In the past when veterinary care was not as advanced as it is now, when humans that had animals as part of their assets spent much less than we do now on veterinary care, there was the veterinarian-on-call, otherwise known as the barnyard vet. One who studied veterinary care as an apprentice, when it wasn’t so much a science but a craft.
I often refer to the application of my collected learning on basic feline veterinary care, as administering veterinary aid ‘slum-vet’ style. My slum vet experience came through picking the brains of the vets I talk to, researching symptoms and feline diseases, and somehow I can remember the names of the medications – and their dosages – that pass through my hands and what they are used for.
(To digress a little before I go on – I use the term ‘slum’ vet as inspired by the term ‘slum doctor’ in one of my favourite autobiographical books Shantaram. A more culturally appropriate term would probably be kampung vet, but the slum vet term stuck already.)
Having to become a slum vet came out of necessity – when we started our rescue work we often didn’t have the funds to send every rescued cat to the vet. We had to rely on what we knew and could research on to home-remedy illnesses in rescued cats. We don’t have a pro bono vet on call to come and check on our rescued cats regularly. Even now, we have to appropriate funds for serious veterinary emergencies only because it would not be feasible for every rescue to afford a vet visit. So we simply have to treat as many ill cats as we can at home.
In a way, as pet owners, we all have to be slum vets too. Animals, like human infants, cannot communicate where they are taking ill, and knowing more about cat health care makes it much less stressful for you in the ten to twenty years your cat will spend in your lifetime. Cat health care knowledge will also help you diagnose simple ailments that can easily be treated at home without necessitating a costly vet visit. It will also help you differentiate between a serious vet-necessitating situation and one that can actually be home-remedied. You will also know the right questions to ask when you do bring your cat to the vet – buyer knowledge, as it were.
Being a slum vet means going back to basics on barnyard-vet-practices – learning from others. Pick the brains of your veterinarians – ask them as many questions as possible with each visit. Have a cat manual handy that you can refer to when you suspect your cat is ill. Use Google and type in symptoms with + feline or + cat.
And to help our Love Kuching adopters in future on the quest to be ‘slum vets’ themselves, we are hoping to produce an adoption aftercare manual that can be referred to for basic cat care advice. In the meantime, do take it upon yourself to learn as much as you can about feline health care if you haven’t already started on the quest towards more knowledge on feline health. Or email me if you have a cat care question and need an opinion, whether or not you are an adopter or a reader of our blog, pet owner education is always a priority to us.