Renowned Cat Veterinarian, Author and Speaker: Elizabeth Colleran


This guest interview of  Dr. Elizabeth Colleran,  an ABVP Feline Diplomate is part of a series of interviews of the panelists appearing at the upcoming Cat Writer’s Association (CWA) Conference at Blogpaws ( June 23-25, 2016 in Chandler, AZ). Dr. Colleran is the chair of the Cat Friendly Practice task force. Her passion is feline education which has taken her around the country talking to veterinarians and support staff about feline medicine, behavior and ethology. Learn more about the Cat Friendly Practice initiative, ways to better understand your cat, their health needs, and also learn about her most recent course “The New Cat Science”  from Elizabeth Colleran at this year’s CWA 2016 Conference. Register here (

What influenced your decision to become a Veterinarian?

Out of college, I worked for a little company called IBM. I felt strongly that work should have value beyond making money for shareholders. I learned a great deal from the experience and yet knew that my future needed to be tied to community, animals, and the powerful relationship that people have with them. I went back to school at night to make up science credits, applied to the only school nearby, Tufts, and quit my job before I knew I got in. Crazy, no?

What in particular made you want to specialize/focus on feline health? 

In my first couple of years after my internship, I worked for doctors who didn’t care much for cats and didn’t treat them very well. I went to an American Association of Feline Practitioners meeting and found my kin and my passion. Attendees were dedicated to the science of feline medicine, understanding the unique nature of cats, and determined to improve their care. It was life changing. I decided that I would devote my professional life to making a difference in this amazing species.

What do you think is the most common misconception/misunderstanding of a cat owner when it comes to cats and their health?

  • One of the most significant gaps in guardians’ knowledge is the recognition of what pain looks like in cats. Once I fix a painful condition, clients come back and tell me how different their beloved kitty is acting, “like a kitten again” or not sleeping all the time or being more sociable again. But because they didn’t recognize the subtle changes that occurred over time, a long period of discomfort or real pain has occurred.
  • Although cats may seem self-sufficient and independent in nature, they still need routine veterinary check-ups to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
  • The majority of cat owners feel that bringing their cat to the veterinarian’s office is incredibly stressful, but there are some simple tips to make getting there much easier.

What general advice do you have for cat owners to better understand their cats?

Unlike all the other species we have domesticated, cats are unchanged from their origins thousands of years ago. They remain territorial, solitary hunters with an entirely unique way of experiencing the world. And yet they have willingly bonded with us in powerful relationship. Who they are and how they experience us, other creatures and the rest of the world is often not understood well. This foundation information can help people learn what cats need to live a rich and interesting life.

You are the Co-Chair of the CFP Committee. What would you like people to understand most about this Initiative?

There are more than 1000 Cat Friendly Practices in the US. It is the single most significant effort to change the way cats and cat guardians experience the veterinary visit. Consistent healthcare is an essential component of a long wonderful life for everyone and maybe especially for cats because they age so much more rapidly than we do. We are creating a low-stress environment by taking into consideration how cats experience the world. Cat guardians no longer need to be reluctant to take care of their cats’ health needs.

  • The Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program is a ground-breaking initiative in feline medicine because it requires practices to adopt feline-friendly environments and care. Cat owners and their cats can experience many benefits in going to a CFP-designated practice.
  • The CFP program takes feline medicine to the next level.
  • CFPs work to reduce the stress associated with the visit by enhancing the physical environment and the way in which medical care is delivered.
  • They make every effort to have a calming environment and implement feline-friendly handling.
  • All team members are trained to understand the individualized needs of cats including feline specific behavior and facial features.
  • CFPs encourage partnerships with the cat owner to provide the best care for their cat. Entire team takes the time to listen, answer all questions, and share information with the client about their cat’s needs.
  • CFPs facilities are well-maintained, hygienic, and thoughtfully equipped for feline patients with cat sized equipment and medical instruments.
  • For many more benefits, visit (There will also be a cat owner benefits flyer launching soon).
  • How to find a CFP –

You’re speaking about ‘The New Cat Science’ at this year’s Cat Writer’s Association Conference, can you give us a hint of what you will be talking about?

The world of cats is more fully understood now than ever before. Research is ongoing about how cars learn and how they think. They have rich emotional lives that we are beginning to understand. This species is unique in so many ways, not the least of which is that they are willing to be bonded with us. Many, many attempts have been made to domesticate other hunter-hyper carnivores with little success. Only Felis lybica has willingly done so. I teach a semester long class on “the new cat science” at my local college. That’s how much there is to know!

What do you hope your attendees take away from your presentation? 
If they leave excited about Cat Friendly Practice and the potential to vastly improve healthcare for cats and committed to educating their readers about who cats are and how they can enrich their lives, I will be delighted. I want them to leave charged up and energized about their future writing engagements.

What message do you hope Cat Writers start sharing with their audience about feline health or cats in general?

  • Although cats may seem self-sufficient and independent in nature, they still need routine veterinary check-ups to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
  • It can be stressful to take cats to the veterinarian and owners often believe their cat doesn’t need routine check-ups.
  • The CFP program takes feline medicine to the next level.
  • When designated as a CFP, veterinary clinics have proven they take specific extra steps to assure they understand a cat’s unique needs, implement feline-friendly standards, and make changes to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment, such as feline-only waiting areas or exam rooms.
  • CFP veterinary staff are trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding feline behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a leader in feline veterinary medicine?
Every time I meet with veterinary staff or give a talk at a meeting and someone leaves with an idea of how to improve their feline visit or feline medicine, I am beyond delighted. It is the small steps that add up to real change, not gigantic initiatives. We humans can have a great impact on every cat’s quality of life

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
We are now poised to tell cat guardians to look for Cat Friendly Practices because there are more than 1000 of them and 640 more in the process. Veterinary staff who have made this commitment will be sought out for health care because they know it will be comfortable, safe and compassionate.

To learn more about the Cat Writers: Click Here
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The read more about Dr. Colleran or AAFP


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