Baby Criminal Bailed Out!

It’s a little past one o’clock in the morning, and we are coming home after a nice walk on Ocean Drive, when we hear faint squealing. Right outside the police department, across the street from our house, stands a tall, young, Latin-looking policeman, holding something so small, it can’t even be seen. Lost in his huge muscular arms, the tiny peach colored fuzzy thing is squealing like mad. It’s a baby kitten!

“Where did it come from?”

“Something was squealing in the bushes,” – says the cop, “I thought it was a possum trespassing on police property, so I was about to call the animal removal people, but I went to investigate first, and here it is – a baby kitty.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Well, unless someone bails it out, our rule book says we have to take it to a pound.”

We heard the “p” word! There was a momentary hesitation: how would the two big cats, siblings who grew up together, do everything together, and rule the house together, take to the baby intruder? But the alternative was too terrible to contemplate! I took her into my arms and held her like a baby. The poor thing was trembling, but as soon as she felt the warmth of my body, she calmed down and went to sleep – like a baby.

At first we didn’t know whether it was a girl or a boy, so we came up with two names. The first priority, though, was to feed the baby. When we gave her a dish with kitten food, she almost inhaled it! We have never heard a cat making sounds like that while eating. She was ravenous – she must have not had anything to eat for quite a while, poor baby!

Once she ate her full, he became playful. She still wants to be next to Mama most of the time, but she also loves playing with toys, and she is a great explorer. Now we know – it’s a girl! She is about 4 – 5 weeks old, healthy, beautiful, and full of energy. As to the older cats, it was tough the first couple of days, but now they have accepted her.

Uncle Barmalei even lets her play with his favorite toy and catch his tail! He supervises her activities, to make sure she is safe.

The little trespasser is not a criminal any more; she is our baby.

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Caring For Your Cat’s Eyes

Your cat’s eyes function in the same way that your own do and are made up of the same components including

  • Cornea, the transparent outer covering of the eye
  • Pupil, the circular membrane in the center of the eye that lets light from the environment enter the eye
  • Iris, the pigmented membrane that surrounds the pupil and contracts or expands to regulate the amount of light that can enter the eye
  • Lens, a transparent structure that adjusts its shape as needed to focus
  • Retina, a sensitive membrane that lines the interior surface of the eyeball. The retina receives the focused light impulses that have entered through the lens and then sends them to the brain,as visual information
  • Optic nerve, this sends signals to the brain
Picture Courtesy Of the Hills Atlas Of Veterinary Anatomy
Picture Courtesy Of the Hill’s Atlas Of Veterinary Anatomy

Commonly Seen Eye Problems

Corneal Ulcers:  The surface of the eye can become damaged or ulcerated following injury or infection. Corneal ulcers can become worse if left untreated and may even lead to permanent damage or blindness.

Conjunctivitis: This happens when the lining inside the eyelid becomes red, inflamed and very painful. It may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, injury, allergic reaction or a foreign body in the eye or conjunctiva.

Foreign Body: Occasionally foreign objects such as tiny pieces of grit,  thorns or other plant substances may become lodged in the eye or the surrounding tissues, causing pain and irritation.

Cataract: Opacity in the lens in the eye. Similar to humans, this problem can occur with old age, trauma or disease.

Tear overflow: Tears may leak from the corner of the eye, causing staining to the hair in light coloured animals or a build up of crusty “eye gunk” that gets caught up in the animal’s hair. If the eye area is persistently wet or the gunk is in contact with the eye itself it can lead to inflammation and infection.

Tear duct obstruction: The ducts that normally drain tears from the eyes become blocked resulting in tear overflow onto the face. This may be caused by an infection or be the result of a dental problem. Short-nosed breeds of cats ( e.g. persians) can be more prone to this problem.

Dry Eye: This is also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca and is caused by inadequate tear production, which may be initially be due to trauma or infection, Symptoms of dry eye include a thick, yellowish discharge and chronic infections because the lack of tears means that the eye is not able to flush away bacteria and particles such as dust and pollen.

Entropion: The eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and hair rub against the surface of the eyes, which leads to irritation and pain. This condition is more commonly seen in breeds with flat faces.

