Dr Kim Q&A
Why do you just work with cats?
I came to cats via elephants, goats and pigs. I trained at Sydney Uni and got my degree (BVSc) in 1982. During my training, I ‘fell in love' with goats (particularly angoras) and pigs. Elephant vets are a rare necessity, so I decided to work with more frequently encountered animals. I went to England to work with sheep and goats. However, I drifted into ‘companion animal’ practice (especially after realising that all ‘large animal’ vets have bad backs...). Cats seemed to be neglected back in the 1980’s – not much you could do for a sick cat, though they were very good surgical patients and could heal almost any trauma. I started to ‘dig deeper’ into feline medicine, and discovered an affinity both with cats and their owners. It took a further 10 years to bring all the necessary ingredients together to form the Cat Clinic, but eventually it was opened in 1994, first as East Chatswood Cat Clinic, then as Chatswood Cat Central, now I am just plain Dr Kim Kendall Cat Vet.
What about elephants?
We (husband John Linquist) went to Zimbabwe to work for six months in 1991, and went ‘game watching’ in many of the parks in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. There is no equivalent to seeing an elephant in the African bush, but intervention causes more harm than good many times, and we came away with an awareness of elephant ecology, but no ‘hands on’ vet work. We had an interlude in the USA, working on Cape Cod for 18 months (and going whale watching on weekends), and during that time became friends with the vet who looked after the animals at Ringling Bros. Circus. We got to ride the circus elephants through the streets of Boston – twice. Unsurpassed experience! More recently we have assisted in preventing the deaths of rare Sumatran Elephants, Tigers and Elephants by part-funding a project in the Sumatran Wildlife Reserve of Way Kambas. Water wells, abandoned and left open when villagers were translocated out of the wildlife area, were trapping and killing these exquisite animals. But no more - the Well Project has been completed. A female Sumatran tigress called Dara has been a recent victim of snaring. She has lost a bit of both front feet, but with care and a sanctuary set aside for her and others, this rare WILD life can be saved. For more information (and a donation should you so desire) see: http://siesfund.org/saving-dara-the-tiger
And for more in the Conservation field
Ever heard of Environmental Green Points? Some years ago, the East Chatswood Cat Clinic financed the purchase of 34 acres in the Atherton tablelands. The area backs onto a World Heritage site and was to be logged. It is now safe from logging and the Queensland Government has requested survey access as it is an important Cassowary corridor, as well as a supporting other endangered species. Even better, the trees are pumping oxygen back into our environment. Which means that your support of the Cat Clinic provides the land for 1,500 tonnes of trees to breath oxygen back into the atmosphere. So (drawing a long bow) caring for your cat at the Cat Clinic counteracts the effects of your car’s consumption of about 300 litres of fuel each year. Imagine that!
But what do you do every day?
Dr Kim continues with the calm pursuit of excellence in Feline Medicine and Feline Health - mental and physical! She is mindful that we humans have changed cats’ environment so much - from solo desert-dwelling rodent hunter to City Gods and Goddesses. Dr Kim is also doing more ‘cat only’ seminars and webinars - as the Cat AdvoCAT. City existence is strange to cats, however with a little environmental modification, we can make cats much, much happier (and it’s surprisingly simple to achieve). The interplay between environment and disease, between the Mind and the Medicine, is becoming clearer as time passes. While the cats have not changed much, we have changed almost everything around them. Cats are VERY adaptable, and VERY flexible (physically at least!), but sometimes the coping mechanisms fail. That is when we get pee-mail link to The Cat isn'y using the Litter Tray, HELP! and Dr Kim is finding that cats do, in fact, have enough brain power to get psychosomatic illnesses - like cystitis! Link to Anxious Cats So the message is: The Mind Matters to the Medicine, and a few Questions in Time will Save Nine Lives! As always, it is the interface of felines and their human friends that needs clarifying. They send us messages, which, once interpreted and acted on, create a better environment for the cat and then their owner! Dr Kim has been presenting seminar papers at the prestigious Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists on feline behaviour and medicine topics for a few years now, and also presented papers at the International Veterinary Behaviour Meetings, starting with this one Selecting Kittens and Cats for Adoption.
Where to from here?
We are very proud of having created the prototype Cat Adoption Centre which is now in 100 other veterinary clinics. The closer bond that we all form by being ‘foster parents’ to all the kittens that we sent out, with love, to their new owners, gives a real sense of community in this ‘rat race’ and often superficial modern world. This sense of belonging is one we try to share with all our clients, no matter where their cats come from, and understanding, as they do, that humans are here for the benefit of cats... Dr Kim is now working hard to improve the integration of cats into Urban Society. As W. George pointed out, cats get food without effort, shelter without confinement and love without penalties.