Cover Cat

The June 1 issue of JAVMA, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, had an Iowa State connection.

“Barney the Barn Cat” was painted by Dr. Robert Billiar (’58), a retired small animal practitioner in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Billiar says painting is a hobby of his, although while he was a DVM student at Iowa State, he served as a medical illustrator in the anatomy department.

“As a child, I always liked to draw, mostly animals, as I was fascinated by animals and had many different kind of pets,” Billiar says. “When I was a freshman at Iowa State, my professor (Dr. Robert Getty) noticed my artistic ability and offered me a job doing illustrating for publications.

“I did this for my remaining three years and it was very helpful in paying for my education.”

After graduating from Iowa State in 1958, Billiar returned to his home state of Nebraska where he practiced for 57 years, owning his own small animal hospital in South Sioux City.

During this time, Billiar took art lessons at a local art club, working primarily in acrylic and painting mostly landscapes and old barns. More recently he took art lessons in pastels at the Sioux City Art Center.

Today Billiar and his wife live on a small acreage with a small horse barn with two miniature horses. It was then that Barney showed up as a frightened stray kitten.

“He is the best cat and still lives with us,” Billiar reports. “Barney the Barn Cat” however is owned by Dr. Clark Fobian, who served as president of the AVMA.

“I discussed by desire to have my artwork on the cover of JAVMA with Dr. Fobian and he submitted photos of my painting to AVMA,” Billiar said. “I feel he was a help in getting Barney on the cover.”