HomeVeterinariansVeterinarians should be cat behavior experts

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Veterinarians should be cat behavior experts — 4 Comments

  1. I know that this may not work for cats, but it really helped one of our dogs. She was abused as a puppy and was exceptionally fearful of men. Our vet is a man. I found that taking her to the vet as a visitor when my other animals had appointments really helped her learn that the vet and his staff are really nice people and not to be afraid of them. The last time I took her to the vet, she went up to a strange man and sniffed his pant leg while wagging her tail. I was thrilled! Usually she barked at everyone.

  2. “Remember why vets are in the business; it’s not to assess behavior.”

    Sandra: What you’ve said is very true and makes a lot of sense.

    We don’t have many pet behaviourists here in the U.K. and they tend only to work on referrals from vets. This is to ensure that any health problems have been ruled out as a possible cause for the “problem” behaviour.

    Behavioural problems also require home visits over weeks or months, to assess causes and work out a treatment plan. This just wouldn’t be possible for a busy vet to fit into their daily schedule.

  3. I can only speak from my own experience, but I’ve found the vet and vet nurses I’ve used here in Britain, happy to offer behavioural advice.

    Many years ago I had a problem with a previous cat who suddenly began pooing behind my bedroom door every single day. Not great when the door opens inwards 🙁 Assuming it was a health problem I rang the vet to make an appointment. As soon as I explained the problem was misplaced toileting, the first question they asked was where she was pooing. The lady I spoke with on the phone immediately suggested this was behavioural and asked if there were other pets or any cats hanging around outside. When I said there was a stray cat spending a lot of time in our garden, they suggested finding a home for the stray would help and it did. As soon as he was re-homed, my cat went back to using her litter tray full time.

    I’ve found that some vets are much better than others at handling nervous animals in clinic and perhaps they are the ones who do have a good understanding of animal behaviour. A calm but confident approach always seems to help relax the animal. On the few occasions I’ve encountered a vet who was less than patient when one of my cats was getting a bit feisty, I’ve changed vet.

    Owners also have a part to play in this scenario. The better we understand animal behaviour, the better informed we are to recognise a good exam-table-side manner from a bad one.

  4. Well, I don’t think that vets would include this, since their focus is on “fixing” a physical/psychological issue, just as MD’s are. How many times has your doctor asked about your lifestyle behavior?

    Cats and dogs smell unfamiliar odors, hear and smell other animals, and may detect disease or illness from other pets.

    Although they don’t know about this environment, like we do when we go to the dentist or doctor, it’s unfamiliar, and therefore creates a stress response.
    That’s why mobile vets are preferred, if affordable. We have one in our area who doesn’t charge anymore than a regular vet, but of course she’s in high demand. She has low overhead, and is also holistic. A double plus. I couldn’t get an appointment when Mitzy was in crisis, so that’s the downside.

    I think if we need “behavior consulting”, we have to find a specialist. Fortunately they seem to be increasing.

    Remember why vets are in the business; it’s not to assess behavior. That’s a whole different arena, and doesn’t fit into their business model for profit.

    It only becomes a focus if they get bit or scratched!
    They aren’t in the rescue business either, so it’s not their concern if an animal goes to a shelter.

    If vets aren’t concerned with the most vital component of health, which is diet, I think we’re in “la-la land” to ask them to be “behavior experts”. If only……

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