Primitive Instinct – Experiences of a Mobile Vet

The wheels of this mobile vet have certainly been turning, covering many kilometers in Sydney since my last blog entry.

Though a few enquiries from the central coast and also Perth have proved a little too far to travel, but happy to have a chat over phone or email if it helps!

As I’ve said many times, being a mobile vet really takes me to many diverse house calls and these recent few weeks were no different. Of-course this always gives me a few little educational anecdotes that I can share with you……………

As we all know cats have a great instinct, none stronger than their drive to survive. Even though we have domesticated them thoroughly so that they love to sit on our laps (well some anyway), they still are very reluctant to show that they are in pain or have a problem, especially to the vet, as they may be seen as “weak” and possibly come to further grief.

One common way this manifests is when they hurt their leg for example in a fight or jumping over fences etc. I often get a call to check out a limping cat, and lo and behold, as soon as I arrive – the limp has gone!

The owners swear they aren’t making it up – and don’t worry, I believe you!

A cat I saw recently had been in a cat fight and had a bad limp. When I examined it I found a small puncture in the foot probably from a tooth or claw and there was some infection. Pretty sore overall but in my presence she was able to walk almost normally. A few days later after some antibiotics and pain relief, though initially improved, her mum felt the limp was really bad again.

So off I went back to check, and of course, Suki was walking pretty well again. A thorough re-examination still couldn’t fine anything major so we decided to leave it a few more days with pain relief. A few days later Suki’s mum rang and said she was hardly using the leg at all still. So we decided to meet at the hospital and take some xrays and examine further.

Before anaesthetising her I re-examined the leg and can you guess – no limp at all!

After this thorough examination I still couldn’t find a really good reason to anaesthetise and x-ray her so I convinced her mum that we should just try a little longer on pain relief and rest and that she probably had traumatised a tendon or similar soft tissue structure which can take a while to heal.

Well finally, after arriving back home that very day – “magically” the limp was almost gone and a few days later Suki was back to normal, and needless to say grateful that she didn’t have to be anaesthetised.

In my presence Suki was quite anxious and thus was really reluctant to show me that she was in pain and had a problem but fortunately for her it wasn’t all that serious. In other circumstances things can be quite serious and sometimes it can be very difficult to determine the actual problem because the cat does such a good job of hiding it.

Sometimes we can play the “wait and see” game, but other times we may need to intervene a lot sooner if there is any hint of something more major. This kind of behaviour is totally normal and don’t worry, you’re not going crazy or being a “hypochondriac”. You know your pets better than anyone and sometimes they just don’t seem right to you but there is nothing specific.

These things all help to make my job very stimulating and often challenging and being able to help these scared and anxious little critters is part of what makes it all worthwhile.

Another quick example is dental disease. Unfortunately many of our pets have advancing dental disease which can be causing considerable pain and discomfort but they just don’t show it. Cats, in particular, get a unique condition called “cervical neck lesions” whereby the tooth roots start being resorbed by the bony sockets and they crumble away.

These teeth are very painful yet I see so many examples of these in cats that are eating normally and seem “fine”. What we don’t realise is how they are actually being affected and after these teeth are removed (the only option) and the mouth is cleaned up in general, many of these cats have a striking behavioural change becoming more affectionate and playful. Some of the crankiness that may have been there prior goes away much to the delight of the family.

Everyone knows how cranky you can feel if you have oral or tooth pain, and cats, dogs and other small furry pets are no different! They just try so hard to please us or just don’t want to “tell” us that we don’t realise often that they have chronic pain. This also shows how important it is to have annual health checks, and even more often in older animals. We know how we feel and can decide for ourselves whether we want to go to the doctor or health care professional. Our pets know how they feel but they don’t communicate it in the way that we may expect and so we must ensure that we stay on top of their health care as best as possible.

As usual, if you want to discuss any of this further, don’t hesitate to contact me in any way that suits you. If you want to have a house call then just let me know. You can also read about all my mobile vet services on my website and there is lots of other information too.

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