*CATalysta in the community
Dr. Susan Little
Dr. Susan Little has been in feline practice for almost 25 years, during which time she has been on the boards of numerous organizations dedicated to bettering life for cats. Since 2003, she has served on the board of the Winn Feline Foundation and is also a past president. She has authored and co-authored numerous research and review articles in veterinary journals. Most recently, she is the editor and co-author of a new feline medicine textbook, The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management (Elsevier, 2011), which has been receiving accolades from veterinary professionals and the profession-related media across the country and overseas. Dr. Little also lectures and teaches about feline medicine internationally.
While she started her veterinary career in a "mixed" animal practice (dogs AND cats!), Dr. Little jumped to a feline only practice after just two years.
"I always knew that I had more affinity for cats than dogs. I've always been more comfortable around them and understood them better," she explains.
When she was approached to be the editor for The Cat, she jumped at the opportunity because there hasn't been a new comprehensive textbook on feline veterinary medicine published in many years, and because she loves challenges and learning new skills.
The first few chapters in The Cat detail some techniques that practice owners can use to make their practice "cat friendly."
"Because cats don't give up their secrets as easily as dogs, it works against clinicians. That means we need to step up our game as far as getting the information out of the owner. The art of the interview is really important and it's not commonly included in a medical textbook. But if you can't do that well, everything downstream will suffer."
To illustrate that point, Dr. Little tells a story about what happened to her during her first year in practice. She was working in a busy practice, and one afternoon a woman brought in her grey cat. The woman also brought her three rambunctious children with her to the appointment, but was not paying much attention to the children who were climbing on everything in the exam room, opening cupboards, playing with the medical equipment, running in circles, generally being distracting and poorly behaved. As a result, Dr. Little had to examine the cat while she tried to keep an eye on the children so they wouldn't injure themselves. When she diagnosed the cat with an upper respiratory infection, she told the client that she would meet her at the counter in the waiting room to give her some antibiotics.
The woman looked at her, puzzled, and said "That's not why I'm here. I was only hoping that you could tell me if this is my cat or not. My cat ran away four weeks ago and this cat turned up today--is this her?"
Dr. Little says, "From that day forward, I always start by asking the client why they are there. It sounds simple but it's very useful because they might volunteer more information or have additional concerns that aren't written down on the chart by support staff."
Her ability to teach others based on her own experiences as well as her dedication to cat health and welfare are what make Dr. Susan Little this month's CATalysta.
To purchase The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management, click here.