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    Careers with Cats

    Careers with Cats

    Saving one cat won't change the world but it will change the world for that cat. ~Author Unknown

    Most cat owners have at one time or another declared that they would love nothing more than to stay home all day and be with their cats. The next best thing is a career that allows you to work with felines. In recent years, the number of new career opportunities has mushroomed beyond expectations thanks to the phenomenal growth in the pet industry, which has been fueled by the "humanization" of our pets and the desire to give our cats a lifestyle that mimics our own (see The Humanization of Our Pets, page 502). Consequently, cat-related career and job opportunities are many and varied. Some require study; others are born out of ingenuity and necessity as the result of being around felines and understanding their wants and needs, and these have spawned many cottage industries. It is interesting to note many careers, commercial enterprises, and industries linked to pets have proven to be more "recession-proof" than other spheres of the economic sector. Pet industry insiders like Bob Vetere, who heads the American Pet Products Association (APPA), believe this is because, in times of hardship, many people turn to their pets for stress relief, love, and affection and so will cut back on their own necessities to purchase items and health care to ensure that their pets' well-being isn't compromised. Too often, though, despite their best efforts, people simply can't afford to care for their pets. As a result, the numbers of pets being turned into shelters rises, which in turn opens new doors to those who want to dedicate their time to helping pets in need. Because of all the new doors being opened up in the industry, it's becoming easier for people to direct their wide and varied educational skills into newfound pet-related careers, whether they are looking for full- or part-time employment, want to work in an office or workplace environment, or simply want to work from home with their own cats to "help" with everyday tasks.

    Many cat owners dream of a having a career involving felines.

    Humanization of Our Pets

    Not that long ago, a spa day for your cat that included a moisturizing bath, massage, and peticure or perhaps a dinner of New Zealand canned venison served to your favorite feline in a stylish raised bowl were simply considered gimmicks. Now, this imagery is simply a reflection of family life in many cat homes across America. The keyword is family. According to various pet-related surveys recently commissioned and published by such diverse sources as business strategists and pet-manufacturing companies such as Hartz Mountain Corporation and Del Monte Foods, the majority of pet owners in this country now call themselves "pet parents." Consequently, many cats (and dogs) have lifestyles that mirror their pet parents' own health and well-being ideals. Thus, the "gimmicks" have morphed into a full-fledged trend aptly labeled pet humanization. According to Michael Schaeffer, author of the book One Nation Under Dog, a well-researched look at our love affair with our pets, pet humanization is an almost inevitable reaction to our times. "A century ago, domestic cats and dogs were kept for economic reasons as guard dogs or rat catchers. Now, most people keep pets for love. So we apply the same instincts to caring and nurturing them as we do for our kids. And, since the way we nurture kids has changed a bit-we go for more natural food and less punishing education, we work longer hours and thus rely more on daycare-so has the way we nurture our pets."In a 2011 study published by the Hartz Mountain Corporation of Secaucus, New Jersey, a company with an eighty-five-year-old history in the pet industry, 65 percent of the respondents felt that their pet's personality was far more important that its physical appearance or pedigree.

    Nutrition and health care are two categories in the pet world that have possibly experienced the biggest impact from pet humanization. With nutrition being so important to people, a strong upward trend has emerged in the demand for premium, natural, and organic foods and treats for cats, too. And when it comes to general cat care, people are seeking out luxury and pampering for their cats just as they are in their own personal health care treatments. Other areas strongly reflecting pet humanization include vitamins and supplements, especially those targeting our aging pets. Business strategist Mike Dillon, who also publishes annual surveys monitoring the pet industry, believes that, in fact, we are past talking about humanization because pets are already ubiquitous in American culture and business. He believes we are already on the next phase, which is integration, and that this phase will mature over the next three years (2013–2015). In this next stage, Dillon predicts that more industries not traditionally associated with pets will begin appealing to pet owners, extending popular brands and products into the pet segment. Traditional category boundaries will blur as integration spurs products that cross segment definitions. And there will also be more cultural and legal changes to reflect the status of pets.And, on the subject of the way pet companionship affects human health, Dillon says that the integration of pets into health and wellness programs has already begun. Pet therapy is widely recognized across America, and studies like the one that claims cat owners are 40 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack are being taken seriously

    His forecast is already finding roots in reality with the formation of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI), designed to form a central database for all research relating to the human–animal bond. The organization was officially launched at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, in March 2011. Its founding sponsors are the American Pet Products Association, Pfizer Animal Health, and PETCO. The central database, known as HABRI Central, is with Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The goal of HABRI is to be an umbrella organization that will support multidisciplinary research on the human–animal bond by providing scientific evidence for informed decisions in human health and pet ownership. Currently, there is a lot of anecdotal information than needs to be scientifically explored. The organization's work will focus on communicating with and educating Congress about the importance of providing $30 million to create a Human Animal Bond Research Center at the National Institute of Health and to continue to inform and educate the general public on the health benefits of pet ownership.The ultimate goal of HABRI, of course, is to promote pet ownership by pet lovers, expanding pet families and introducing the idea of having fur kids to people who may never have considered bringing a pet into their lives before

    Veterinary Care

    From veterinarian to veterinary technician, technologist, and assistant, to animal chiropractor, there are many career options to consider in the field of veterinary medicine.

    Veterinarian

    Veterinary medicine is an obvious choice for a dedicated cat person. There are twenty-eight veterinary schools in the United States; each one has an excellent reputation both within this country and around the world. To earn the letters DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine) or VMD (veterinary medical doctor, the degree granted by the University of Pennsylvania) behind your name takes eight years of college study but requires a lifetime of continued learning.