How To Tell If Your Pet Has An Eye Problem

Eyes are very delicate and sensitive organs and when problems occur they can be accompanied by a number of symptoms. If you see anything out of the ordinary you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

  • You cat is blinking more
  • Your cat seems to be squinting or the eye looks half closed
  • Your cat is rubbing the eye Weepy Eye Cat
  • The eyes are producing more tears than usual
  • The eye or surrounding area looks red or inflamed
  • The eye itself looks to have a scratch or something in it
  • There is any discharge (clear or gunky)
  • The eye looks cloudy or discoloured
  • The eye is bulging
  • Your cat has started to bump into things

How Eye Problems Are Diagnosed and Treated

Eye problems are diagnosed with a thorough eye examination by a veterinary surgeon. They may use one or more of the following techniques

Physical Examination – Sometimes eye problems can be linked to or caused by other illnesses and diseases, so a thorough examination will enable the vet to check for other problems.

Ophthalmoscope – used to examine the inside and outside of the eye. The ophthalmoscope consists of a light source, mirror, and view hole through which a circular series of convex and concave lenses can be used to examine different parts of the eye.

Fluorescein Stain – this is a dye that can be applied to the eye which will stain any areas of injury such as ulcers and scratches or foreign particles.

Tonometer – measures intraocular pressure

Schirmer’s Test – this is a small paper strip that is used to measure tear production.

Blood Test – If the vet suspects that the eye problem is linked to an illness or disease, a blood test may be needed to investigate this.

The treatment of an eye problem will usually depend on the cause; some cats may need a short course of antibiotic drops to clear up an infection, while those with problems such as dry eye may require ongoing treatment with eye medication and lubricating solutions. Cats with problems such as ingrowing eyelashes may require surgery to correct the problem. In all of these cases it is very important that your cat cannot cause further damage or irritation to the affected eye, so a buster collar may be necessary to prevent this.

Keeping Eyes Clean

Cleaning away any discharges or tear-staining from around the eye area may be necessary for your pet, especially if your pet is short-nosed (brachycephalic breed), has slightly protruding eyes, has light coloured fur that is prone to tear staining or has an eye infection or problem.

  1. Wash your hands so that you do not introduce any dirt/infection to your pet’s eyes.
  2. Care should always be taken not to touch or contaminate the surface of the eye.
  3. I recommend that you use either a sterile solution of boiled and then cooled water on some cotton wool pads, or some pet eye wipes (available from your veterinary practice and most pet stores).
  4. Always wipe from the inner corner of the eye towards the back of the head or down and away from the eye, using a different side/piece of the cleaning pad each time you wipe.
  5. Make sure you always use a separate piece of cotton wool or eye wipe, for each eye to prevent cross-contamination if an infection is present. (Eye wipes are generally quite big, so there is no reason why you can tear them in half/thirds to make them go further)
  6. You may need to ‘soak’ any particularly stubborn eye gunk to make it easier to wipe away.  Just gently hold your damp cotton wool pad or eye wipe onto the area.
  7. If there are just tiny bits of gunk/sleep at the corners of the eye – you can wash your hands and then just use a finger or your thumb to remove/wipe this away easily.
  8. If your pet is particularly hairy, you may need to trim some of the fur away from his or her eyes. Always do this carefully, using round ended scissors and if you are any doubt ask a groomer to do it for you.

Do Not use anything in your pet’s eye that you wouldn’t put in your own eye and NEVER use a salt water solution in or near the eye!  

Tortoishell Cat - Pet Facts Article

How to Apply Medication or Eye Drops To The Eye

Your pet may need to have eye medication in the form of drops or a cream at some stage and giving this medication should be relatively simple if you follow our guide. The key thing with pets is to be prepared, have everything to hand and, most importantly, Don’t Faff About – Be direct and quick!

