The family moved home to the UK in 1993, back to the south-west, which Kat says she has called her home since her first day at Bristol University. “I vowed I would never live in the south-east again from that moment! I love the greenness here, the slower pace, how lovely all the people are. As a vet, you’re very much at the heart of a rural community like this.” Perhaps that’s why she found it so difficult to give up work.
Even though Kat has retired from veterinary practice, she has remained involved in a heifer monitoring project, keeping her “sort-of working”. This came about ten years ago, when she started to work on a government scheme to help develop the skills of rural women, all of whom wanted to learn how better to rear calves. This scheme segued into a calf and heifer vaccine trial, a project following 600 heifers from birth across eight farms in the area. Samples of heifers were vaccinated against pneumonia to see how this influenced their weight and eventual milk yields; Kat found that the day-to-day welfare of the animals (how well they were fed, how warm they were kept) had a greater impact on their wellbeing and productivity than vaccinations.