    US Veterinary Medical Schools and Colleges

    • Auburn University
    • Colorado State University
    • Cornell University
    • Iowa State University
    • Kansas State University
    • Louisiana State University
    • Michigan State University
    • Mississippi State University
    • North Carolina State University
    • Ohio State University
    • Oklahoma State University
    • Oregon State University
    • Purdue University
    • Texas A&M University
    • Tufts University
    • Tuskegee University
    • University of California, Davis
    • University of Florida
    • University of Georgia
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • University of Minnesota
    • University of Missouri
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • University of Tennessee
    • University of Wisconsin–Madison
    • Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
    • Washington State University
    • Western University of Health Sciences

    Modern Veterinary Practice

    Veterinary medicine has benefited in so many ways from the state-of-the-art techniques and drugs developed for humans that veterinarians today have an enormous range of tools to give cats the best possible treatment to promote their health and general care. Veterinarians have fabulous opportunities to study further and qualify in specialized fields such as veterinary dentistry, orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, and ophthalmology. The majority of veterinarians work in private practice, whether it's a small facility or a full-scale veterinary hospital that offers everything from X-rays and surgical procedures to a variety of postoperative care and therapies. Although about 75 percent of all veterinarians work in private practices, the rest work in a variety of other venues. Many work for drug manufacturers or large pet food companies and play a major roll in the development of life-saving drugs and feline nutritional ideas that ensure future generations of cats are fed the best diet possible. Others have found themselves starring in animal-related shows on TV or even consulting behind the scenes and being on standby on a movie set. Some veterinarians have successfully turned entrepreneur, using their veterinary knowledge and expertise to invent gadgets that enhance the practice of veterinary medicine, as well as useful cat-related tools for the home.Although most of the animals seen in private veterinarian practice are dogs and cats, most veterinarians must also be capable of treating a variety of small critters, including birds and reptiles. There are, however, veterinarians who specialize within species, too; for example, veterinarians can opt to work exclusively with farm animals while others opt to work exclusively with cats. In recent years, the number of feline-only practices has grown considerably around the world. There is even an association looking after the interests of such specialists, the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

    Is Being a Vet Right for You?

    Apart from knowing that it's going to take nearly a decade to qualify, potential veterinary students have to have the right personality for the job. Veterinary practice can involve long hours, the making of life-and-death decisions, and the emotional realization that no matter how qualified and skilled you are, there are times when it's not possible to save an animal that's sick or has been severely injured. There are also times when it's necessary to euthanize an animal. Most veterinarians say that is the most difficult part of the job. Further, apart from a deep caring and love of animals, a veterinarian needs to have excellent people skills, including a good "bedside manner" and the ability to be a good listener, to instill confidence and trust in those who are entrusting him or her with the care of their beloved pets. Above all, a great veterinarian needs to be very sensitive to a pet owner's grief.

    Veterinary medicine is an obvious choice for a dedicated cat person, although the educational requirements are rigorous.

    The Long Road to a DVM

    For a young person interested in a career in veterinary medicine, it's a good idea to start preparing while still in high school because the college classes that veterinary students need to pass are very science- and math-focused. Therefore, high school students who take chemistry, biology, physics, and calculus, as well as other science and math courses, will have an easier time in college. By taking these classes, they are also more likely to be accepted into the college of their choice. After graduating from high school, the next step is to embark on a four-year undergraduate degree. Although most students who are admitted to veterinary school have earned a bachelor's degree, this is not always a requirement. However, these schools require all students to complete a number of specialized college classes. Core subjects required vary from school to school but generally include zoology (the study of animals), biology (the study of life and living organisms), inorganic chemistry (the study of the synthesis and behavior of inorganic and organometallic compounds), physics (the study of matter and energy and their interactions), organic chemistry (the study of substances produced by living organisms), biochemistry (the chemistry of living things), genetics (the study of hereditary), microbiology (the study of living organisms that can be seen only under a microscope), and English. Increasingly, courses in general business management and career development have become a standard part of the curriculum to teach new graduates how to effectively run a practice.

    The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, based in Washington, DC, lists all the accredited colleges in this country and in Canada, as well as in other parts of the world. It also has the enrollment forms for these colleges on its website and thus is an excellent resource for background information and the requirements needed to enter this profession. Admission is tough, and although schools may that state their GPA requirement is between 2.5 to 3.2, students with a 3.0 or higher are usually the ones accepted. You also stand a better chance if you are a resident of a state that has a public statefunded veterinary college because the admission policies at these schools favor state residents. In addition to satisfying pre-veterinary course requirements, applicants must submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), depending on the preference of the college to which they are applying. The four years spent at a veterinary school are divided into two phases. The first phase is academic and involves two years of intense science-related study. Students take classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology. Much of the time is spent in classrooms and in college laboratories. In addition, there's a lot of research to be done, assignments to be written, and study work for exams. Because of the heavy workload, it is common for veterinary students to work and study at all hours of the day and night, including weekends.

    The second half of veterinary school is the clinical phase. Students continue attending classes to learn about animal diseases, surgery, and other scientific and medical subjects. They also begin to apply what they have learned by working in an animal hospital or clinic. Most veterinary schools have teaching hospitals right on their campuses. These are actual clinics where people can take their pets for treatment. Under the supervision of instructors (who are licensed veterinarians), students gain hands-on experience. They learn how to give examinations, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries, and perform surgery.During the fourth and final year, students do clinical rotations, which allow them to work with many different types of veterinarians. They may observe and assist veterinary surgeons, dermatologists, oncologists, and ophthalmologists, as well as other specialists. Students also experience veterinary specialties such as aquatic medicine, exotic-animal medicine, and zoo-animal medicine. In most cases, veterinary students are not required to complete an internship during their college training. However, many choose to do so to gain valuable work experience. Students who want to specialize in a particular type of animal or area of medicine must usually complete a one-year internship after veterinary school.Before graduates can practice veterinary medicine, they must be licensed with the state in which they plan to work. This certifies them as a DVM or VMD. Then they may set up their own practice or join a practice with other veterinarians. Yet, even though they have finished school, their education does not end there. To keep up with the latest knowledge and technology, veterinarians must read scientific journals and participate in professional seminars and workshops. Many states also require veterinarians to take educational courses to keep their licenses current. There are also lots of annual veterinary conferences held around the country that keep those in the profession up to date on the latest state-of-the-art gadgets and surgical techniques.