  1. Get the medication ready and within reach
  2.  Wash your hands, you do not want to introduce infection to an already sensitive area
  3. It may be necessary for someone else to hold your pet for you while you apply the medication. For smaller animals we recommend placing them onto your lap or on a table.
  4. Gently clean any discharge / gunk away from your pet’s eyes (as mentioned above). You may have to skip this step if your pet’s eyes are too painful.
  5. Gently pull down on your pet’s lower eyelid and up on your pet’s upper eyelid and drop the medication onto the eye or onto the inner part of the lower lid as directed by the vet . I often find this easier to do if you are positioned behind the pet, rather than from the front as it helps to prevent your pet moving their head back and away from your fingers.
  6. Make sure that the medicine container does not touch the surface of the eye or any surrounding tissues
  7. Try to hold the eyelids open for a few seconds as this will help prevent the medication from being blinked out .
  8. Reward your pet with a really tasty treat and/or a game of something fun. This is especially important if your pet will need to have eye medication regularly.

Cat Eye Drops Castle Vets

If your pet has an eye condition that requires eye medication your veterinary nurse will usually be happy to demonstrate how to do this for you.

Misha’s diaries-“What! am I pregnant??”

Hello everyone!

So, Misha ( my cat 🐱) had one of her life’s most exciting experience! Not only for her, It was an amazing experience for me too!

Sunday morning, Misha had an appointment with the vet, as she had an abscess that needed to be looked at.

Her name was called and  I rushed inside with a very calm Misha. While the vet was examining her, I asked him to also check if Misha is pregnant.

I had a slight suspicion about it, because she hadn’t gotten into heat since January and her stomach was also growing a bit. She also had increased appetite and a tremendous weight gain, which I suspected was a pseudopregnancy!

How can an eight-month kitten get pregnant! Curiosity killed me, not the cat!

The vet went into a small room with his assistant to check something. After a few minutes, he called me in with Misha.

As soon as I stepped into the room, I saw a thing, that seemed like an ultrasound, for when you check babies, but a smaller size.

I quickly understood, that it was for Misha! I was so excited! He told me to take Misha from her carrier. He made Misha lay on her back and applied a gel on her stomach region.

Then he put a scanner like handheld there and began to scan. A monitor was on and we could see two small round things floating around! We saw it’s spine and little hearts beating!

Misha was in an expression which looked like she said “What! Am I really pregnant?”.

In my entire life I hadn’t even seen a human baby in an ultrasound scanner (apart from movies!!) and now I am seeing a cat! So very exciting!! The vet prescribed some medication and he even told misha’s gestation period will be over soon!

I am a bit scared as well as excited! Misha, I think, is also happy!! Hoping for the best!!
Meow 🐱!!

Important Note:

At this point we would like to point out the importance of neutering to avoid situations that can lead to unwanted kittens. While in this particular story it was a happy moment for Misha’s human a lot of people are not aware how soon cats can get pregnant and end up with unwanted kittens that will require re-homing.

Fun time with smelly valerian and pawesome catnip

English Post | German Post

Hi everyone,

We hope you are having a great week?

As some of you may know we are currently running a series of monthly giveaways with our German partner 4cats.

One of our recent winners kindly put together a review for us that can be found below. 🙂

Now if you’ve not yet entered why not head over here for your chance to win a box of mixed toys? 😀

Just a quick post to say Thank You Very Much for our 4Cats giveaway win. The kitties were really excited to receive the parcel, and enjoyed helping me unpack the box.

4cats toys

“Hey Onni, look at this box full of things. It smells great!”

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“You’re right Pepper, these things smell great! I think they’re for us kitties. I hope Mum hurries and unpacks the box.”

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“Hey! What are you two looking at?” mews Naja as she saunters down from the cat tree. “Oooh yes, I’m sure these must be for us, you know how much Mum and Dad love us. And Mum said we won a prize recently”

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“I love this smelly Valerian! It smells a bit like Dad’s feet and smelly cheese!” says Pepper, as she’s playing with the Dolphin.

“You’re right Pepper, the Dolphin is fun. This Cat Nip pillow is fun to rub on too. Smells great!” says Naja.

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“This Valerian pillow is keeping me amused” says Taivas. “It’s purrfect for wrestling with!”

