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If you love animals and have a natural aptitude for science, you might be considering a career in veterinary medicine, so here are the steps you could take to become a vet surgeon.

Looking for a career with cats? You might be surprised to find that there are plenty of career paths for those with a love of all things feline. Our latest blog series focuses on cat-based careers – from what its like to be a Veterinary Nurse, to how to become a Cat Care Assistant.

In the second instalment, we meet Dr Sarah Elliot, a Veterinary Surgeon based at the National Cat Centre.

Sarah Elliott, vet, with her tabby and white cat

What inspired you to become a veterinary surgeon?

I had aspired to become a vet ever since I was old enough to know the job existed. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have plenty of pets in the home and I knew I would love to have a job working with animals when I was older. I came from a particularly cat-friendly household and cats have been a big part of my life ever since. I really enjoyed school and from an early age I decided I wanted to try to do well enough with my exams to give myself the best chance of getting into vet school later on.


How did you become a veterinary surgeon?

At 12, I managed to get a day’s work experience with my local vet. I found out that not only did I need to have top grades in maths, physics, chemistry and biology but I also needed to have plenty of work experience with animals as well. There is a lot of competition for places at university to study veterinary medicine and the more extra-curricular activities I could do to make my application stand out, the better. I got a Saturday job at the local veterinary practice cleaning the surgical instruments and mopping the floor.

I spent my Sundays at my local Blue Cross rescue shelter, where they set me to work feeding and cleaning out the rabbits and guinea pigs; a low-risk role for a teenager versus being around the slightly more unpredictable dogs and cats! In my school holidays I spent a lot of time helping out at the local riding centre. One summer I got a job at a racing yard and I even got the chance to go out on morning exercise rides – exhilarating as well as often terrifying!

In the end I got the GCSE and A-level results I needed and this lead to an offer of a place to study veterinary medicine at The Royal Veterinary College, London.


What is the best thing about being a veterinary surgeon?

Studying for my degree was an absolute pleasure. The course is so varied and hands-on that there was never a dull moment. Going into small animal practice, daily contact with animals has been a huge perk. Being able to put animals back together again is fantastic and memories of my first successfully treated patients will always stay with me. Over time, my career has led me into charity veterinary practice and has allowed me to develop a more focussed interest in feline medicine. I am currently studying towards becoming an advanced practitioner in feline medicine. Ten years later, I am still really enjoying being a vet.


For more information on working for Cats Protection, click here to go to our careers site.

Visit the blog next week to meet Dom and find out what life is like as a Cat Behaviourist. To find out how to become a Cat Care Assistant, click here to meet Avril.

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