    Veterinary students attend school for four years in addition to their undergraduate program.

    Veterinarian's Oath

    (Adopted by the AVMA in November 1999, reaffirmed in April 2004)Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

    Veterinary Technician/Technologist

    Many observers liken some of the work that veterinary technicians and technologists do for a veterinarian in a clinic, including routine laboratory and clinical procedures, to that done by nurses for a physician in a human medical practice or hospital. However, they also point out that the technicians and technologists do more in a clinic than a nurse would in an office, including assisting in dentistry, radiology, and surgery. Although they perform the same tasks, veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists have different levels of education. Veterinary technicians are required to study for a two-year associate degree from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)–accredited community college with a program in veterinary technology. Veterinary technologists sign on for a four-year AVMA-accredited program. There are 131 AVMA-accredited veterinary technology programs in forty-four states. Students graduating from these programs can take their final credential exam, known as the Veterinary Technician National Examination, in any state in the country. However, once they are working in their chosen field, they are both usually referred to as veterinary technicians.

    Once qualified, their work can be in a private practice, animal hospital, or a research laboratory. Technologists and technicians usually begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. In a private practice, as they gain more experience, they will perform various medical tests, such as urinalysis and blood counts, prepare tissue samples, and take blood samples, as well as assist veterinarians in a variety of tests and analyses involving the use of medical and diagnostic equipment. They will also assist with routine dental prophylaxis done on cats. Other duties can include taking and developing X-rays and providing specialized nursing care. They will also be allowed to obtain and record patients' case histories and discuss a pet's condition with its owners. In addition to working in private practices and animal hospitals, veterinary technicians can work in research facilities, where they administer medications orally or topically, prepare samples for laboratory examinations, and record information on an animal's genealogy, diet, weight, medications, food intake, and clinical signs of pain and distress. Other duties can include sterilizing laboratory equipment and providing postoperative care. Because veterinarian technicians work alongside veterinarians, their work can also be physically demanding if they have to help restrain animals and emotionally stressful because they work directly with sick, injured, and abused animals, especially if the practice they work in has a care relationship with animals shelters and rescue organizations. In some animal hospitals, research facilities, and animal shelters, a veterinary technician is on duty twentyfour hours a day, which means that some may work night shifts.

    According to the 2012–13 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow much faster than the average of all occupations through the year 2018. One of the reasons cited to spur this employment growth is that pet owners are becoming more affluent (because they are not spending money on human children) and, because of the humanization of pets, they are more willing to pay for advanced care. Furthermore, the rapidly growing number of cats as companion pets is expected to boost the demand for feline medicine and services. However, records continue to show that dogs visit the veterinarian's office more often than cats do.

    Pre-Studies for Vet Tech

    Anyone interested in pursuing the vet tech career path is advised to take as many high school science, biology, and math courses as possible. Science courses taken beyond high school, in an associate's or bachelor's degree program, should emphasize practical skills in a clinical or laboratory setting.

    Being a veterinary technician is quite rewarding, and the requirements are not as daunting as those for becoming a veterinarian.

    Veterinary Assistant

    A veterinary assistant is someone who works in a veterinary office doing a variety of nonmedical tasks that are essential to the everyday working and functioning of a private practice or animal hospital. The position has neither educational requirements nor any national or state licensing procedures; the veterinary assistant learns the ropes through on-the-job training. Typical duties include feeding, watering, monitoring, and exercising animals; cleaning and disinfecting work and cage areas; and sterilizing all surgical and laboratory equipment. For long-time employees, tasks can be extended to include limited postoperative care, the administration of medication both orally or topically, and the preparation of laboratory samples for examination under the supervision of either a veterinary technician or a veterinarian.

    A veterinary assistant may not do a lot of glamorous work, but they are essential to the smooth operation of a vet practice.

    Animal Chiropractor

    Chiropractic has always been an integral part of holistic health care for both people and their pets but was often considered an alternative approach at best, only to be undertaken if mainstream treatments failed. In the past decade, however, veterinarians have come to regard it as more mainstream, recommending such treatments for their patients and referring them to qualified animal chiropractors. Many veterinarians have even gone on to study this modality themselves.The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. It emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) requires anyone wanting to study animal chiropractics to already be a qualified doctor of chiropractic and/or a doctor of veterinary medicine. Students of these professions currently enrolled in their last semester/trimester of study are allowed to enroll and learn this modality concurrently with their other studies. Courses are offered by the Options for Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, a private postsecondary educational institution based in Wellsville, Kansas, and accredited by the Kansas Board of Regents and the US Department of Education.

