The cat's out of the bag! Dr. Elizabeth Colleran is one cool kitty

November 30, 2016
Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, DABVP (feline practice)
Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, DABVP (feline practice)

Dr. Elizabeth Colleran is the owner and Hospital Director of two exclusively feline practices and is an ABVP Diplomate in Feline Practice. She participated in the 2013 Bayer Veterinary Care and Usage Study 3 Feline Findings. Prior to veterinary school, she worked in Sales and Marketing Management for IBM where she worked with Fortune 500 companies to streamline internal networks. Her passions are her crazy husband, two equally crazy Burmese cats, bicycling and Indian cuisine.

This busy feline practitioner keeps her life in balance on the back of a tandem bike.

Editor's note: Here at dvm360, we love Dr. Elizabeth Colleran. We started working with her in earnest for our Leadership Challenge Cat Care in Crisis and its follow-up The F word, trying to get more cat owners to bring their pets in for routine wellness care. We quickly became captivated by her love of animals (she owns a dog as well), her passion for passing on what she has learned and her genuinely creative mind. We think you will too.

Dr. Elizabeth Colleran has seen incredible sights, such as the Italian Alps, while riding a tandem bike. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Colleran)The felicity of a feline focus

I always felt inadequate trying to know everything about dogs, cats, hamsters, ferrets and on and on. It made me uneasy, as if I might not know enough to ever be good at it. For me, specializing meant putting my whole brain to work on knowing as much as I could about a most unique and intriguing species. Switching to feline-exclusive medicine and getting my American Board of Veterinary Practitioners status was one of my most important career decisions, and I love what I do to bits!

Purr-suasive people in my life

> Thich Nhat Hahn (a Zen master) taught me that being present and fully aware of the moment is a powerful way to connect with myself and with others. I have since attempted to integrate some form of meditation into each day, which doesn't necessarily mean sitting. It means walking or working with intention and presence. Whew, that sounds heavy, but I say all of this with a grin on my face.

> Dr. Franklin Loew was the dean at Tufts when I was a veterinary student. He welcomed me to school as someone who would soon be a good veterinarian, which was an act of great kindness. He taught me that the biggest challenges warrant big laughs.

Dr. Colleran's partner on that tandem bike, and in life, Hollis.> Hollis, my partner of 24 years, taught me to ride a bike properly and to pump up my tires before every ride. There's a metaphor there that I like a lot. It's what he always calls “thinking through the process.” As a result, if I don't know how to do or handle something, if I take time to think and prepare, I can figure it out. He also taught me that if I want to have friends, I better take care of them. He is the reason I call or email them to check in and let them know I care about them. He's really good at that. We both love to cook, so we entertain as often as we can.

Gone but not fur-gotten

Doing it all means having to give up a thing or two. I don't see my friends as much as I used to, nor do I read as many books as I would like. We used to have big dinner parties, complete with rented tables and chairs, hosting 18 to 30 people at a time. We'll do it again someday. There isn't time right now.

How to handle being “that crazy cat lady”

Most people who know I own two practices located 500 miles apart think I have found the new definition of insanity. The look that comes over someone who learns this is a mix of disbelief, wondering what kind of meds I'm on and pondering whether they should call for help, so I don't talk about it much.

To keep life manageable, it's important for me to keep my body in motion, so I ride my bike (often in tandem with Hollis), hike and take walks. I think I feel at peace when my body is energized, and I do some of my best thinking on the back of the tandem!

In another of my nine lives …

I would be a writer. Maybe the quirky, weird kind who self-publishes, smokes and stays up all night. Or maybe the blogger who never leaves her house except for bike rides. Or maybe the kind who just writes and writes until the house is full of manuscripts that never see the light of day. But certainly not the machine who writes four murder mysteries a year.