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“I prefer to just lie and gently rub on the Valerian pillow” says Sweepy

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“I like to have a good roll and rub on it” says Flash

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“Hmm, none of us are quite sure what to do with this one, but I just like to rub my head on it” says Pepper

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Everybody loves this Dolphin. Here are Onni and Taivas with it.

As you can see, our cats are extremely impressed with their 4Cats toys. I’ve only given them these four shown so far, saving the others for another time.

You can smell the quality of the Valerian and CatNip in these toys yourself – our cats are fussy about cat nip, and won’t play with inferior nip. So judging by their response to these toys, they’re obviously high quality.

Our kitties give 4Cats toys a 5 star recommendation, and I would buy them in the future.

Sadly Cookie was outside whilst gathering photos, but she has given her approval to these toys too.

Quirky kitties: investigating your cat’s most curious behaviour!

By the RSPCA’s cat behaviour and welfare expert, Alice Potter.

Many of us share a home with a cat and even consider them to be an important part of the family but do we really understand them?

This blog will try to explain some of our cats’ curious and quirky behaviours, because the more we understand them, the better we can be at making sure our cats are happy and healthy.

Why does my cat… not drink from her water bowl?

Image: wabisabi2015It’s quite common for cats to ignore the water in their bowl and to opt for another source such as the glass of water you keep next to your bed or a running tap.

This isn’t about being fussy, this is actually a very sensible behaviour they are believed to have inherited from their wildcat ancestors. In the wild, cats wouldn’t drink and eat in the same place, because they may contaminate their drinking water with the entrails of their prey.

Instead, they drink away from where they eat, ideally where there’s running water which is more likely to be clean and fresh. This is why your cat may jump up and drink from the tap when you clean your teeth or the glass of water next to your bed – because it’s far away from their food bowl.

Top Tip: Always place your cat’s water bowl away from where they eat, ideally in a separate room. If your cat enjoys running water, consider getting them a pet drinking fountain.

Why does my cat… rub against me when I get home from work?

In part this is a greeting behaviour but there is more to it.

Your cat is depositing scent on you to make you smell more familiar. Cats have a number of different scent glands on their body including on their cheeks, tail and the sides of their mouth. These scent glands  produce pheromones which have a unique smell.

When you get home from work or being out you will have picked up all types of new smells so by rubbing themselves on you, your cat is making you smell more like them, more familiar and more safe.

Top Tip: Familiar smells can help your cat to feel more safe and secure. If you move home, take your cat to boarding, or even just visit the vets, make sure your cat travels with an item that smells of home such as a blanket or worn piece of clothing.

Why does my cat… roll over and show her tummy but not want it to be stroked?

Image: Elle Cayabyab GitlinIt’s easy to assume that if your cat exposes their tummy it’s because they want to have it rubbed but many cat owners who have tried may have had an unpleasant surprise!

When cats expose their tummy it makes them vulnerable, so when they greet us in this way it’s a sign that they feel safe and trusting. However, it isn’t a request for a belly rub.

When your cat rolls over and shows you her tummy it’s best just to acknowledge her with a gentle little head rub.

Why does my cat… love being stroked one minute then seem fed-up the next?

We often think of our cats as being unpredictable or just plain grumpy but with a little more understanding we soon learn that isn’t the case.

As humans, we tend to enjoy more intense and longer social interactions compared to cats who like them to be short and sweet. This means that we can easily overdo it when we are giving our cats a fuss and might miss the subtle signs telling us that they’ve had enough.

Top Tip: As well as only enjoying short social interactions, recent research has also confirmed that cat’s only like to be stroked on particular parts on their body too. When cats groom each other they focus on the head and neck and they prefer these areas when being stroked by people too.

Why does my cat… really love boxes?

Image: Bobbi BowersHiding is a natural behaviour for cats and boxes provide the ultimate opportunity. Research has shown that being able to hide can help cats feel less stressed so it’s important all cats have hidey-holes around the house to retreat to for some time out.

In addition, cats are highly intelligent animals who are naturally motivated to explore. They also have the physique to jump and climb – so why not find out what’s in the box?!

Why does my cat… seem to prefer people who don’t like cats?PR stock image

It’s believed that the body language of people who aren’t keen on cats actually makes cats want to be around them.

