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I’ve done lots of things in tents in my life but I’d never done CPD in a tent…so as I was enjoying the sun and catching up with friends in the fresh air at Noel Fitzpatrick’s Vet Festival recently I thought I’d give it a go. It was better than I expected. We had headphones on which meant that we could hear what was being discussed regardless of what was going on elsewhere and it was refreshingly comfortable and relaxed. I could have picked any one of a number of things that interest me in order to dip my toe into CPD under canvas, but I thought I’d do something relevant to my personal life and go to Danielle Gunn-Moore’s sessions on geriatric cats as I have an 18 year oldKorat.

Our Korat is noticeably stiffer than he used to be. In winter he’s slow coming down stairs and he makes a thump now if he jumps off the bed. We’ve already fitted him a different cat flat to make his way in and out of the house more easily….this also gives him a route that stops him having to climb fences, face down our dogs and the now younger, more aggressive neighbourhood cats. We did wonder about non-steroidals as we know that there are some good published results with carprofen, but as he drinks from the shower occasionally I decided that I would rather avoid them for as long as we can.

He’s already on an appropriate diet and at the moment he’s also on Yumove. He seems a bit less stiff than he was although whether that’s the warm weather or the Yumove I really couldn’t tell you with any degree of certainty. Danielle, who has an arthritic condition herself, said in her talk that there are some data on the effectiveness of green-lipped muscle extract in stifle arthritis in humans so at least there’s a good rationale for using it.

As much as anything else the Yumove for us has become part of the nightly routine. Part of the talk was about the problem of cats calling at night…the cat calls so the owner goes to fuss the cat…because the owner goes to fuss a cat that now wants more attention the behaviour becomes reinforced and the cat keeps calling. The nightly routine is important to me because I’m the only one that hears him. So we have a routine that I call ‘bedtime cocoa’. He gets locked in the living room with a small amount of treat food, dressed with his Yumove then he has a raised up cat bed on the sofa with a heating pad in it. Cocoa then bed. Because he’s now used to this routine he doesn’t call until the morning now.

For much of my life I’ve thought of cats as economically less valuable than dogs because, entertaining as they can be, most of the cats I’ve had have been relatively ‘low maintenance’. One of Danielle’s stats did make me think though. She said that about 25% of cats are elderly and in need of this kind of geriatric care so perhaps they are economically rather overlooked. A lot of what needs to be done is about being aware of the needs of elderly cats and how they differ from younger cats.

What we have found with our cat is that only a few years ago he was funny but fearsome. One of our teenagers was actually afraid of him. Now, as he’s aged he has mellowed and he’s very affectionate, attention seeking. The effect is that the girls love him more than ever.

So if our experience is anything like that of the owners of the other 25% of the population then they probably feel closer to their cats to and perhaps an awareness of their needs is worth thinking about; whilst there are occasionally things that need to be diagnosed (because they can sometimes be fixed) much of what needs to be done is really to do with environmental modification so can just as easily be considered by a vet nurse as by a vet.

When I get old I hope that I am as cuddly as our cat and my daughters are as interested in my needs as they are in his. ☺
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