Cat practice a passion for AAFP president

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Dr. Brown examining a cat
Dr. Marcus G. Brown lives in Arlington, Va., with his three cats, Spanky, Cosmo, and Bootie. (Courtesy of AAFP)

The way Dr. Marcus G. Brown sees it, practitioners need to raise the level of feline veterinary care to that for dogs. This can be accomplished, he says, by educating cat owners and helping veterinary practices become more cat-friendly.

The incoming president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners owns NOVA Cat Clinic in Arlington, Va. He serves on the Cat Friendly Practice Program Task Force, which guides the AAFP’s initiative to elevate feline veterinary care and increase routine veterinary visits.

“(Cat Friendly Practice) is gaining a lot of momentum. Hopefully, we can get the message out that we’re here to help practitioners. This can help anyone who sees a cat (to) be better able to understand the cat and cat owner, to improve the experience for clients,” he said.

Dr. Brown said his clinic implemented the Cat Friendly Practice guidelines this past year.

“You don’t have to break a sweat, but it really makes you think, too. It’s helped bring things to my mind that could help me better my practice,” Dr. Brown said. “Even the most seasoned cat practitioner can benefit.”

Finding his calling

Dr. Brown discovered his passion for veterinary medicine at age 5 from his father, who was a large animal practitioner. He also learned English from going on calls with his dad. Dr. Brown was born in the U.S., but for a few years as a toddler, lived in Brazil, his mom’s country.

Dr. Brown graduated in 1986 from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Afterward, he worked at several mixed animal practices and then an equine practice in Annapolis, Md. In 1991, he joined a companion animal practice in Arlington. Dr. Brown then went to work for Hill’s Pet Nutrition as an account manager in the sales/education division.

“I would go into clinics, and some of them were cat clinics, and eventually I was asked to do relief work for some of them and fell in love with that kind of practice,” Dr. Brown said. “When you start working with one species, you tend to get better at it. From handling cats to the nature of how cat practices are, it was a perfect fit for me.”

He has been practicing in a feline-only hospital since 1995 and has been a practice owner since 1998, with his newest hospital, NOVA Cat Clinic, opening in 2012. It is American Animal Hospital Association–accredited.

His passion for feline medicine extends beyond his clinic’s walls. Dr. Brown is also an active supporter in local, state, and national feline organizations.

Since the mid-1990s, he’s been a scientific adviser for Alley Cat Allies. He got involved thanks to one of his clients, who sits on the organization’s board of directors, and he lives in the area where its work first started.

Alley Cat Allies was the first organization to introduce and advocate for humane methods of feral cat care, particularly trap-neuter-return, in the American animal protection community.

“Cats didn’t come here on their own making, we brought them. Controlling the population in a humane way is very important,” Dr. Brown said.

Strength in numbers

Organized veterinary medicine appeals to him for many reasons, but chiefly because Dr. Brown thinks it’s important for such a small profession to band together “to make sure we can help each other.”

Dr. Brown lives close to Washington, D.C., which has allowed him to become involved with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division.

“It’s fascinating, all the things going on, and we just need to be aware and get involved,” he said, from issues with over-the-counter drugs to compounding. “It’s important our voice is heard so the law will reflect what our needs are, too.”

Dr. Brown has been on the board of directors for the AAFP since 2011 and has served as the AAFP’s alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. He has volunteered on many AAFP entities, including the 2010 AAFP/American Animal Hospital Association Feline Life Stage Guidelines Panel and as a member of the Feline Welfare Committee.

He said working on the guidelines allowed him to work with “fascinating” people.

Plus, “it’s just nice being able to share experiences that you can bring to the table and help other veterinarians,” Dr. Brown said.