    The course consists of classroom and home study. Classroom study consists of a minimum of 210 hours of lecture and laboratory sessions. Classroom instruction is offered in a modular format; there are five modules, each module running for about four and a half days. Students average eight to ten hours of home study with each modular. All class and home study progress is monitored by written and practical examinations. The five modules must be completed within a two-year period; some students go straight through, however, and complete the modules within five weeks. The practice of animal chiropractic includes taking a thorough case history consisting of subjective information from the owner and information determined from examinations and X-rays, as well as previous diagnoses and therapies. The animal chiropractor will do a hands-on examination of the patient prior to any spinal, extremity, or cranial adjustments. Animal chiropractors usually work with horses, dogs, and cats. This type of treatment has been found to benefit animals that have sustained an injury or suffer from arthritis. Animal chiropractors usually go to their patients' homes or, if they work with a veterinarian, will make special arrangements to treat your cat at the veterinarian's office.

    Animal chiropractors learn to interpret radiographs and use them to decide on appropriate treatment.

    Feline Well-Being

    Apart from of the trend toward pet humanization, there is a genuine interest in trying to understand our feline friends and learn more about why they do what they do in our homes. Consequently, feline behaviorists have an important role to play in everyday cat care, as do groomers and animal massage therapists, who can help improve a cat's general health and well-being through the services and treatments they have to offer.

    Animal Behaviorist

    The work of an animal behaviorist with regard to domestic cats involves observing and treating feline behavior problems that exist in the home environment. Typical problems include intercat aggression, destructive scratching, and inappropriate urination. Cats who display such behavioral issues are often relinquished to shelters and, sadly, if it happens to be a kill shelter, they are euthanized. The work of an animal behaviorist is to resolve these issues and help the cat remain in her home. The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) was the first organization in the United States to offer a certification program for applied animal behaviorists giving the applicants the right to call themselves Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists. There are now two other ways to get certified. The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is an international organization headquartered in Pennsylvania that represents the professional interests of behavior consultants throughout the world. Certified members qualify in one or more species-specific divisions, including dogs, cats, horses, and parrots. All IAABC-certified members are required to procure a minimum of thirty continuing education units (CEUs) every two years, beginning with the year of certification, to ensure that they remain up to date in their education. At the time of this writing, there are only fifty-two AABC-certified applied animal behaviorists in the United States.

    The third option is to study to be a veterinary behaviorist and be certified through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. A veterinary behaviorist is a veterinarian with a special interest in animal behavior. Veterinary behaviorists have either completed residency programs after graduating from veterinary school or have done additional training and passed exams set by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. These veterinary behaviorists are known as board-certified diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.A veterinary behaviorist is licensed to diagnose and treat problems in animals, whether they are medical or behavioral, and consequently can prescribe drugs and psychotropic medications (tranquilizers and antidepressants). Animal behaviorists work by visiting the home and working with both the cat and the owner. Alternatively, they can dispense advice telephonically for a fee and follow up with subsequent phone calls. Some veterinary schools also run behavior clinics.Each of the three organizations listed operate comprehensive websites detailing educational information and links to their member directories. These are the Animal Behavior Society (www.animalbehaviorsociety.org), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (www.iaabc.org), and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (www.dacvb.org).

    Groomer

    Not only are professional groomers responsible for maintaining a pet's overall appearance from head to tail, but by the very nature of the profession, they also have the best opportunity to evaluate a pet's skin and coat, ears, dental hygiene, and nails and must be able to recognize any possible medical issues and convey this information to the client, suggesting that they seek veterinary attention. Therefore, individuals entering this profession should have a good working knowledge of the health and anatomy of the animals they plan to groom. Groomers should also have great people skills because it's important to establish a good relationship with a pet's owner. Initially, groomers only specialized in dogs, but, over the years, many have started to take on feline clients, too. However, because the number of cats that visit groomers are still a minority, plus the fact that owners of show cats usually prefer to do their own grooming, it may be difficult to make a living exclusively as a cat groomer. A lot will depend on your location; that is, whether you live in a community that will want such grooming services. There are some feline-only grooming salons and mobile feline grooming services located around the country; do a search online to get an idea of the places where they are doing business. As more people become aware that such services exist, there is definitely room for growth in this industry.

    The first cat grooming standards specified within the grooming industry were set by the National Cat Grooming Institute of America (NCGIA) in 2007 to meet the needs of already certified dog groomers wishing to practice safer and better quality cat grooming, as well as for people wishing to specialize in feline-only grooming services. The NCGIA offers hands-on instruction as well as video, lecture, and written materials. Certification is earned upon completion of the hands-on classes and the exams that have been created to meet those standards. The course material covers a wide range of subjects including feline temperaments, coat types, colors, and patterns. The grooming elements include how to perform breed-specific face trims, the best order in which to apply a grooming routine, knowledge of grooming tools and equipment, and advice on operating a feline-only grooming service. The grooming school run by the NCGIA is situated in Greenville, South Carolina. The school is fully equipped with state-of-the-art grooming equipment necessary to groom cats effectively. The best way to train is to attend a two-week course offered at the school. However, students can also get their certification by attending workshops combined with a home study program. Both written and practical exams can be taken at the end of the course or at any of the two three-day workshops held by the organization throughout the year. Written exams can also be taken at any trade show at which the NCGIA is in attendance. Some trade shows also allow for practical exams to be administered as well.

    Certification with the accreditation of certified master cat groomer is also available through the Professional Cat Groomers Association of America (PCGAA). To obtain this title, you have to take ten courses and pass ten exams, with a passing grade of 85 percent or higher. The course can be studied at home, and examinations are conducted at the PCGAA Headquarters in Fairview Park, Ohio, at private grooming salons, and at other locations, and they are held throughout the year. Because no governmental authority requires a groomer to have a license to practice, another way to learn the art of grooming is to get hands-on training in a salon as an assistant. This informal apprenticeship can last on average from a month to three months. Trainees start with simple duties, such as bathing and drying, and graduate to learning how to use scissors, combs, razors, and nail clippers. Once you have received adequate training, you can go to work for a feline-only salon, go to work for a general pet salon and become its feline grooming specialist, or, if you have the means, open up your own feline grooming salon. Groomers often work in conjunction with pet boutiques and superstores, animal clinics, and pet hotels. Consequently, they are often required to be a jack of all trades, answering phones, selling products, and, most importantly, dealing with the people on the other end of the leash or, in the case of most feline clients, those toting the carrier.

