Dr. Shelby Neely is the Veterinarian behind Ask The Cat Doctor. Many Floppycats’ readers have been referring to her Facebook page with cat health questions that come up, so I decided to reach out to Dr. Neely and learn more about her! Thank you Dr. Neely for the interview!
How did you get into Veterinary care?
I began my career life in Music. I had a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a Master’s degree in music education. I was living in New York City playing the piano, teaching piano, and producing a cable tv series about piano playing when I realized I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do. I had been rescuing stray cats for years and had several of them living with me, and I literally sat up in the middle of the night one night and thought “I have to become a cat doctor”. From the beginning, it was only about cats for me, although I love all animals and had to learn about all animals in veterinary school. Becoming a veterinarian required my going back to school for 2 and 1/2 years of science courses before I could even apply to vet school and then I had 4 years of vet school. I was married with young children along the way and it wasn’t always easy, but it was worth every moment of the struggle.
Where do you practice Veterinary care?
I owned a feline veterinary hospital in the suburbs of Philadelphia for 20 years. Toward the end of that time, I was becoming more and more involved on the internet, providing information to cat parents all around the world, and I finally closed my hospital to devote more time to my internet business. I continue to see patients in the Philadelphia area, but through house calls only. House calls are a wonderful way to help cats. It allows many cats to get exams that would otherwise never be brought into the hospital and it gives me the opportunity to see them in their own environment, which helps greatly in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral disorders.
How many cats do you have now?
I have 10 cats. I didn’t intend to ever have that many again (many years ago I had 14) and I don’t recommend it, but when I closed the hospital, there were 4 hospital cats for whom I couldn’t find homes. Many of my cats have special needs or were a bit feral and I couldn’t put them through the trauma of adjusting to a new person. One cat has feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, one is hyperthyroid, one is diabetic and one has early kidney insufficiency. They, of course, are all adorable and all get along well with each other.
You operate the website askthecatdoctor.com – what made you start it?
As the internet become popular and veterinarians started to see that they needed websites, I joined in and put up my first website. Its intention was to serve the needs of my own local clients. However, as time went on, I began to hear from readers from all over and started answering their questions. From there, it continued to grow as I developed a real passion for providing cat information to cat lovers around the world.
What are some of the highlights of askthecatdoctor.com? What pages would you suggest visiting first?
askthecatdoctor.com has over 1800 pages of cat health information. I strongly suggest readers use the search box available on every page because it is not apparent at first glance just how much information I have on the site. There’s practically nothing about cats that you can’t find mentioned if you use the search box. We also have two stores, a cat lovers gift shop and a cat supplies store where readers can see the cat products that I recommend. All proceeds from both shops help to keep the website free and growing and help to allow me to continue to answer questions at no charge. In addition, we have a monthly giveaway which features some pretty cool products for cats. I suggest new visitors read the home page and also the page at www.askthecatdoctor.com/askthecatdoctor.html so they know how to submit a question. I do not charge for answering questions, but they must be submitted in the correct locations.
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What’s the most common cat question people have?
There are two common questions actually. They initially involve the same thing – the owners gives a description of the symptoms her cat is displaying and they either (1) ask if the cat needs to be seen by a vet right away or (2) they want to know how they can treat the cat at home regardless of how ill he is due to a lack of funds to allow them to go to the vet. The latter is very sad. 99% of those questions describe cats that are extremely ill and will die if they only receive home care.
What does the future hold for askthecatdoctor.com?
Many exciting things! My ability to reach out to more cat parents just expanded with the addition our radio show which launched three weeks ago. Cat lovers can listen live and even call in with questions every Thursday from 8 to 9 pm EST at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/askthecatdoctor
I also have several books in the works and a possible internet tv show. The opportunities to help cats are endless!