“Our knowledge about cats is increasing but we will never know enough”

Barcelona – 11th November 2017. The ninth edition of the European Feline Conference, sponsored by the Barcelona City Council, TASSO e.V and FOUR PAWS took place last saturday.

The conference started with Pierre Sultana, director of the FOUR PAWS European Policy Office in Brussels. FOUR PAWS is the initiator of the CAROcat.eu and CAROdog.eu platforms whose main objective is to provide and disseminate reliable knowledge on cats in Europe, focusing on feline overpopulation management and, in consequence, on all resulting animal welfare issues. Sultana explained the work which is being done in Brussels to improve EU legislation, focusing on the necessary mandatory identification and registration of cats and dogs, and a better control of cat and dog trade in the EU.

The second speaker was Valentina Aybar, President of the Spanish Group of Feline Medicine (Gemfe-Avepa), a cat lover and veterinarian. She presented her proposals for the new position statement that Gemfe-Avepa will publish shortly on TNR and the management of cat colonies. The text will replace the 2013 statement and will include elements showing the coincidence between ethical practices and epidemiological and management evidence. Gemfe position statement on TNR has already become a reference for professionals, public officers, veterinarians and cat lovers in Spain.

Albert Lloret, veterinarian of the Veterinary Clinic Hospital of the Autonomous University of Barcelona gave a presentation on infectious diseases in cats. Lloret, also a member of GEMFE and of the ABCD (European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases) group is the protagonist of a video about the same topic published two years ago and that is breaking viewing records in its category. Lloret presented an update of that communication through questions and answers. Diseases of this nature are a huge concern for the cat community and a  greater knowledge is necessary to better manage them. It implies prevention, early treatment and also changes in epidemiological management policies. Those diseases should be identified and treated properly: “quality information saves lives”.

Maggie Roberts, veterinary director of Cats Protection showed in great detail how many cats can get adopted from a first class feline adoption. In the National Cat Centre short stays, enriched environment, attention to medical and psychological aspects in equal parts are keys to be successful in getting cats adopted. Avoid a “storage management approach", avoid long confinement, balance the stimulus with rest and maintain low level of stress are part of the twenty non-negotiable recommendations made by Roberts. Cats Protection has a very long experience (they have just turned 90!) and a wide network of adoption centers, all exclusively for cats. Cats and dogs can live together in homes but not in confinement equipment such as shelters or adoption centres: “Neither felines relax nor many dogs tolerate their neighbors”.

The last speaker was Gabriel Bustillo, the chief veterinarian of the Fundacion Protectora de Animales de Asturias, who argued overwhelmingly in favor of prevention when an animal arrives at a shelter. Many of his contributions are regularly developed in his blog Otra Vetemirada and in VeRA his facebook about shelter medicine. From his presentation we want to highlight the "feline manifesto for a cardboard box" (a very low cost requirement that has a huge impact on cats welfare in shelter) and how a good pre-adoption and post-adoption procedures minimize failed adoptions.

The evaluations on this year conference are again very positive among all those involved (30% of those being "cat carers"). The organization thanks all the people coming from Barcelona but also Lugo, Tenerife, Zaragoza, Madrid, Tarragona, Lleida, Girona, Tortosa: more than 200 “cat enthusiasts” attended the conference.

See original article in spanish here.