Class of 2015
Volunteering for Operation Catnip is such a fun and rewarding opportunity. This program has not only allowed me to gain impressive surgical and clinical skills, but also enabled me to take an active role in enhancing the welfare of Community Cats and the relationship with their care takers. Operation Catnip offers a student real-world experience that no class or wet lab can provide in a DVM curriculum.
Thus, I take great pride in knowing that the time I devote to each Operation Catnip Clinic improves the lives of Community Cats in Alachua County and I am always encouraging my classmates and lowerclassmen to be a part of it.
Class of 2015
As a student, I have performed over 100 surgeries and physical exams at Operation Catnip (OC). It is an invaluable resource and I feel is an excellent supplement to our curriculum here at UF. The devotion that the volunteers and caregivers give to the cats that come through the program is a testimony that what we’re doing is really making a difference in our community.
Operation Catnip allows hands-on experience for students, but it is also an opportunity to see the inner workings of a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program. Programs like OC are being developed all over the county and it’s exciting to be a part of the movement to control population and improve the lives of our community cats.
Class of 2015
I am in the fourth year of veterinary school at the University of Florida, where I have regularly volunteered at Operation Catnip’s spay day clinics. I have also enjoyed being part of the UF Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, a Merial Research Scholar on a shelter medicine topic, and a foster parent to usually 1 or 2 tiny kittens. I am the traditional vet student, I love animals and since the first career day in kindergarten I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. My first veterinary experience came working in a shelter when I was 14 years old, and I haven’t stopped. Shelter medicine always reminds me of the first theme in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, which is “Recalled to Life.” It covers the idea that just because something is breathing, doesn’t mean they are living. In shelters, you taken often broken animals who are merely breathing, do your best to heal them and find them loving homes. Being part of that process to give these animals chance to live as a loved pet brings me the greatest joy. It’s why I became a vet!
Class of 2016
Operation Catnip is the reason that I find myself in veterinary medicine. I fell in love with OC when I began volunteering in 2006. It was inspiring to be around other cat-lovers that cared about the well-being of community cats. It was also a great opportunity to get hands-on experience before veterinary school. Now that I am a veterinary student, I continue to gain new skills as I grow in my profession. I love volunteering because I’m interested in cats and this program has allowed me to gain insight on feline medicine and supplement what I’ve studied in class. Through OC I have learned about retroviruses, ophthalmology, surgery, anesthesia, dermatology…and the list could go on.
We are so fortunate at the University of Florida to have Operation Catnip available for student learning opportunities while giving us the chance to collaborate with community members passionate about feline welfare. I have confidence that Operation Catnip has prepared me for my own clinic someday and I absolutely cannot wait.
Class of 2016
Operation Catnip challenges veterinary students to practice innovative thinking, effective communication, and collaborative leadership during their time at UF and beyond. As an Operation Catnip volunteer I am able to promote and advance animal welfare in veterinary student medical and surgical training.
Volunteering for this program gives me the opportunity to put my veterinary career on a path toward purposeful learning and equip me with the ability to motivate and inspire others in shelter medicine.
Class of 2016
Operation Catnip is an invaluable educational tool for veterinary students at the University of Florida. My classmates and I have the unique opportunity to gain surgical experience prior to our senior year, which is essentially unheard of at other veterinary colleges. I started volunteering for Operation Catnip prior to becoming a veterinary student and was able to witness early on the magnitude of overpopulation.
By getting involved in this program, I got first-hand experience in areas such as anesthesia and recovery, surgical preparation and technique, vaccinations, and physical examinations. Operation Catnip is a great demonstration of how quality service can be provided to a high number of animals in order to address an important issue in veterinarian medicine, while also providing priceless veterinary experience in addition to the current student curriculum.
Class of 2016, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
As a visiting summer research student at UF CVM, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in Catnip. The experience I gained through Catnip was an invaluable addition to my veterinary training. As a student volunteer, I was able to perform neuters, physical exams, injections and blood draws in addition to learning important protocols for patient assessment and treatment.
I was impressed with the entire operation, from the phenomenal organization and efficiency to the high standard of patient care and range of opportunities for hands-on clinical training. I was also excited to see so many individuals working to improve the lives of community cats and helping to end overpopulation. I think all veterinary students (and the cats in their communities) would benefit from a program like Catnip!
Patricia D. Diskant
Class of 2017
I began volunteering at Operation Catnip in 2011. I was a pre-vet student who had moved into an apartment that had over 25 feral cats living in the backyard. Shortly after my cat discovery, I stumbled upon Operation Catnip. Problem solved! I wanted to volunteer my time since I did not have money to donate, so whenever I could, I would help at the clinics.
I really enjoyed those Sundays, and they made me very excited for my future in veterinary medicine. Now, three years later, I am a second year vet student still enjoying volunteering at OC clinics. It’s hard to put the experience into words, and still amazes me to this day! OC has given me so many great opportunities to improve my technical skills in various areas, while at the same time helping provide a great service to my community!
I look forward to the day that everyone knows what TNR is, and that people all over will have the opportunity to participate in a clinic of this magnitude!
Kelly R. Nutt
Class of 2017
My experience at Operation Catnip at the University of Florida has been a fantastic one. Because I was not a veterinary technician before attending veterinary school, I had very little clinical experience and was terrified of starting clinical rotations in the animal hospital. However, at Operation Catnip, I learned valuable skills such as proper fluid administration, venipuncture, and bladder expression while having fun with my peers.
It’s inspiring to see the veterinary community and the public work together to manage community cat populations and improve the lives of thousands of animals.
David J. Hall
Class of 2017
The amount of effort and care that goes into OC is second to none. The veterinarians, students and volunteers put everything they have into helping our community cats and citizens. As a student, I was able to practice and refine many technical skills that will be useful in my career.
I felt true satisfaction knowing that I had contributed to the safety and health of cats that live in areas around my neighborhood. Gainesville and UF are lucky to have such a wonderful program.
Class of 2019
I became involved with Operation Catnip as a sophomore undergraduate student in December of 2011, and since that first experience I have continued to volunteer at the monthly spay/neuter clinics and other OC events.
In addition to serving as an invaluable resource for the local community, a model for other TNR programs, and as a place for veterinary students and veterinarians to improve their skills, Operation Catnip is also a remarkable organization through which pre-veterinary students can explore their interests in veterinary medicine and come to realize the scale of pet overpopulation.
As a pre-veterinary volunteer, I have had the opportunity to fulfill roles at a variety of Operation Catnip clinic stations from preoperative all the way through postoperative recovery, and I know without a doubt that all of the lessons I have learned from these experiences will prove useful. I look forward to the day I can become even more involved with this wonderful organization as a veterinary student.