WHILST dog ownership has either reached a plateau or fallen in numbers in many parts of the world, the cat seems to grow in popularity. The cat is now the number one pet in many countries and, with an estimated 60 million in Europe, it’s a species that demands more attention.
It’s odd, then, that so many CPD events tend to be biased towards our canine patients. Go to any major companion animal conference and you will find the dog discussed at length, followed by a five-minute “and what happens in the cat is…” add-on.
June, feline patients were put firmly at the top of the agenda. This year’s congress addressed a subject which highlights an area where the most important life-or-death differences between dogs and cats occur: emergency and trauma medicine. At ESFM, which is a division of the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB), a distinguished panel of speakers examined everything from the treatment of collapsed animals and orthopaedic emergencies, to central nervous system trauma and blood transfusions.
Speakers from the UK included Sophie Adamantos (RVC), Laurent Garosi (Davies Veterinary Specialists), Sandra Corr (RVC) and John Williams (Oakwood Veterinary Referrals), whilst international speakers were Tim Hackett (Colorado State University, USA) and Jens Haggstrom (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences).
A small but friendly congress, this year’s ESFM saw 420 delegates travel to Croatia from 26 different countries.
The speakers managed to knit together the many and varied presentations of the “emergency cat” and gave excellent, practical insight into what vets should and shouldn’t do.
Over the course of the weekend it became clear that many drugs and supportive therapies fall into both categories and what may be an appropriate course of action for one cat is not for another. For example, we learn that cats “don’t do shock well” and that, as a species, they are particularly vulnerable to volume overload and can develop pulmonary oedema as a result of inappropriate fluid therapy.
The speakers were united in their message to monitor feline trauma patients regularly and carefully, and to treat each cat on a case-by-case basis.
Another highlight of the scientific programme was a pre-congress vaccination interview day organised by Merial Animal Health. This interactive discussion forum looked at the subject of client communication with special reference to feline infectious disease and vaccination.
The congress was also the site for the launch of the new ABCD vaccination guidelines which are available in a special edition of the newlook Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Also at the event, the Merial Young Scientist of the Year award went to Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences graduate Jonas Wensman, whilst Vétoquinol picked up the FAB “Easy to Give” award for its palatable antibiotic Clavaseptin.
ESFM has a reputation for being a particularly laid back congress and, this year, delegates could relax in the delights of the Croatian Riviera.
The congress was held at the Hotel Croatia which, perched atop a Cypress-clad hill, was sandwiched between stunning views of the Adriatic sea and the picturesque fishing village of Cavtat. The setting was the perfect backdrop to ESFM social events such as a boat-trip to the UNESCO world heritage site Dubrovnik and a Saturday night “Aqua” theme party.
So, if you thought that cat conferences were only for cat vets then think again. ESFM is a fun and friendly event with plenty of personality and great science: the best place to redress that balance.
■ The 2010 ESFM congress will be held in Amsterdam from 18th to 20th June with two themes: feline dentistry and feline pain management.