Cats or dogs: What's your preference?

The lowdown on which species veterinarians and veterinary team members prefer to work with, why—and if it matters.
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Aug 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
Conventional wisdom holds that when it comes to the veterinary business, it's a dog's world. Meaning that the majority of veterinarians and their staff prefer to work with dogs over cats. But how accurate is that belief? And if true, what does it mean for your clients and patients?

Having a preference isn't a bad thing, says Dr. Gary Norsworthy, DABVP, a San Antonio-based feline practitioner. "You need to work with the species that you feel most comfortable with," he says. Doing so will not only make your own work more enjoyable, it will also better serve your clients and patients.

Canine and feline practice varies significantly, Dr. Norsworthy says, from restraint methods to understanding and treating disease. "Even diseases with the same name will behave differently in dogs and cats," he says. When you focus on one species, you develop a better set of skills for treating that group.

Plus, clients will appreciate your devotion. "I attract more fractious cats than most practices, because when owners have been told not to return to other veterinary practices because of their cats, they seek us out," says Dr. Norsworthy, who opened a feline-only practice in 2000. "I'm more likely to work with them than a lot of my colleagues who prefer to work with dogs and only tolerate cats."

And don't worry about getting rusty, says Dr. Norsworthy. You can jump from a species-specific practice to a general one and back again without forgetting your skills. "I spent my first two years in a cat-only clinic, the next 25 in a general practice, and the last 10 in a cat-only practice again," he says.

Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Study

The complete package:
Do you prefer to work with dogs or cats in your practice?
Team members prefer to work with...
Cats may be gaining ground
Cast your vote: Cats vs. dogs
Cats may be beginning to gain ground
By Dr. Gary Norsworthy, DABVP

When I graduated from Texas A&M in 1972, most of my classmates came from a rural background where cats were barn creatures and largely disposable. My colleagues couldn't justify spending money on a cat because they could get a dozen more, and many took that attitude in practice.

But over time, a new generation of veterinarians came into the profession. They were more positive toward cats, probably because they had urban backgrounds and grew up with cats in their households. You can see the shift. When I graduated, there were three feline-only practices in the country. Now there are more than 300.

The complete package:
Do you prefer to work with dogs or cats in your practice?
Team members prefer to work with...
Cats may be gaining ground
Cast your vote: Cats vs. dogs