The CATalyst Summit: Championing for Cat’s Well-being


The Year of the Cat: According to Steve Dale, the image of cats will be updated throughout the year.

According to Steve Dale, who hosts a radio show and writes a syndicated column, cats are the Rodney Dangerfield of the animal kingdom. They are not accorded any respect.

That will probably shift in the near future if Dale and a number of other veterinarians and feline specialists have their way.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), with initial underwriting from Pfizer Animal Health, launched a historic event on February 5 and 6, coinciding with the AAFP Winter meeting in Palm Springs, California. The event was called The CATalyst Summit.

Participants at the summit included both individuals and businesses that have a significant financial stake in promoting the health and well-being of cats. The summit was successful in laying the groundwork for a national initiative to champion the cat, and several affiliated leading organizations have already committed to attending the summit. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Winn Feline Foundation, the Cornell Feline Health Center (the initiative was actually the brainchild of the late Dr. James Richards, who was the director of the center), the Morris Animal Foundation, the ASPCA, and American Humane were among the organizations that were present and participated.

“Rather than commiserating about what a sad state of affairs we have, we worked on developing a game plan,” said Dale, who moderated the event. “It was sort of a virgin point of view on agreeing what the problem is – it’s enormous,” Dale added.

According to Dale, there is no doubt that nowhere near the same amount of research dollars are spent supporting studies of cat health and behavior as are spent on studies of dog health and behavior.

He stated, “There aren’t as many researchers interested in doing feline studies as there used to be.”

Dale claims that the Morris Animal Foundation received more submissions regarding the health of llamas than it did regarding the health of cats. Dogs received a total of $1.7 million in budgetary support in 2008, while cats received only $602,000. In addition, Dale mentioned that there were 119 study pre-proposals for canines, whereas there were only 37 for felines.

Despite the existence of the Winn Feline Foundation’s Bria Fund, which was established specifically for the purpose of researching the disease, Dale claims that there is insufficient funding for research on feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

According to Dale, FIP affects anywhere from 5 or 6 to 10 percent of kittens, which, considering there are 82 million cats in the world, is a significant number. It is inexcusable that we are not going to spend money on fixing it.

Dale is of the opinion that everything can be traced back to how people in general view cats. He claims that our group is a canine society. We have progressed alongside dogs. It’s common knowledge among animal lovers that cats are not just miniature versions of dogs.

“We have a different perspective on cats,” says Dale. They are unique in their own particular way.

People have a tendency to think that cats don’t need as much care and attention as dogs do because of the perception that they are standoffish and prefer to spend their time alone. This is one of the many widespread misconceptions about cats. In addition to this, they are better able to conceal illness.

There has been a consistent decrease in the number of veterinary visits for cats, despite the fact that there has been an increase in the cat population, according to troubling statistics that were published by the American Veterinary Medical Association in the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. In 2006, 36.3% of households with cats but no dogs did not have access to any form of veterinary care, whereas only 17.3% of households with dogs did not have access to any form of veterinary care. Despite the fact that there are approximately 82 million cats and 72 million dogs in the United States, the likelihood that a cat will not visit a veterinarian is two times higher for cats than it is for dogs. As a direct consequence of this, a significant number of feline diseases and illnesses remain unidentified and untreated.

Dale provided an overview of the two objectives that were established as a result of the CATalyst Summit; however, board approval from the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners is required for their implementation.

To begin, they came to an agreement to draft guidelines for veterinary professionals regarding the treatment of cats in practices, with the goal of making them more “cat-friendly.” Additionally, they resolved to educate people about the significance of receiving routine veterinary care.

Second, Dale will collaborate with well-known feline journalists such as Amy Shojai, Pam Johnson-Bennett, Beth Adelman, and Arden Moore to publish similar guidelines for the general public. He will be the driving force behind this endeavor.

Despite the fact that millions of people adore cats, many people despise them. Dale gives voice to what many of us who are cat lovers feel.

Because cats don’t really have eight other lives to live, he says that we need to fix the problem for all of the cats’ sake. “For the sake of all cats, we need to rectify the problem.”

The address of the website that Steve Dale maintains is www.stevedalepetworld.com.

You can get more information about The CATalyst Summit by visiting the event website at www.catalystsummit.org, visiting the newly launched website of the AAFP at www.catvets.com, or calling 1-877-4CATALYST.

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