Catonsville Patch: How long have you been in business in Catonsville?
Pam Nesbitt: The Catonsville Cat Clinic has been here [behind the Double T Diner] since 1997, but I bought the practice last July, 2011. Before that I worked in Essex/Middle River and in Towson.
Patch: Why did you choose Catonsville?
Nesbitt: Cats have always been my first love. So, when this practice became available, it was a wonderful opportunity, and I couldn’t NOT move forward with it.
Patch: What do you like about being in Catonsville?
Nesbitt: I’m originally from Tennessee, and the first time I drove down Frederick Road, I loved its flavor of a small town. It reminds me of Franklin, where I went to high school, it’s a suburb of Nashville, but it’s a historic town.
Patch: What changes have you made in the practice since you bought it?
Nesbitt: Every member of the staff was here before I came. They are wonderful people and very capable.
So the changes really have been cosmetic; we wanted the décor to reflect a peaceful, calm atmosphere; so we redid the floors, painted the walls beige, and bought simple, black benches for the waiting room. Our new reception desk is on the way. We also have updated the exam areas with new tables and sinks, and we have a new vanity waiting to be installed.
Patch: Is it a big change going from being a veterinary associate to owning your own practice?
Nesbitt: Yes! I still have all the responsibilities of being a doctor as well as the business side of things, which I never had to do before, like finances, staffing, and marketing. When something happens, now it’s me they come to! But I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, so I like the business ownership side too.
Patch: How has the veterinary business changed over time?
Nesbitt: This is an exciting business to be in because medicine is continually evolving. The level of diagnosis and care that we can give now is incredible. School does not stop when you get your DVM, it’s a life-long educational process.
Patch: What services do you do?
Nesbitt: We do what we call life stage exams, which are tailored to the age of the cat. We diagnose, treat, perform surgery, dental work, routine spay and neutering, as well as other soft tissue surgery. We have some weekday boarding and hope to expand to weekends. We also groom.
Patch: What’s a typical day like?
Nesbitt: There’s never a typical day. You never know what the day will bring. Sometimes we’ll have an emergency and the day has to change. Sometimes a routine procedure will turn up something we didn’t expect. We want to be sure that our clients know that they can call us in a real emergency, and we will take them right away; that’s important to us.
Patch: What is your busiest time of year?
Nesbitt: Surprisingly, it’s summer. I’m not sure why. Maybe people think about getting the routine care done during the summer when they have more time.
Patch: Do you have a signature service or specialty thing you do?
Nesbitt: We’re all about the kitties! I was in a traditional, small animal practice and believe me, being an exclusively feline practice is a huge difference. The cats come in and they’re in a strange place and maybe they don’t feel well; it’s much better for them not to have to deal with dogs. It’s quiet and calm here; not hearing barking dogs is much less stressful for everyone. Plus, my life’s work can now be about learning and studying feline diseases and problems.
Patch: What’s one of the hardest things about your work?
Nesbitt: Obviously, end of life and euthanasia are hard for us. But even more difficult is telling clients when their cat has a terminal illness. We all, as a team, we all struggle with that because we’ve been there, sitting in that chair and receiving bad news.
Patch: What are you proud of?
Nesbitt: There are a number of things. I’m proud that we can continue to offer Catonsville a place to lovingly care for their cats. I’m proud of my staff and the work and care they put into this practice. And I’m proud and thankful to be in a profession that’s more of a calling than a job.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about your work?
Nesbitt: Helping. I can help not only the cats but also their owners. When a cat comes in who is not well and leaves healthy, then I have helped the cat and the client feel better.
Patch: What are you looking forward to?
Nesbitt: I’m looking forward to the renovations being finished so that we can feel completely settled.
Patch: What's the best piece of advice that someone has given you when it comes to running a business?
Nesbitt: One of my old bosses here in Baltimore has been a real role model. There wasn’t any one particular thing he told me, but he was a wonderful, fair boss and I enjoyed working for him. I often think that if my employees think of me the way I think of him, then I will have done a good job.