It is very likely that veterinarians more often treat the symptoms of a feline illness when compared to doctors treating sick people.
A doctor or a veterinarian’s primary objective is to cure their patient’s illness. If the illness is idiopathic, meaning without a known cause, then all the physician can do is to treat the symptoms and control the illness.
It has to be easier for a doctor to diagnose an illness in a person than it is for a veterinarian to diagnose an illness in a cat. The obvious reason is that the person can communicate with the doctor which, of course, makes diagnosis much easier. In addition, I would argue that far more research has been conducted in respect of human diseases than feline diseases and therefore doctors have more knowledge upon which to call when making a diagnosis.
Further, a doctor who is a general practitioner will frequently seek a second opinion by referring his patient to a hospital consultant. Also, a general practitioner can call upon other specialists such as radiologists etc. to carry out more tests thereby collecting more information upon which to make an accurate diagnosis. There are probably more diagnostic tools at a human doctor’s disposal than are available for a veterinarian.
Another reason why cat illnesses can sometimes go undiagnosed and be labelled as “idiopathic” is because the cat is not a human and therefore in the eyes of many is not seen as important as a human, which may result in a lower level of commitment in diagnosing a cat’s illness. Treating symptoms is an easier route and it speeds up turnaround times in veterinary clinics.
Certain feline conditions and illnesses are more often regarded as idiopathic whereupon the symptoms are treated rather than trying to cure the illness.
Allergies is one such example. Feline allergies are not that uncommon. It can be extremely difficult, it seems to me, to isolate the allergen which causes an allergy in an individual cat. Often, the cat’s skin shows signs of an allergy and itches. My reading of many comments and articles on this website indicate that veterinarians often end up prescribing steroid treatments or anti-itching treatments but avoid investigating the exact cause of the allergy which will often be an environmental allergen (there are hundreds of possibilities all of which are “hidden” or not obvious).
This is because it is financially unviable (due to the lower ranking of the patient less money is spent on the patient) and because the outcome of investigations may not bear fruit.
Another typical idiopathic feline condition is hair loss. Sometimes the cause is obvious but oftentimes the vet scratches his head and takes a stab at a diagnoses. There is perhaps more of a “suck and see” approach for veterinarians than for doctors who simply can’t take that risk.
I am simply asking questions but I would like to see more research carried out on feline diseases and more advanced treatments devised.
Modern human medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds – in fact it is too advanced on occasion because it costs too much – but veterinary medicine seems to have lagged behind.
The lack of money in the veterinary business is an underlying cause. The lack of money is due to perceiving the cat companion as not important enough to spend too much money on.