The recent CATalyst Summit on feline health has resulted in a plan to improve feline veterinary care, increase responsible pet ownership, and enhance the status of cats.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners held the summit from Feb. 5-6 in Palm Springs, Calif., with underwriting from Pfizer Animal Health. The participants represented more than 30 organizations—including the AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation, and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Jim Flanigan, AVMA marketing director, presented statistics from the AVMA's 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. The data indicate an increase in the cat population between 2001 and 2006 but a decline in overall veterinary visits for cats. The data also show that cats in households with a dog or dogs visited veterinarians less often than dogs in these households.
In response to such statistics, summit participants developed an action plan with the following five elements:
- Continue to collaborate across all channels.
- Develop feline life-stage wellness guidelines for veterinary professionals and pet owners.
- Create cat-friendly veterinary practices.
- "Brand" the cat.
- Produce a consumer awareness campaign.
A steering committee will determine how to implement the action plan.
"The passion and energy shared by all the participants at the CATalyst Summit was awe-inspiring," said Dr. Jane Brunt, summit chair and a past AAFP president. "Throughout the meeting, we kept in mind that 'it's all about the cat'—and as a result, participants from so many areas of the feline world agreed on how we can do our part to help cats."
As an immediate outcome of the summit, the AAFP and AAHA announced a plan to partner on developing feline life-stage wellness guidelines for veterinary professionals. Winn Feline Foundation will coordinate writing a consumer version of the guidelines, with underwriting from Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.