    However, a groomer who would like to specialize in cats would be well advised to consider operating a mobile grooming salon because many cat owners prefer that the groomer come to them rather than have their cats sit in a cage in a grooming salon. It's important to weigh up the costs of running such a van versus the costs of renting and maintaining premises. State-of-the-art mobile grooming vans are expensive to purchase. The success of any grooming business will depend on the location of the premises or, in the case of the mobile groomer, what competition exists from a standard grooming store. Mobile groomers can potentially do well in small towns, where there is not much competition and where neighbors with pets may get together and book the groomer to come to their street on a certain day.Whatever avenue you pursue for your business, make sure that you have liability insurance. One of the advantages of membership in a professional organization is that it offers advice about insurance plans. (The National Dog Groomers Association of America has a special Professional Liability plan that insures its members against claims resulting from the performance of a member's professional services.)Another advantage is that you have direct access to current information in the profession, which includes active message boards to share ideas and learn from others.

    While some groomers work exclusively with cats, most also groom dogs.

    Groomers often work in conjunction with pet boutiques and superstores, animal clinics, and pet hotels.

    Massage Therapist

    As with groomers, cat massage therapists have seen a rise in opportunities thanks to the growth in the pet care industry and the humanization of our pets. Cat massage therapists often combine several therapies in their treatments. All these therapies can be learned through study classes at pet massage schools and workshops held around the country. Many pet massage therapists work in conjunction with groomers or simply attend to their own clients' needs. Some work from home and others make house calls. In addition to general coat care, many groomers offer their clients massage as well as other services, such as reiki and Tellington touch therapy.The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork was founded as a forum for animal massage and bodywork professionals to network and support each other. The organization covers complementary and alternative veterinary medicine practices (such as acupressure, reiki, polarity, sound/music, healing touch, flower essence, aromatherapy, color and light therapies, and animal communication) and provides its members with information relating to the legal requirements to practice in all fifty states. It also lists training facilities around the country.

    Most pet spas cater to dogs, but there are certainly opportunities for cat-focused spas in some communities.

    Caretakers and Hotel Owners and Staff

    Small and large businesses have arisen to meet the needs of cat owners who must travel and leave their cats behind or simply want to know someone is watching out for their felines during the day while the owners are at work. There are lots of opportunities.

    Cat Sitter

    More and more cat lovers who are not keen to take their cats out of their home environment look to employ the services of a professional cat sitter to take care of their pets' needs on a daily basis. From a pet owner's standpoint, working with a professional gives peace of mind, knowing that such a caretaker will treat the job seriously and not absentmindedly leave doors open (as perhaps a friend or relative might) and allow their feline charge to escape. In-home pet care provides a proven opportunity for entrepreneurs who love working with and caring for companion animals. Consequently, professional pet sitting is one of the fastest-growing home-based businesses in the world. Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world's largest educational association for professional pet sitters; it represents more than 8,000 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada, and abroad. The association helps bring success to its members by giving them access to affordable bonding and liability insurance and to educational resources through the organization's accreditation program. Another organization that offers training help and advice about this profession is the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), a national nonprofit US trade association for individuals with pet-sitting businesses. Its members are both full- and parttime pet sitters. Members are listed in the NAPPS referral network, which can be accessed by pet owners online or via phone. Listing in the referral network is a complimentary benefit. Associates can also purchase bonding, liability, and health insurance at discounted rates.

    Some cat owners require you to simply check in on their pets daily, attend to their food and litter box requirements, and spend some quality time with the pets. Other owners prefer a pet sitter who is prepared to move in and take on the responsibility of the entire household, including the pet's needs. Some cat sitters also perform services such as visiting elderly pet owners on a daily basis to help with cat care. Cat-sitting is the type of profession that can be sculpted to suit your needs and the needs of your clients. Being an independent contractor allows you to work at your own pace and be selective about the jobs you are prepared to undertake.If you want to go in a different direction, rather than being a sole operator you could run a cat-sitting service and employ people to work for you. Some existing pet-sitting businesses offer franchise opportunities that allow you to establish such a service in your neighborhood. The advantage of this is that the parent company helps organize the necessary insurance and licenses that you may need to operate and is on hand to offer business advice and allow you to benefit from the company's expertise. However, running a franchise operation does mean an ongoing financial link to the franchisor. Read the fine print.

    Professional pet sitting is one of the fastest-growing home-based businesses in the world.

    Pet Relocation Specialist

    A pet-relocation specialist is first and foremost a very experienced travel agent registered with the various travel associations. He or she specializes in the relocation of pets around the country and around the world. These specialists handle the documentation and shipping processes from start to finish. They ship pets traveling on their own, as well as plan for passengers and pets relocating together. The job involves lots of paperwork and needs an in-depth knowledge of national and international laws relating to domestic pets, not to mention airline travel policies and medical records required. A pet relocation specialist needs to be an accredited member of the International Airlines Travel Agent Network, an industry association responsible for the standard international codes for airlines, airports, hotels, cities, and car rental firms; a member of the Airlines Reporting Corporation, an airline-owned company serving the travel industry with financial services, data products and services, and ticket distribution; and also a member of the International Pet Animal Transportation Association, Inc. Pet-relocation specialists also require a handling license from the US Department of Agriculture. The training is on the job and involves building up excellent contacts within the industry. Pet-relocation specialists must have lots of patience and great people skills to handle overanxious cat lovers, especially when it comes to travel delays and unforeseen problems.

