“The cat is acting odd which my daughter and I disagree about and we wanted to know what you thought of this.”
This is all I was told, no further information was forthcoming without my prodding, 3 sets of expectant eyes gazing upon me waiting for me to work my magic (client and daughter, both older than I, and cat).
I elucidated that the “odd” behavior which this middle age indoor cat had never displayed before consisted of avoiding the floor in the bedroom, staring under the door entering the room, trying to get up to high places and vocalizing. Otherwise perfectly healthy. Then I asked the key question = any fleas? “No, but I did get bitten by one recently.” Aha!
Sure enough fleas were found on the cat which I showed to all and flea preventative medication was administered as well as dispensed and I’m pretty sure the odd behavior will now subside.
It is always interesting to me that people are so impressed that veterinarians can figure out what is wrong with animals, as “they can’t talk.” But they certainly exhibit some kind of changed activity which their owner caretakers pick up on and through the process of history, physical exam, testing and/or treatment/medication trials we can usually figure out what is happening or at least make them better.
Often is takes just the right query or use of the proper instrument (in this case a quick sweep of a flea comb) and away we go. From a starting point of “odd”, which may have been conjecture or strictly behavioral and I might have had to conjure up a presumption of the presence of roof rats in this case to mild or significant medical distress – it all starts as a mystery but definitely requires the client appreciating that something is amiss. I just help them focus to the best of our ability on what the problem is at hand.
This is a close cousin to our vague friend: “Ain’t Doing Right” abbreviated (unfortunately) ADR in medical records.
Even though subtle, our pets give us clues to their state of health if we pay close enough attention