2017 Feline Science Symposium Agenda

8:45 am 

Check-in, coffee and light breakfast, networking

9:30 am 

Dr. Monique UdellExploring Cat-Human Attachment

In the United States, cats outnumber dogs as pets. Surprisingly there has been much less research on the social behavior and cognition of cats, including the traits that make them so successful in human controlled environments. In this talk Dr. Monique Udell will discuss the latest discoveries related to the human-cat bond, focusing on attachment development and the study of attachment styles in the domestic cat.

10:25 am

Mikel Delgado - Peaceable Kingdom: Using Feline Science to Increase the Success of Multi-Cat Households

Because cats are solitary hunters, they often get mislabeled as asocial as a species, and are frequently condemned to a lifetime in a “single cat household.” But many attempts to integrate multiple cats into a home fail, leading to stress, injuries, and behavior problems. This talk will review our growing understanding of cats’ social lives and family structures. Through case studies, I will illustrate how we can enhance the lives of cats in multi-cat households, ensure smooth introductions between cats, and solve problems when they arise. 

11:20 am

Short Break

11:35 am

Dr. Tony BuffingtonEnrichment for our Feline Friends

Cats most commonly respond to being caged in shelters and veterinary clinics with fear.  Their senses are often assaulted with strange and threatening surroundings, people, sounds, smells.  It doesn’t have to be this way, and I will share with attendees what to look for when observing the cat, the cage it is confined in, and the areas outside the cage – and tell you which is most important!  I will also share practical ways to reduce cats’ perception of threat to help them cope with our care, and how to assess the effectiveness of enrichment efforts.

12:30 pm

Vegetarian buffet lunch and self-guided shelter tours

1:30 pm

Dr. Jeannine BergerThinking Inside the Box: Troubleshooting Inappropriate Elimination from a Veterinary and Behavioral Perspective

House soiling problems are very common in cats, and can be divided into two general categories – urine marking and inappropriate elimination.  Cats diagnosed with either type of house soiling problem are at a higher risk for surrender and/or euthanasia.  Both of these behaviors are normal behaviors for cats; however, a correct assessment has to be made to successfully address, treat, or manage these problems as well as their underlying cause.

2:25 pm 

Dr. Valarie TynesDealing with Feline Destructive Scratching

Scratching behavior is a normal part of the cat’s behavioral repertoire but it is a behavior that cat owners often find very problematic.  Many different interventions have been suggested for preventing or redirecting the behavior to appropriate surfaces in the home but none are 100% effective, 100% of the time. While cats are quite trainable, many pet owners will not take the time to find out how to train their cat to limit their scratching behavior to provided scratching posts. Failure to control this problem is likely to result either in relinquishment to a shelter or a request for surgical declawing. Now a new option is available. Feliscratch, a synthetic analogue of the feline interdigital semiochemical has been studied for close to ten years and has been shown to be highly effective at directing cats to scratching posts and decreasing destructive scratching in the home. This presentation will review this data as well as other commonly used means for controlling scratching in the home.

3:20 pm

Short Break

3:35 pm

Dr. Sara BennettFeline Behavior Modification and Training 

Attendees will learn about the various behavior modification techniques that can be applied to cats in order to change their behavior.  Definitions of basic techniques and specific examples of each will be described.  Specific situations appropriate to the use of each as well as requirements for successful and appropriate use will be investigated.  Welfare implications of different techniques will also be discussed. Examples on how to use each technique in a shelter setting will also be reviewed.

4:30 pm

Close of Symposium