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ID:	39775Cats are the cool members of the household arenít they?

After a brief period delighting you with their cuddliness they mature into a seeming sense of their own superiority, then slink about interacting with you only under their own terms. Seeking out the brightest or warmest spots they loaf in them teenager style well into adulthood. Many cope with middle-aged spread better than we do and even those with bat-wings get to the parts of your home that your dog caní't reach whilst demonstrating an agility beyond the dreams of even the most enhanced Russian gymnast. And as anno domini catches up with them they seem to grow old gracefully in a way that our human senior surfers canít learn even with access to plastic surgery or the Cunard line.

But do they grow old gracefully? Or does that grace hide an underlying problem? As your cat appears to mellow and slow down with age, could that be because it has arthritis for example? An increasing awareness of how cats behave driven by technology, research and clinical practices aimed at monitoring changed behaviour and assessing the subsequent response to treatment has led us to realise that many cats actually suffer from arthritis in old age.

My own increasing awareness of arthritis in older cats comes not from seeing an increasing number of elderly patients in clinical practice but from having the good fortune to be invited for CPD with a glass of refreshment at the recent iCatcare awards in London where annually cat-friendly products and advancements in feline veterinary management are celebrated for the benefit of cat welfare worldwide. Professor Stuart Carmichael opened the event with a reasonable question about iCatcare which was ďwhat do we doĒ and answering it by saying that we are about knowledge, the dissemination of that knowledge, and its application. In practical cat terms whether you are talking about the cat-friendly vet practice initiative or research into feline behaviour aimed at enabling veterinary surgeons and nurses to come up with strategies to help improve the lot of cats, that means getting the patient to the knowledge and the knowledge to the patient. According to Stuart Carmichael 80% of elderly cats have arthritis but are asymptomatic - if you get owners to watch the cats for behaviour changes, treat them, then observe if they return to their "old self" you'll often find a response.

Just being there on the day and hearing of whatís new in feline welfare tends to make you think more about cats.

I listened to what I heard on a sunny day at the Kensington roof gardens and thanked iCatcare for inviting me again and making my CPD enjoyable. As usual I followed up on what I learned at my CPD by checking out a few things on the internet. Then later that evening I reflected on the fact that my dancing wasnít improved by the glass of wine Iíd had at lunch time and that sticking to beer would deliver better short term outcomes and also help me to grow old gracefully.

But I also finished my day reflecting that in a divided world full of human problems the world is a better place to have not just cats to cuddle but also iCatcare to help vets look after them.

More on iCatcare CPD including pain recognition and management here.
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