Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: The Secret Life of a Vet by Sion Rowlands

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Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: The Secret Life of a Vet by Sion Rowlands

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Category: Animals and Wildlife
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A look at the life of a vet and the way that animal welfare and ethics have to be balanced. A fast, relatively easy read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: February 2024
Publisher: Two Roads
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529395228

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Siôn Rowlands fell into veterinary science accidentally. His father was a GP and Rowlands didn't want to follow in his footsteps, particularly when he considered the strain that being on-call put on his father's life. When he was seventeen he took the opportunity of doing work experience with a family friend who was a vet and was convinced this was the job for him. Before long, he was at Liverpool University. It hadn't - as with so many students - been his dream since he was a child. If anything, he'd wanted to be a professional footballer.

The stories of his childhood and early life in rural Wales are engaging: they're very much of a time gone by. His parents' separation was well handled and he and his four siblings have remained close and supportive. Rowlands has had stretches of locum work that add considerable variety to the stories in the book. Most books by vets concentrate on one of equine, large animal or small animal work. Letting the Cat Out of the Bag has experiences from all three areas - including applying suncream to a baby elephant and rescuing a horse from a cliff edge. So far as small animals are concerned, the less said about dogs' anal glands, the better!


I enjoyed the anecdotes about daily life in a veterinary practice both in the UK and Australia. They're self-deprecatory in an amusing way and enlightening. The stories of animal neglect and abuse are horrific. Some people really should not be allowed to keep animals: there were a couple of occasions when I shed tears.

There's plenty of thought-provoking discussion on ethics and animal welfare: they're areas about which Rowlands is passionate. If this is a subject you'd like to explore further, we can recommend How to Love Animals in a Human-Shaped World by Henry Mance.

What I took away from this book was that it should be read by anyone who wants to own an animal - just so that you can see exactly what level of commitment is involved. Any aspiring vets would be well advised to read it to see what they're letting themselves in for. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy. It was a relatively light and easy read.

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Buy Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: The Secret Life of a Vet by Sion Rowlands at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: The Secret Life of a Vet by Sion Rowlands at Amazon.com.

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