Cecilia Villaverde portrait

Credentials: Bachelor in 

Veterinary Medicine • Specialist in companion animal nutrition • Board-certified in both USA and Europe

Homebase: Expert Pet Nutrition, consulting on clinical nutrition

Where in the world: County Cork, Ireland

The one who feeds pet health

 

Doctor Cecilia Villaverde, an advising member of our Puppy & Kitten Expert Board, is a veterinarian specialising in companion animal nutrition. Doctor Villaverde focuses on the nutritional needs of pets throughout all life stages. Her objective is clear. Find the best nutritional approach to prevent and manage diseases to help cats and dogs achieve long, healthy lives.


Once she finished her degree at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in 2000, Doctor Villaverde knew she wanted to do research. Drawn to pet nutrition and the idea that what we eat feeds what we are, she was initially torn between treating farm animals and small companion animals. The latter won. With a focus on obesity and critical care nutrition, Doctor Villaverde is now concentrated on her clinical practice, seeing pet patients in three different clinics and the consultancy she opened in 2017. When a vet has a challenging case and needs a fresh eye with a specialist perspective, Doctor Villaverde is brought in. That is something she can do from anywhere in the world as, fundamentally, she studies lab results and medical files. Doctor Villaverde is first and foremost a scientist. “Science is the tool that ensures that our knowledge is sound. It allows us to make real educated decisions for our pets that will affect their lives.”

Originally from Barcelona, though from an Argentinian family, Doctor Villaverde did her residency in California at UC Davis, and currently lives in Ireland. This intercontinental path infuses her every move with an open-minded world view. She has realised how differently pets are seen and treated by different cultures, with varying levels of attachment. Doctor Villaverde says she is pretty unshockable now, which is no doubt a plus for clinical practice.

 

“Science is the tool that allows us to make real educated decisions.”
— Dr. Villaverde, Specialist in companion animal nutrition

 

A lifelong and serial cat owner, Dr. Villaverde tends to adopt older cats. Knowing that they are harder to adopt, she feels she is lucky enough to have the resources to care for them. Also, an older cat already has its character firmly set and she likes to know what she is getting: A cat with a clear sense of who she or he is. Dr. Villaverde acknowledges that it is challenging getting a new cat knowing that they might not have long together. But, as she says, someone has to love older pets. Having done it three times so far, Dr. Villaverde acknowledges that, even as a vet, her training doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier.

And despite her training, there are things she can’t fix because the beginning of any pet’s life has a direct influence on the rest of their life. In her specialty field, they know that what happens nutrition-wise during the animal’s growth period can have life-long implications. That’s why, with her clinical experience in the nutritional management of puppies and kittens, she agreed to join the Royal Canin Puppy & Kitten Expert Board and looks forward to collaborating with the other members, some of whom she already knows professionally. The goal? To improve cats’ and dogs’ quality of life through better nutrition at the start of it, simply put.

5 questions with Dr. Villaverde


Are you a more of a dog or a cat person? 

I love dogs, but I am 100% a cat person.
People can be dog and cat people but it is a different relationship. And a different lifestyle. The work that a dog entails is difficult for me because I travel for work a lot. It would be unfair to them. But I have to say, I love cats’ personalities.

What are your favourite cat or dog names?

I always wanted to call a cat Crowley. And Mr. Darcy. I think the name Mittens is so perfectly feline, though any cat named Mittens should have ‘boots’, paws that are a different colour, for the name to have real meaning. A good friend of mine has a cat named Orange, and I love that name too. That’s four. I can’t think of five right now. I will have to owe you one!

What's the question you hear more often from pet owners?

Probably, “What is the best food I can feed my pet?” There are so many myths floating around out there, which can be exhausting. But pet owners always want the best for their pets, and so do I, and the least I can do in my work is listen. So, I listen. And only then can I give them my professional opinion.

What's the weirdest work of your everyday work life?

Sarcopenia, maybe. I love this word, though not its meaning. From the Greek, sarco, which means ‘muscle’ and penia, which roughly translates to ‘reduction’, it refers to a loss of muscle mass usually due to the ageing process. When cats or dogs, and people, get old, they can lose muscle mass. We are always looking for strategies to slow it down.

What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?

A librarian. Books are quite possibly my first love. It was hard for me to make friends as an introverted child, so I spent my time in the library, reading. A lot. I used to help the librarian. Though I am still reserved, I can speak to anyone about a good book.


“The beginning of any pet's life has a direct influence on the rest of their life.”

— Dr. Villaverde, Specialist in companion animal nutrition

Meet other members of the team

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Puppyhood is a time of massive physical and behavioural change, and a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your puppy with the best start to life so they develop into strong, healthy dogs.

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