A form of “Telemedicine” (video consultations) for cats should be considered by veterinarians. What I am thinking of is:
- a veterinarian providing a consultation over a video call using Skype or some other video conferencing software on a smartphone or a tablet computer. All these devices have excellent built in cameras and are designed for this kind of use.
- avoiding the stress of going to the vet’s clinic. We know how stressful this is for cats and caretakers. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a need to try and ameliorate the difficulties associated with taking a cat to the vet. One reason why cats are taken to the vet much less than dogs is because cats dislike vet visits much more than dogs.
Now….obviously not all consultations can be successfully carried out by Skype and a tablet computer. Sometimes a vet needs to palpate (feel) the cat and to look at the cat and be in the cat’s presence for all manner of good diagnostic reasons.
But…sometimes an initial, or follow up, consultation via smart phone video link will be more than adequate. A protocol acceptable to the governing bodies could be drafted, which lists the sort of video consultations that are approved.
Also, I think it is fair to say that with a video link, and the cat caretaker’s assistance, some palpation and visual inspection can take place under the vet’s guidance. A lot of cat caretakers are very knowledgeable and adept at handling their cat. A video smartphone connection would suit these people at least some of the time provided they were equally adept at handling a computer ;)!
It is a question of using modern technology, which has progressed in leaps and bounds, to provide a more modern and improved service to the domestic cat.
You can see some of the other advantages to the those listed above:
- Convenience. What is the cat’s caretaker is unable to get to his vet and wants a quick consultation for his cat that has already been seen by his vet? A quick video link allows the vet to see the cat and discuss the matter at the same time.
- Flexibility. A video consultation cannot substitute a one-to-one conventional consultation but it can supplement it. It is an add-on. It’s an alternative option for the veterinarian should he or she wish to take that option.
- Receiving a veterinary consultation outside the home for an injured or stray cat. Smartphones have permanent internet connections and would be ideal under these circumstances.
Doctors phone people and provide advice. The NHS direct line service was set up to provide a telemedicine service. Pharmacists provide occasional medical advice. These are options.
The veterinary profession could be more flexible and imaginative in how they deliver their service, especially to cats who are particularly susceptible to stress when out of their comfort zone of familiar surroundings.