    Cat Hotel/Day Care Proprietors and Staff

    One of the positive effects of United States' becoming such a pet-friendly nation has been the introduction of fabulous cat hotels and day care facilities around the country. The days of sterile boarding places are definitely over. Running a cat hotel can be fun for a cat lover, and, depending where you operate, you may have celebrity cats like Jay Leno's fur kid checking in when their famous owners have to travel and are unable to take their pets with them.Running a cat hotel can also be financially rewarding. However, the success of such an operation will depend on the proprietor's business background and experience, possibly within the leisure industry. A cat hotel can operate in either a commercial or suburban setting depending on the local laws appertaining to running businesses in an urban area. It is also important to have a relationship with a veterinarian close by who will be on call 24/7 should an emergency situation arise.Cat "suites" consist of individual enclosed areas and must be big enough to house a sleeping zone, food and water, and, of course, a litter box. Many of the upmarket facilities offer kitty condos consisting of two or three levels inside the cage whereby the cat's litter box is completely separated from its food station and bed. Some cat hotels provide TV sets playing cat-sitting videos and even have sealed aquariums so that feline guests can enjoy the entertainment value without eating the "talent."

    Many such establishments are now installing video cams so that pet parents can check in on their felines for themselves from wherever they may be. There must also be an enclosed area with kitty condos and toys where cats can be taken out to stretch and play under strict supervision. Some establishments offer quite elaborate play areas with bird aviaries, large aquariums, and tall trees, where feline guests are offered both mental and physical stimulation. Although most cat hotels take guests for overnight stays, many will offer day care facilities to watch your cat. Any cat hotel advertising such a service will definitely attract business. Cat owners who are moving often need to put their cat in a secure room during the process, and this is definitely an option. Most cat hotels ask their owners to provide their own food. So, you will need a well-organized kitchen facility to store and serve the food and enough refrigeration space to store any medications that guests may be required to take during their stay. There is no limit to the ideas that you can add to your services to make cat owners feel comfortable about having their cat in your care, such as taking photographs and putting them up on your website and even writing a blog about the feline guests. The sky is the limit. No matter how big or small the establishment, you will need to employ caretakers who love cats to help with daily tasks such as feeding and litter box duty, as well as with daily brushing, during which time they are able to interact with the cats so that they are not isolated from human companionship during their stay. If you are not in a position to set yourself up in a business, you can still work in one. In addition to caretakers to assist with daily tasks, a hotel will need to have someone sleeping on the premises at night, too. Working for such an establishment would probably be at the going hourly pay rate. However, if you enjoy working with animals and people, working in such an establishment is worthwhile considering as a second job.

    Petrepreneurs in Commerce

    One of the fastest growing segments in the pet industry relates to cats. Toys and gadgets for feline enrichment and wonderful housewares such as therapeutic pet beds and drinking fountains are popular items, along with pet-centric clothing and accessories for humans. Commercial ventures that cater to this market include traditional pet boutiques, general gift stores that may range from a cart in a mall to a fully fledged storefront, and, of course, Internet-based enterprises.

    Gift stores that sell cat-themed merchandise as well as cat accessories have grown in popularity all over the country.

    Pet Boutique/Store Owners and Staff

    For anyone with a flair for retail and a love of cats, running a pet boutique or a store specializing in feline products and feline-themed merchandise means being surrounded by people besotted with cats all day long. These days, pet retail stores serve the dual function of selling cat-related merchandise and educating the cat-loving public about the products they sell. Thus, entrepreneurs entering this field must have an in-depth knowledge about everything on their shelves. That's especially true when Bibleit comes to cat care products such as waterless shampoos and hairball remedies and foods. Ever since the pet food recall of 2007, cat owners are looking for more information about the foods they are serving their pets, which means the retailer needs to know a lot about the ingredients and manufacturing process and the different types of diets available.

    Fortunately, most cat product and food manufacturers understand this thirst for knowledge and are providing a good deal of educational materials for storeowners to further educate their staff and, ultimately, cat owners.Many pet-store owners work in conjunction with rescue and welfare organizations and host adoption days. Consequently, they also play an important role in helping pets find forever homes. Innovative entrepreneurs can hold contests, fashion shows, and special customer days to raise money for their favorite causes and thus assist those working in cat rescue and welfare.Gift stores that sell cat-themed merchandise as well as cat accessories and basics have grown in popularity all over the country. Such business enterprises usually do very well when situated in an area with a lot of foot traffic or tourists.Numerous pet-specific and gift trade shows are held around the country at regular intervals throughout the year, which makes it easy for a retailer to keep up with the latest trends and ideas and to stock the best selection of merchandise available.If you are not in a position to own a store, there are certainly jobs for staff. Like the owners, staff members will need to be knowledgeable about the merchandise to meet the needs of the cat-loving public. A dedicated shop owner will go out of his or her way to ensure that those employed are properly trained and knowledgeable and thus an asset to the business and the pet community at large.

    Millions of Cats

    According to the American Pet Products Association's 2013–2014 National Pet Owners Survey, the number of home owners in America who have a pet continues to grow and currently stands at 82.9 million households. And, of that number, 45.3 million households have cats. Because there are on average 2.11 cats per household, this translates into 95.6 million cats with loving owners in the United States. This number of course excludes the feral cat colonies that are cared for by caring cat lovers and the numbers of cats in shelters looking to be adopted into loving homes. The same survey also highlights that pet owners have higher household annual incomes, compared to non-pet owning households and that the number of cat owners who buy gifts for their cats is also increasing, with $23 per gift being the average amount spent.

