She’s a dreamer and she’s not the only one

I received a nice note from a veterinarian in the UK.

mel2Her cats, Indy and Flower

Dear City

Firstly, a little background about me. Like so many others I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was growing up. I am proud of the fact that my very first word was “cat”.

  My mother taught me that loving animals was not enough, practical caring was also necessary; to ensure that those animals we cared for and loved had all their needs met.

 Seventeen years after graduating veterinary college I still consider it an honour and a privilege to be able to care for sick animals and to help those who love them to look after them to the best of their abilities.

   I have always been enthusiastic about sharing any knowledge I gain, and have enjoyed continuing to learn after leaving college. Some clients may think I talk too much, but I just want to help them in every way possible. Growing up with cats has given me a particular passion for felines and a fascination with trying to understand their behaviour. I was lucky enough to spend time in Namibia and South Africa working with cheetahs and lions in genuine sanctuaries a few years ago.

Since graduating college I have worked only with companion animals (cats, dogs, rabbits and other small animals.
Every cat I have ever encountered has had all his or her claws. It was only a few years ago that I learned that in some countries declawing is commonplace. As I discovered more about what the surgery involved, and the consequences suffered by many cats, I began to feel ashamed of being a veterinarian. I consider it my job to help owners to provide the best care for their pets.

How can someone who is prepared to inflict potential lifelong suffering on an animal advocate for them?

I have immense admiration for those veterinarians who choose to stand up and refuse to perform declaw surgery. It must be very difficult when you are being pressured by your employer and your clients to perform a legal operation.

I am so glad that declawing is illegal in the UK, where I practice.
I currently live with four cats (and two dogs). They have plenty of scratching posts, mats etc and yet I have still had some furniture cosmetically altered by them. I live with this furniture, as I can’t replace it right now. I would love to live in a beautiful home that is forever spotless, but if it meant having no animals around me then there would be no joy in it.

I have had a cat run across my face in the middle of the night, leaving a lovely scratch across my cheek. He was scared, I healed.
There are many things I wish I could change about the world in which I live. I would like to see greater kindness and compassion shown to all living beings, and a better understanding of the natural world. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one (thanks John Lennon).

If I could have a small wish for 2017 it would be for all veterinarians to stop performing declaw surgeries, and to help their clients have a better understanding of feline behaviour.
To my colleagues around the world I just want to say the following: I see people beginning to dislike (hate is such a strong word) veterinarians, accusing them of just wanting the money.

Well, let us all show the world that we became vets because we love animals.

Yes, we need to make a living, but not at the expense of those animals we have vowed to help.

Dr Mel

mel1White whippet is Brian, with his best buddy Leo