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If you are a vet student enrolled at one of the universities in the UK and are looking for a shelter-focused week of clinical Extra Mural Studies (EMS), then a week-long rotation at our National Cat Centre in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex or a two-week dual placement at one of our adoption centre vet practices across the country is for you.

In practice, you are highly likely to treat cats housed in rescue centres and knowledge of shelter medicine and a pragmatic treatment and management approach will be invaluable when dealing with these cases. Hundreds of thousands of cats are helped by the various national and independent rescue establishments in the UK every year and the appropriate management and provision of veterinary care can improve the health of the national herd through optimal husbandry, treatment and rehoming strategies.

Placement experience at Cats Protection

In a survey 94% of UK veterinary practices indicated they were involved in some form of rescue charity work. Veterinary care of cats in rescue centres is both challenging and rewarding, and requires consideration of many elements that can be very different to treating owned animals. During a placement at Cats Protection’s National Cat Centre, students may gain experience in the following areas:

  • small animal herd health and epidemiology
  • pre-pubertal neutering (please note, this is not a surgically heavy placement)
  • a wide variety of infectious disease diagnosis, treatment, control and prevention
  • veterinary care of pregnant queens and neonates
  • feline behaviour
  • kitten socialisation
  • charity policies ethics and the roles within large organisations
  • environmental enrichment, housing considerations, centre design and operation
  • cat handling
  • feline husbandry, nutrition, hygiene and cleaning regimes
  • public health protection
  • interaction with cattery staff, head office staff and volunteers

Two-week EMS placement at Cats Protection

Cats Protection also offers a two-week hybrid EMS placement for clinical year veterinary students. The placement will be based at a first opinion veterinary practice, who provide veterinary services to one of our centres. 

During your placement, you will attend the vet run with our Cats Protection vet, either once or twice a week at our designated centre. These are when the attending veterinary surgeon performs examinations/minor procedures on the cats in care. You will also spend an extra afternoon with our centre team over the course of your placement, gaining an insight into how the centre works and cares for cats, and learning about our biosecurity protocols. Additional learning opportunities are available in the form of a shelter medicine workbook and access to online learning. 

The rest of the placement will be spent at the designated veterinary practice. You will observe and participate in the Cats Protection cases presented for surgery or other procedures. You will also be involved in the first opinion cases which come through the practice. 

These placements are suited to students with a special interest in charity and shelter medicine and contextualised care.

When to apply

Our clinical placements run from January to December and you can apply by submitting an application form at the beginning of the previous autumn term. From mid-September we make new application forms available to the EMS team at your university, or you can obtain one at that time by emailing us directly. Applications close at the end of October.

Contact information

If you are interested in completing your clinical EMS placement with Cats Protection or would like further information or an application form, please do get in touch with us by emailing  

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