With the internet comes endless possibilities to find answers on anything. These days, a lot of people self-diagnose illnesses that they believe they might have. Some, but not all, cat caretakers like to see if they can find a quick answer to an illness that they believe their cat is suffering from. The internet has spawned a generation of amateur veterinarians.
The objective, I suppose, is to save on paying a vet’s bill. I can understand that completely and, of course, at the same time you can save all the hassle of taking a cat to the vet if you successfully diagnose and treat your cat’s illness.
It is one thing to research feline illnesses to gain knowledge which helps you communicate with your vet but to diagnose is an altogether different prospect.
One obvious problem is that the core serious feline diseases such as FIV, FIP and FeLV have multi-symptoms and they can be the catalyst for secondary illnesses and a depressed immune system. You might successfully diagnose the secondary illness such as a URI and ignore the primary underlying illness. This may delay professional treatment and exacerbate the underlying illness. Some of the major disease can be difficult for a vet to diagnose never mind the untrained but dedicated cat owner.
Also, some symptoms are very unspecific such as lethargy, a lack of appetite and diarrhoea. Other symptoms need to be picked up and tests may need to be carried out to get to the bottom of the matter (i.e. blood work). This is well beyond the abilities and means of the cat owner (unless, of course he is a veterinarian).
Another negative to trying to diagnose a cat illness oneself is that it may delay a visit to the vet. Delay can make matters worse. We know that. Attempts at treating a cat can also matters worse. Think of the commonplace cat ear mite. They are not that hard to diagnose but are you skilled enough to kill them? A little knowledge and a little amount of skill can kill. Or make matters a lot worse. Palpating a cat¹ is one diagnostic method. Do this incorrectly and you can hurt a cat and, in any case, it is requires a lot of skill to do properly and to take useful information from the process.
The key is not to try and diagnose your cat’s illness but be skilled at spotting the signs that your cat might be ill and then taking her to a good vet promptly.
I do understand the monetary problems presented to many cat owners who are on tight budgets. The vet can be scary because the amount to be paid is often initially unknown. You don’t want to have an open ended veterinary bill staring you in the face. The harsh truth is, though, that each cat owner has a responsibility to ensure he or she has the funds to do at least a reasonable job of looking after their cat.
I have to finish up by referring to a previous post which was about the intrinsic value of a cat. If a person does not value their cat companion highly, he/she is more likely to take risks with respect to their cat’s health. A good cat caretaker by contrast will see their cat as a precious living companion. With that attitude taking risks with the health, happiness and life of their cat is unthinkable.
Note: (1) feeling the cat’s insides with one’s hands.