
warning signs that her immune system is struggling.
Also, there is a difference between "going to the vet" and "calling the
vet". Other than a routine checkup with shots, I usually start by
calling in and talking to a technician or one of the vets if necessary.
I am assuming that's part of what I pay for everytime I go in for a visit.
There is really a wealth of knowledge here on the net - especially with
Kay and all others like her who are willing to take the time to help us
think through our kitty problems. My vet is always amazed at how accurate
the electronic diagnoses can be. But it doesn't replace the vet and it
doesn't replace owners being very tuned in to their critters. It supplies
additional knowledge that can help you understand you cat and talk
intelligently with your vet.
My vet has often said that she wishes more of her clients were like me -
it makes her job easier and it's wonderful to see an animal thriving
whose prospects were once looking very dim.
I'm know some vets are better than others - so find one who cares as much
as you do!
Anyway - thanks again to everyone who takes time to answer! I've learned
Linda Cornell (Pand'a and 'Tilly)
>> If I went to the Vet every time "Nachos" did something peculiar,
>> I'd be there every week. You DON'T have to see the Vet every time
>> your cat does something out of character. I get the strange feeling
>> a few Vets and their families are doing overtime in this group. Cats
>> will let you know when something is really wrong.
>Marc, I'm one of the people who often advocate talking to your vet, so I'd
>like to respond. Yes, I used to have a vet in the family... my great uncle,
>who taught me some of the basics when I worked with him one summer... I was
>9. Earl is long dead.
>I'm a botanist, not a vet. Did my undergrad and PhD work at a university
>with a vet school. Always had pets, but cats only for the last 28 years.
>During that time, I've learned a lot about cats, and a lot about vet work,
>and one of the main things I've learned is that I can often tell that
>*something* is wrong, by subtle behavi***changes, but I'm not able to
>diagnose or treat these problems by myself. If a cat starts acting "odd",
>especially lethargic or withdrawn, I'll keep a careful eye on him/her. If
>I haven't figured it out, or if the behavior continues for more than a day,
>I do talk to my vet. Sometimes the answer is "watch for this, this, or
>that, and call me back if s/he hasn't picked up in a day", sometimes the
>answer is "bring him/her in".
>I'm a firm advocate of learning what's normal for your cat. I've taken
>lots of cat temperatures at various times of day and night, and I know
>now what's "normal" for each of my cats (for instance, Bear's temp tends
>to peak about 4 pm, while Bess's is highest in the early morning). I
>know the average resting respiratory rate of each cat. I know the average
>color of their gums. I also know how to check for hydration, find a bladder
>or liver, give shots, and examine a stool specimen for worm eggs.
>Most people aren't interested in learning the last item, but the other
>skills are easily learned if you have a vet that's willing to teach you.
>You get to know more about the health of your pet, and you'll save money
>on some minor procedures, and probably spot problems before they become
>critical, life-threatening (expensive to treat) problems. In return for
>teaching you, your vet gets a client that can accurately report problems,
>and handle some of the basic physical exam, which helps him/her determine
>if your pet needs to be watched at home, seen (and how urgently) or whether
>it's just another example of cat craziness.
>Every time I go to the vet, I learn something new... whether it's just
>stats on the prevalence of heartworm in our area, or, like last time,
>how to measure a heart on x-rays (and what an enlarged heart looks like
>compared to normal).
>What do I spend on vet care for 6 cats, 3 of which have chronic health
>problems? Well, last year it totalled $343, which included two surgeries.
>Looks like this year may be a bit higher, but not much-- 4 of the 6 were
>due for rabies shots this year, and we've had one surgery and three x-rays.
>IMHO, since my pets can't tell me what's wrong, I've got the obligation to
>either learn how to tell if something's wrong, or to talk to or take them
>to someone who does know.
>Kay Klier Biology Dept UNI