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Article Published May 13, 2020

Buck Drummond: Being Catty

By Rita Christopher/

They gaze at you adoringly; they snuggle up readily; they never refuse to clean their rooms. Okay, they are not teenagers, but who are they? Your pets, the cats and dogs whose company has become so important in this time of social isolation. And they are the patients whom Buck Drummond, DVM, takes care of.

Buck, who lives in Essex, operates the Animal Hospital of Old Saybrook. On Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m., he will give a Zoom presentation on cats for the Essex Library. Those interested in attending should sign up on the Essex Library website

“People have cats as a part of their lives, but they can still find them inscrutable and frustrating,” Buck says.

His program is designed to help figure out that inscrutability—”A chance to help understand cats,” he says.

And, he adds, cats do have at least one thing in common with teenagers.

“Cats can act out,” Buck says, particularly, for instance, if their litter box is not clean or they are experiencing stress.

A reference to a cat, Buck notes, once usually meant the domestic tabby, formally known as the domestic shorthair, or an occasional Siamese. Today, however, he points out exotic breeds have become far more popular. They range from British shorthairs—stocky cats, often with grey-blue coats and copper-colored eyes—and flat-faced Persian cats that Buck says look little stuffed animals to the Abyssinian with a delicately multi-colored coat and Sphynx cats, hairless and with webbed feet.

Recent news stories have reported that several cats have tested positive for the coronavirus as well as at least one dog and a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. At this point, there no rigorous studies on the relationship between the disease, animals, and humans.

“What I’ve distilled from recent newspaper and vet journal reports is that is appears domestic cats can become infected with COVID-19, presumably from human exposure, but they only develop at most mild symptoms, and there have been no confirmed causes of it passing from pet cats to their humans,” Buck notes.

Buck has known ever since he was a child that he wanted to be a veterinarian. He says there is a story his family tells that when he was in 6th grade, he sent his report card to Texas A&M University to see if his marks were on track to get into veterinary school.

When the time actually came, he studied veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia, from which he also has his undergraduate degree.

When he was a youngster, Buck’s mother didn’t restrict his ability to keep a variety of pets, with one proviso: that the pets stay in his room.

“There were hamsters, a bird, an aquarium,” he recalls.

The only problems came when the pets got out of his bedroom.

“Lots of family stories about that,” he adds.

Buck’s parents named him Mark. When he was in college, fraternity brothers thought he looked like a character in the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, but rather than calling him by the character’s name, Tommy, they called him Buck. The name has stayed with him.

Before coming to Connecticut, Buck worked for more than a decade in the Washington, D.C., area, where he grew up. Earlier, he had practiced in Savannah, Georgia and in Los Angeles, where he worked night shifts at veterinary clinics as a specialist in emergency medicine.

Veterinary medicine, he observes, is a passport to live in a variety of places.

“People have pets everywhere,” he says.

Buck and his husband, Michael Dudich, deputy director for administration at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, chose Essex because it reminded them of Savannah’s historic appeal.

“We wanted a small town after living in D.C. and we wanted to reclaim the same kind of charm as Savannah,” he says. “We looked at Essex and then we looked at a bunch of other places and we came back to Essex.”

While he was in Washington, Buck became involved with Paws of Honor, an organization that provides medical care and products free to retired military and law enforcement dogs. Buck explains that finding adoptive homes, often with the dog’s former handler, for a retired animal, can be difficult because of the costs of caring for an aging animal. Paws of Honor solves that problem.

Buck, who is on the board of trustees of Paws of Honor, has now started a branch in this area.

Buck, considered an essential worker, is still on the job. He talks with pet owners on the telephone, provides curbside service at his office to pick up pets, and delivers the animals back to the owners’ cars. Actually, his workload has increased as people came to shelter in place at weekend and summer homes.

“I’m working six days a week. Cats and dogs still need regular care,” he says. “People can’t put if off.”

What’s more, he points out that in this time of COVID-19 restrictions, pets are particularly important.

“In times of missing friends and family and loved ones, pets are there. While you are not seeing a human, you are seeing another living thing,” he says. “Animal health is a big part of community health and mental health.”

Cats! A Zoom presentation by Dr. Buck Drummond

Dr. Buck Drummond offers a Zoom presentation on cats on Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m. sponsored by the Essex Library. To join the Zoom presentation , visit, click on Adults and then on Adult Events. There are instructions for downloading Zoom and accessing the presentation. There is no charge for Zoom and no charge for the program.