    Manufacturer of Cat Products

    The expression "necessity is the mother of invention" certain applies to the pet industry because many cat lovers have invented some fabulous toys and accessories by simply studying their own felines' wants and needs. Many a cottage industry has grown into a major manufacturing concern. Larger conglomerates have been known to then step in and buy up such companies. There is nothing to stop you starting small but thinking big!Whether you are manufacturing toys, farming kitty grass, or designing unusually shaped scratchers or kitty condos, this is a wonderful opportunity to be working for the benefit of cats in general. Such businesses also usually have a few feline "staff members," too, whose sole job it is to test these products and snooze.With the Internet, small start-up operations these days have the advantage of running their own stores online before venturing to sell their ideas to brick-and-mortar stores via distributors. The many cat shows held around the country on a weekly basis usually have a kitty mall and give start-up vendors the opportunity to take a booth. Craft fares, swap meets, and local pet expos are other places where it's possible to launch new products and ideas.

    Animal Protection and Advocacy

    Being involved with animal welfare and advocacy work can be a very rewarding way to make the world a better place for cats and all animals in general. Humane societies, city animal control units and shelters, as well as privately run animal welfare and nonprofit organizations offer a variety of career opportunities. Some careers can be very hands-on. Other jobs, such as a spokesperson, educator, or even professional fundraiser, collectively play an important role in the world of animal welfare.

    Animal Control Officer

    Cities across the United States, both big and small, have an animal control unit or at least one animal control officer who functions under the city's police or health department. Gone is the stereotype of the animal control officer as a cruel inhumane "animal catcher" whose job it was to rid the streets of loose animals wandering about. Today, the role of the control officer is varied and includes reuniting lost pets with their owners and mediating neighborhood disputes relating to dogs and cats. Animal control officers investigate (dog) bite cases, cases of cruelty and neglect, and pick up dead or injured animals as well as strays. Unfortunately, many city animal shelters or pounds still euthanize unwanted pets and thus there is still a certain stigma attached to the job. However, dedicated animal control officers are working within the system to stop the general euthanization of unclaimed pets and trying to change city ordinances that make it complicated for ordinary citizens to care for feral cat colonies in a quest to make the United States a no-kill country. In their duties as investigators working to protect the health and safety of both people and animals, animal control officers need to be well versed in their city's local laws and ordinances, which they have the power to enforce. They can also make arrests. Although many cities still offer their animal control officers on-the-job training, the National Animal Control Association (NACA) conducts three levels of training workshops, giving candidates certification as an animal control officer. This certification is now widely recognized across the country. The NACA's mission is "preserving the human/animal bond by insisting on responsible animal ownership." Many states are now insisting that their officers have this accreditation. According to the NACA, animal control officers have much more contact with the public than other law enforcement officers. Therefore, officers must have great people skills for their day-to-day dealings with the public and be able to present a good image for the job that they do.

    Animal Shelter Manager

    An animal shelter manager wears many hats. This person is responsible for the day-to- day running of the shelter, supervising the work of shelter assistants and volunteers, and coordinating the treatment provided by outside veterinarians and veterinary assistants who come to the shelter to perform procedures. Overseeing the training of shelter staff and volunteers is often part of the job as well. The job description also includes organizing adoption days and general fund-raising events. General office management experience is a definite advantage for this type of job. The job also entails a lot of paperwork. This includes documenting the number of animals being brought to the shelter and adopted from it, all spay and neuter procedures and other medical care, and the number of animals being euthanized. Animal shelter managers also provide paperwork concerning animal abuse and neglect to local government agencies and prepare evidence for court cases.The manager has many interactions with the general public and numerous ones with the city's animal control officers, other city and government agencies, and nonprofit animal organizations. This means that he or she needs to have good people skills. A shelter manager also needs to have a good public persona because he or she may be called upon to deal directly with the media.

    The Shelter Work Environment

    People who work in an animal shelter environment gain job satisfaction through knowing they have a direct impact on animal welfare in their community. However, some of the work may be unpleasant, physically or emotionally demanding, and sometimes dangerous. Most animal care and service workers have to clean animal cages and lift, hold, or restrain animals, thus risking exposure to bites or scratches. Their work often involves kneeling, crawling, repeated bending, and occasionally lifting heavy supplies. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that full-time animal care and service workers experience a high rate of work-related injury and illness when compared with other professions and jobs. Animal care and service workers who witness abused animals or who assist in euthanizing unwanted, aged, or hopelessly injured animals may experience emotional distress. Those working for private humane societies and municipal animal shelters often deal with the public, some of whom may be hostile. Such workers must maintain a calm and professional demeanor while helping to enforce the laws regarding animal care. Animal care and service workers often work irregular hours, including weekend and holiday shifts.

    The duties of an animal control officer include reuniting owners with lost pets and investigating cases of animal cruelty.

