Words by: Jackie Harrigan

After working for over 40 years in Taranaki as a large-animal vet, keen photographer Cathy Thompson had amassed a huge collection of photos of animal health conditions, interesting and unusual cases, and onfarm facilities.
Now she has spent the first two years of her retirement using the photos to write, firstly, a Practical Guide for Cattle Veterinarians and, recently, a Veterinary Book for Cattle Farmers.
Cathy has always been a keen photographer and says she was always really interested in the different things she saw onfarm with farmers and their animals.
“Some were really gory and I often brought bits back to the clinic to show people,” she says, laughing about how she used to drag the poor clinic receptionists out to see what she had collected.

“I have also built up a bone collection – with skulls and leg bones mainly – showing different lumpy bits, infections, and other problems, and a collection of unborn calves of different sizes.”

The collection of thousands of photos proved very useful in her work to show other vets and farmers unusual and interesting things, for vet conferences and when she hosted senior vet students for practical placement.
In 2001 she was the Massey Dairy Practitioner in residence at the university for eight weeks, giving guest lectures and tutorials to fifth year vet students, lecturers, and other students.
“I have also built up a bone collection – with skulls and leg bones mainly – showing different lumpy bits, infections, and other problems, and a collection of unborn calves of different sizes.”
When she retired after 45 years of vet work, mainly at the Taranaki Veterinary Centre, she started writing about deformed calves and then just kept going, ending up with a weighty tome with all the “practical things they didn’t teach you at Vet school – including tips and tricks of how a slightlybuilt female manages to restrain, examine, and treat cattle”.
The book was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and distributed through the NZ Veterinary Association, and is popular with vet students and new vets in practices around the country. Cathy decided to follow it up with the book for cattle farmers, sponsored by Shoof who are distributing the book through their online shop and vet practice and farm supply stores networks.
The farmers’ book has similar content to the book for veterinarians, but with more about first aid, what normal looks like, and a section on safety and handling tips and tricks. There are also true stories and interesting cases she remembers from her many years visiting farms.
“I have loved working with people over the years. Having photos helped my memory of cases, farmers and farms, and stories! Many of “my” farmers thought I should write a book, so I did it for them.”
“I certainly didn’t write it to make money – I wanted to use my photos to give something back to the vet profession and farmers.”
The Veterinary Book for Cattle Farmers will retail for $150 RRP and is available from shoof.co.nz, vet practices, and farm supply stores.