In contrast to some cat lovers, people who aren’t so keen tend to give the cat more space, less eye contact and can appear overall as less threatening.

If cats have the choice to approach somebody in their own time rather than have it forced upon them they will likely feel more relaxed and comfortable with the interaction.

We hope we’ve cleared up some of your cat’s more perplexing behaviour! 

Did you know that London currently has a “cat crisis”? Read about it in our recent news story and City Cats report.

Lovecats! How nervous Patch found his purr-fect match

The tale of two star-crossed felines, with special thanks to Sarah Piggott from RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre.

A rough patch

PatchPatch came into our care in May of last year. His owner had far too many cats to care for – they were all under-socialised and very timid. The household then suffered a house fire, which thankfully Patch managed to escape uninjured from.

He was utterly traumatised by his experiences and was one of the most nervous cats Southall Cattery had ever seen. He couldn’t be handled at all and would hide all day.

The day Seraphina came to stay

Seraphina arrived in November, having been rescued from another multi-cat household. She was suffering from a flea allergy and had severe hair loss. However, Seraphina was the complete opposite of Patch – she made herself at home in the cattery from day one and loved everybody she met.

Seraphina would have been snapped up straight away but had to stay at Millbrook for a few weeks for treatment. This turned out to be a serendipitous stroke of luck as during this time, staff noticed that Patch was very, very keen on Seraphina!

Stolen glances and cat-calls!

Patch&SPatch had started sneaking out of his hidey bed to watch Seraphina play in the corridor and would meow as she walked by.

Staff knew they had to introduce the two. Patch’s shyness lifted immediately when he was around Seraphina. He’d headbutt and groom her for attention. But they also noticed it changed his mood towards them – for the first time he wasn’t running away when the cattery staff went near him!

Seraphina was perfectly happy to spend her days in Patch’s pen too – so they moved in together and officially became a pair.

Love at first miaow

With Seraphina by his side, Patch became one hundred times braver than he used to be. He’d come to staff for attention and started to enjoyed having his chin scratched. He became almost unrecognisable from the scaredy-cat he was before.

The pair’s lust for life was noticed by a local woman who fell for the two tabbies when she visited them in early January. Determined to help the two sweethearts land on their feet, she took them home just a couple of weeks later.

In it for the long-haul

Patch_Seraphina_HomeWe were thrilled to receive a recent update:

“Patch and Seraphina are settling in really well so far. Seraphina has been sleeping on our laps and Patch sits nearby, gradually moving closer each day, which is really good to see.

“His confidence is growing each day and it is very sweet to see how devoted they are to eachother!

“I think a lot of Patch’s progress is testament to the patience and understanding of the RSPCA who laid the groundwork…and we are fortunate to be getting the benefit.”

Can you offer a special animal their fur-ever home?

If you can offer a loving home to one (or two!) of the fantastic animals in our care, head to Find a Pet to track down your purr-fect match.

Veterinary Nurses

Veterinary Nurses are sometimes the unseen workforce in practice and many pet owners still have no idea how important veterinary nurses are to their pet’s care and wellbeing whilst they are at the veterinary practice. Like human nurses, Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) are highly skilled professionals in their own right.

Animals and their caring owners are wonderful to work with and are a huge part of the job. However, some people seem to think that veterinary nursing is all about cuddling fluffy animals while the vet examines them; I can assure you it isn’t always that glamorous! RVNs work very hard caring for our patients, which includes dealing with poo, wee, snot, vomit, blood, body organs, parasites, nasty smells and the occasional challenging patient (& owner!) Veterinary nursing can be extremely emotional and is very often physically demanding, but all of the nurses I know, agree that it is also an extremely rewarding job.