    City Shelter Attendant

    The work of a shelter attendant or caretaker in a city-run animal shelter can be varied, with specific duties determined by how big the shelter is and how many people it employs. Generally, the duties entail keeping the animals fed and groomed and their holding areas spotlessly clean. Attendants may also perform basic office tasks, such as answering the phones and handling the paperwork filed by potential adoptees. In addition to attending to the basic needs of the animals, caretakers at shelters keep records of the animals, including information about any tests or treatments performed on them. City-run shelters have a working relationship with a veterinarian clinic to spay and neuter cats. Because most shelters do not have a full-time veterinary staff, shelter attendants may be required to take care of animals before and after surgery, checking on them and seeing that they are comfortable. As they gain more experience, they may be required to help with postoperative care, as well as the care of injured animals that enter the shelter. Experienced caretakers may vaccinate newly admitted animals under the direction of a veterinarian or veterinary technician and euthanize seriously ill, severely injured, or unwanted animals. Shelter attendants have direct contact with the public both in the front office, dealing with members of the public dropping off unwanted animals or strays they have found, and behind the scenes where the animals are housed, accompanying people looking for their lost pets or looking for a pet to adopt. An attendant also may act as a co-coordinator overseeing volunteers working in the shelter. Many shelter attendants start out as volunteers and learn the workings of an animal shelter through on-the-job training. Many of the courses offered by the National Animal Control Association also stand potential shelter attendants in good stead in learning how to deal with the public and how to handle animal abuse situations.

    If you have a flair for training your cat to do tricks, you might consider becoming a professional trainer.

    A worker at an animal shelter normally will feed the animals, give them medication, clean cages, and help socialize them.

    Spokesperson, Educator, PR Officer

    Many animal organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), major adoption groups such as the North Shore Animal League America, and sanctuaries such as Best Friends Animal Sanctuary offer a variety of jobs such as public relations officer, spokespersons (although this often calls for a celebrity or someone with a recognizable face associated with cats), and educators. Educators are often former teachers who have had classroom experience and can hold workshops and tour schools talking to children of all ages. The public relations field typically attracts people with a degree in communications. However, any experience of working with animals or any animal-related qualifications, such a veterinary technician or animal control officer, are taken into consideration. These organizations usually have a job section on their websites that details the type of work offered and the type of educational background and work experience they require.

    Entertainment and the Media

    These days, it's difficult to miss cats on TV, in print advertisements, and in the movies. They are everywhere! As they have moved up the ladder from being a mere household pet to being a beloved family member, they are being included in the entertainment and advertising world to show off their new position in pop culture. If you have aspirations to be part of the entertainment or advertising world and you love cats, here are some career options to consider.

    Cat Trainer

    TrainerCat training in the entertainment field has come a long way since the 1980s, when famed Hollywood animal trainer Ray Berwick outlined a simple clicker training method for teaching show tricks to cats. Other well-known cat trainers include Karen Payne, owner and trainer of Princess Kitty ("The Smartest Cat in the World"), who could do more than 100 tricks on command and had a successful stage and TV career. Although there are numerous training academies and courses to teach trainers of dogs and exotic animals, there's still no generally recognized professional certification for cat trainers. The Animal Behavior Institute offers an online program that includes specialized coursework in cat training and behavioral management. The more viable options available to cat owners nationwide, however, are still the self-help books and DVDs that promote positive-enforcement and clicker-training methods as training tools.You will need to gain a good deal of experience and be out there training for a while before considering a career in cat training in the entertainment field. Novice trainers can earn excellent experience volunteering at cat adoption agencies and shelters using their techniques to help make cats more adoptable. Another avenue to put your cat training talents to work would be to start your own business and make house calls to train cat lovers how to work with their cats.As you are mastering your cat trick training skills (and earning the money to finance your dreams), you will need to gain contacts in the industry. This is by no means easy. Often, animal trainers give demonstrations at cat shows and pet expos, so this would be a starting point in your networking. Among those contacts should be someone who can refer you to an agent; you will need an agent to approach studios on your behalf. And you will need to make a reel-film proof of your work-for the agent to submit to possible employers, which means finding a good videographer. Many pet talent agencies offer training classes, and it is a good idea to approach such agencies and see if they are hiring. Breaking into the advertising world and film industry as a cat trainer is extremely difficult, but sometimes opportunities open up. Although film studios have their own trainers on contract, they do have a call for freelance cat trainers on set from time to time. Watch the job section on Craigslist. Studios and TV networks often put out a call on this platform, and all you have to do is respond. You just never know! If you prefer to make your own opportunities and have the financing, consider a different approach. With the increase in the number of cats appearing in TV commercials, movies, and print advertisements, you could open your own cat talent agency, like Hollywood Paws in Los Angeles, and hire behaviorists on staff to offer in-house feline training.

    Opportunities to work at wild cat sanctuaries exist, but they are rare and usually require specialized training.

    Cat Photographer

    We've all loved and admired those cute "chocolate box" photographs of cats and kittens. There's no question that being a successful cat photographer takes a true love of cats, an understanding of the feline mind, and lots of patience! Clearly, if you don't already have it, you need to gain an in-depth knowledge of photography, especially as it's done in all of its wondrous forms today. There are numerous colleges that specialize in photography classes and teach students all aspects of the profession (including how to set up and manage a successful studio), as well as colleges with fine arts degree programs. Pet photographers usually start out taking photographs of their own pets to build a portfolio to show to others. Before running off to enroll in a course, however, you need to determine whether you have the makings of a cat photographer. It takes a certain kind of person to work with animals, especially cats. You will need to build a rapport with cat parents and their doting fur kids. Cat parents with stars in their eyes behave just like parents trying to push their children to stardom. Cats, unless specially trained, will not do much on command. You will need to know the best ways to get certain shots and keep going until you get them. That means you have to have infinite patience! A cat photographer is often required to go to the client's home because pets, particularly cats, are much more relaxed in their own surroundings. The types of assignments are varied from private portrait sessions, magazine and advertising shoots, and pet catalogs to events such as cat shows. Most photographers are self-employed. The spinoff, if you are successful, is that you can start producing your own pet calendars and stationery items. Then there are gift books, which are always perennial sellers. Make sure you get cat owners to sign releases so that you can use their pets' photographs.

    Being a successful cat photographer takes a true love of cats, an understanding of the feline mind, and lots of patience!

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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