Having a pet in vet school is great for your morale, but even better, a pet is an awesome learning tool. Looking back on my first year of vet school, I benefited from having my cat, L.B., with me. Her name is short for Little Buddy, and she definitely felt the love while I used her for palpation practice to study anatomy.
In a recent conversation with a vet I work for, she compared the veterinary curriculum to drinking out of a fire hose. I’d agree, and I benefited by applying what I learned in class at home. Having a cat helped me remember the metacromion, which was worth a few points on our anatomy lecture and lab exams. While that little piece of bone on the feline scapula is probably not the most clinically important thing in the world, I am pretty sure that finding it on my pet helped solidify that structure in my mind.
Another interesting aspect was realizing the anatomy of the feline digits. Simply trimming my cat’s claws was a mindless chore before I realized the intricate structure of tendons and movement associated with extensor and flexor muscles. Having a pet enhanced my ability to actively learn certain concepts in vet school and to make associations. It’s important not just to memorize things during vet school. L.B. helped me retain information and was a surprisingly effective tutor.