RVNs work alongside Veterinary Surgeons to provide the highest standard of care and treatment for your pet.  The following are just some of the jobs that a veterinary nurse performs on a daily basis

  • Providing skilled supportive care for sick and injured animals
  • Ensuring that patients receive appropriate care while hospitalised
  • Monitoring vital signs, such as temperature, heart rate, pulse and breathing rate
  • Holding and calming animals while a vet examines and treats them
  • Post operative care and check ups
  • Monitoring and maintaining anaesthetics, to ensure your pet is safe and pain-free during his or her operation (Yes, that’s us & not the vets!)
  • “Scrubbing in” to assisting vets with operations
  • Performing minor surgery (minor lump removals, suturing wounds, abscess treatments, skin biopsies, needle aspirates etc)
  • Providing medical treatments
  • Administering medication in the form of tablets, liquids, injections or topical treatments
  • Taking blood samples
  • Calculating dosages, fluid therapy and nutritional requirements
  • Placing intravenous and urinary catheters
  • Administering intravenous fluids
  • Wound management and changing dressings
  • Taking X-rays
  • Recording ECGs
  • Assisting vets to perform diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound and endoscopy
  • Carrying out diagnostic tests for example, urine tests, blood tests, faecal tests and examining samples under a microscope.
  • Supporting pet owners
  • Maintaining and sterilising equipment and instruments
  • Cleaning up after the patients (and the vets!)
  • Keeping the surgery clean and tidy
  • Looking after the needs of and advising the pet owner about the care of their pet

RVN

RVNs also play a very important role in the education of owners with regard to good standards of patient care during their nursing consultations, over the phone, or via blogs and articles such as this one. They can support owners by providing advice and guidance on all aspects of animal care and by offering nursing clinics for services such as

  • General advice on things such as health, growth, training, aging, behaviour, housing, husbandry, weight management & dental care.
  • Nail clipping
  • Emptying Anal glands
  • Microchipping
  • Diabetic monitoring
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Nutritional and feeding requirements
  • Post operative checks and suture removals
  • Wound management and bandage changes
  • Taking routine blood samples
  • Giving medications
  • Cleaning ears
  • Advice before you get a pet and what you should be looking for in a good breeder.

The Skills Necessary To Be A Veterinary Nurse

A strong desire to work with animals and people: Just liking animals is not enough; at times being an RVN can stretch you to your emotional limits and your day to day work may include seeing animals in a great deal of pain, putting an animal to sleep, or dealing with horrific cruelty cases and at all times you have to do what is best for the animal. In just a few minutes you can go from receiving a hug from a client because you have spent that extra bit of time to explain what the problem is with their pet and reassuring them that everything will be ok, to putting an animal to sleep because there is simply isn’t enough money for treatment or it has no home to go to.

Sympathy, compassion and understanding: You need to be able to relate to the owners of the animals as well as understand the animals themselves. You have to remember that the animals you deal with are much loved by their owners and are their best (and sometimes only) friend in the world. If you don’t want to work with people this is not the job for you, you will have to deal with owners as well as their pets, so great ‘people skills’ are essential.

The ability to work hard and commit to your patients and their owners: As a veterinary nurse, if you are in the middle of an operation, dealing with an emergency or talking to an upset owner, you can’t just down tools at the end of your shift. This is not a normal 9-5 job and we often go home thinking about our patients or even end up popping into the surgery to check on them on our days off.

Patience and understanding: Your patients cannot tell you what is wrong with them and some will be in pain and frightened when they visit the practice. Patience is also a requirement when dealing with pet owners (and sometimes your colleagues!).

Intelligence: You will need to be good at maths because you will need to calculate drug and treatment dosages, fluid and nutritional requirements  several times a day. You must have the ability to communicate well with pet owners and colleagues verbally and through writing.

Initiative and problem solving skills: You need to be able to work under your own initiative to get things done – there’s no time for idling around in a busy veterinary practice. You will also need to be able to think of solutions to problems as quickly as possible.

A love of cleaning (yes, seriously!): A huge part of vet nursing is about cleaning; you must keep your patients and their environment clean to prevent the spread of infection and disease.

A supportive network of family and friends: Veterinary nursing is not a very well paid job, despite the qualifications we have and the hard work involved. You may also have to work shifts and some of those could be overnight, on weekends and on bank holidays if your practice provides its own emergency cover.

