Categories: cat welfare

Internet can discourage cat owners to take their sick cat to the vet

It is a modern phenomenon. Owning a cat to a good standard costs money and taking your cat to the vet is one of those expenses. Two aspects of modern life encourage cat owners to avoid the veterinarian’s clinic (1) high rates of personal debt and living hand to mouth and (2) freely available self-help information on the internet. A third issue is that going to vet is not a great experience. It is troublesome. It is like tearing up ten pound notes under a cold shower, to coin a well used phrase. Can something be done to make it more pleasant? Are mobile vets a better idea? You never see them in the UK.

The internet is full of advice on the causes of cat illnesses and sometimes on home treatments. The information is good and useful but it does not substitute going to the vet’s when needs must. A well informed cat owner is a useful asset at the vet’s but home treatments must be done with circumspection. Cat owners need to know their limits.

A lot of people use Google to search for answers to fundamental cat illness symptoms such as drooling, not eating, peeing blood (see the screenshot). Often the symptoms are general signs of a long standing illness which might well need urgent veterinary treatment because it has been left untreated for too long. This indicates a reluctance to do the right thing and get the sick cat to the vet asap.

Speed can be important. Leaving illnesses untreated leaves a cat in discomfort and sometimes chronic pain for extended periods. The condition gets worse. The cat’s ability to hide pain does not encourage their owner to take action quickly. Cat owners can check out signs of cats in pain on this site. There are better systems these days and facial expressions disclose cat pain.

The thought of domestic cats being left in pain for a long time is unpleasant. It is a sign of a failure in cat domestication. Often, it is about money and education. A lot of people ‘acquire’ a cat casually without reflecting on the cost and their abilities to take care of the companion animal to a good standard. Causal cat adoption and poor cat guardianship can go hand in hand.

The casualness of the adoption leads on to a causal approach to cat health awareness and treatment. Looking after a domestic cat is a serious business which can cost upwards of $15,000 (£15,000 in the UK) over the cat’s lifetime if you include insurance although most owners don’t take out health insurance because it is a bit of a rip off to be honest.

It appears that the internet is discouraging people to do the right thing to seek veterinary treatment in a timely manner and if so something needs to be done about it. One issue is that about five years ago veterinariana decided to write about illnesses and other subjects on their websites. They have websites to promote their businesses but is it wise of them to write extensively about animal health on websites? Perhaps it was a mistake. Perhaps it has backfired by reducing attendances at their clinics.

The vets might say that the biggest barrier to taking pets to their clinics is the inability to pay; a lack of disposable income. In which case providing information on the internet is a good second best situation. It is a well known fact that cat owners take their companion animals to the vet’s less often than dog owners. This is an interesting phenomenon too. One reason that springs to mind is that cats are less vociferous in expressing their discomfort when ill. There is a slight disconnect between cat and person which allows some cat owners to ignore feline illnesses.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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