A recent weekend at home comprised a much-needed rest and time spent with my family – which, of course, includes the animals.

Tom, my moggie farm-born cat (who is far more scared of any potential prey than it would be of him, so doesn’t really live up to his farm origins), has an allergic skin condition that usually gets worse during the winter months. However, his most recent flare-up was worse than usual, so I took him to the practice I undertook EMS with over the summer and found myself on the other side of the consult table – as the client.

Having primarily taken him in for his skin, the vet prescribed a short course of corticosteriods to reduce the itching, as I had anticipated.

However, upon physical examination, it was discovered that Tom had lost weight and had a 3/5 heart murmur.

It wasn’t until the vet said she could possibly feel a thyroid nodule that the penny dropped – at home Tom continuously cries for food and has a constantly “on edge” demeanour (he’s practically scared of his own shadow).

This, along with him being an older cat (14 years old), makes for an almost textbook case of hyperthyroidism – so we decided to monitor his weight over the next couple of months and take T4 blood tests if he continues to show a loss.

It can be easy to become frustrated with clients who omit information that could be vital [...], but I think I’ll be able to sympathise much more in the future.I felt a bit guilty for not realising thyroid could be at play. However, Tom has always cried for food, so I’d never noticed a particular increase in that behaviour – nor had I realised he’d lost condition. Hopefully, this is not because I’m a poor excuse for a vet student, but because gradual changes can easily go unnoticed, which underlines the importance of recording figures for parameters such as weight.

It can be easy to become frustrated with clients who don’t notice these sorts of things, or omit information that could be vital but they might consider irrelevant. But, having now experienced this myself while understanding the position of both the vet and the client, I think I’ll be able to sympathise much more in the future.

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