Kate and bunny

Becoming A Student Veterinary Nurse

Training to become an RVN is intensive and takes between two and four years to complete. A large proportion of this time is spent gaining clinical experience by working in practice, with the rest spent attending college, completing assessments and coursework, many hours of personal study and, of course, passing the theory and practical examinations.

I strongly recommend that anyone who wants to be a veterinary nurse gains plenty of work experience of varying types with animals, prior to applying for a student nursing position or starting a degree course. Work experience can also be a valuable reality check for some people. Many students drop out in their first few months at a veterinary practice because they are totally unprepared for how hard and challenging the work can be.

There are two main routes to becoming a veterinary nurse in the UK and for both routes you will need to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above which include Maths, English and a Science subject.

Vocational Training: If you want to start working in practice straight away, vocational training is probably best for you and will take two to three years to complete. During your training you will be working under the supervision of a clinical coach who may be an RVN or a Veterinary Surgeon and your time will be divided between work in practice (paid or unpaid) and attending college once a week or on block release (several weeks at a time). You will first need to gain employment as a student nurse at an approved training practice (a website link can be found at the end of this article) and they will then register you with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and at a training college. At the end of this type of training you will receive a level 3 diploma in veterinary nursing.

Higher Education: This is a degree course; it will take longer than a vocational qualification (up to 4 years) and is university based. This course is mostly academic but you will be required to undertake several periods of clinical work placement in an approved training practice.

If you haven’t got the relevant GCSE qualifications, don’t give up hope. It may be possible for you to start out as an Animal Nursing Assistant (also known as veterinary care assistants) in practice and, once qualified, you will have the necessary skills to move on to Student Vet Nurse training. Contact the British Veterinary Nursing Association for more advice (see below). Animal nursing assistants are important members of any veterinary team, they work alongside veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to provide vital care to the patients at the practice.

A Career As A Registered Veterinary Nurse

Many qualified nurses go on to specialise and develop interests in different aspects of animal health, for example surgical nursing, medical nursing, animal behaviour, exotic pet care, alternative therapies (physiotherapy & hydrotherapy), dermatology (skin disorders) and nutrition. Some RVNs also go on to achieve a Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas, BSc Degrees or an MSc in their specialist areas of veterinary nursing.

RVNs may choose to embark on a career in nursing and work in small animal practice, equine practice, large animal practice, universities, specialist referral centres, zoos or wildlife centres. They may take on a veterinary practice management role, become practice owners, become pharmaceutical or nutritional company representative or follow a career in education and become college tutors and lecturers teaching the next generation of veterinary nurses.

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Veterinary Nurse Salary

As I mentioned before, despite our qualifications and all of the hard work we do, it is not a job that is paid particularly well in some places. Salary for a qualified nurse tends to depend upon the size, type and location of the practice you work for. The average annual salary for an RVN is around £14,500 – £20,000*, although this may increase over time depending on your skills, experience and any extra qualifications you may gain.

The average annual salary for student VNs is approximately £14,000* a year, however this may not include your training, college or exam fees depending on the veterinary practice you work for and some training practices do not pay student nurses at all!

What Do The Different Uniform Colours Mean?

Traditionally qualified veterinary nurses wear bottle green tunics (or dresses), with student nurses in striped green and nursing assistants in lilac, however, many practices around the UK have their own colour schemes for uniforms (for example the PDSA nurses are usually in blue tunics) . VN Uniforms

How Do You Know If A Veterinary Nurse Is Qualified And Listed ?

Sadly the title of veterinary nurse is not yet a protected one, which means that anyone can call themselves as veterinary nurse, even if they have not trained or passed any exams! The only way you can tell if your veterinary nurse is qualified and/or registered is by the badge they wear and by checking to see if they are on the RCVS veterinary nurse register (a link can be found below).

Badges

Useful Links

  • For more information about training to become a veterinary nurse and what qualifications you will need please visit the British Veterinary Nursing Association website 
  • To find an approved training practice please visit the RCVS Website
  • For information about higher education routes into veterinary nursing please visit  the UCAS website
  • For more information about the Code of Professional Conduct that qualified veterinary nurses must adhere to please visit the RCVS Website
  • To check if your veterinary nurse is registered with the RCVS visit RCVS VN List

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