An innovative new program from the Catalyst Council brings veterinarians, shelters and rescue organizations together to facilitate finding forever homes for cats and keeping cats healthy once they are in their new homes.
Veterinarians and rescue organizations often operate independently, and each face their own, unique challenges – often to the detriment of the very animals they’re trying to help. Catalyst Council is working on fostering effective partnerships between these organizations.
I had a chance to talk to Jane Brunt, DVM, the executive director of the CATalyst Council and owner of The Cat Hospital at Towson, about this important program.
What prompted Catalyst Council to start this program?
While initially we focused on bringing awareness and educational resources to veterinarians and cat owners, we’ve known from the beginning that the sheltering community plays a keystone role in the lifelong health and welfare of cats. To better understand how shelters and veterinarians might work together to help cats and educate their care-givers, CATalyst conducted studies exploring shelter-veterinary relationships. We found that most relationships are of mutual support and respect, and that we could do more by helping enhance that relationship at a local community level.
What are the goals of the program?
Frankly, it’s to help cats live a happy and healthy life. We have significant data on cat health*, and with regular health care, these all-to-common problems can be prevented, treated and/or managed. For example:
- by the age of three, 70% of companion cats have dental disease, which always progresses if left untreated
- since 2006, there’s been a 68.8% increase in stomatitis, a painful inflammation of the gums, and the prevalence of painful tooth resorptive lesions has increase seventeen-fold
- greater than 40% of all cats (some studies show more) are obese or overweight
- more than 1 in 10 of cats ten years of age or older have kidney disease
- 11% of cats ten years of age or older have a heart murmur.
We want to improve those statistics by starting early. With Catalyst Connection, the shelter helps the adopter select a veterinarian they’ll visit soon after the adoption. The chosen veterinarian automatically receives the pet’s health records from the shelter and then helps the adopter schedule a free examination and behavior and home environment counseling. Everyone wants their new furry friend to be happy, healthy and enriched in its new home!
Through Catalyst Connection, we are promoting a sustaining cycle of adopt…home…health. Shelters benefit, adopters benefit, veterinarians benefit, communities benefit. And most of all, adopted pets benefit. Oh, and we let dogs use the same program…
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Changing people’s beliefs about cats as well as how they take care of cats. Many people say that cats are independent and don’t require our care, that they can take care of themselves, and that they don’t need healthcare. While Conscious Cat readers know about cats’ needs, most people- and many veterinarians!- need to get with the program, recognize what science tells us and take care of these amazing beings we call cats.
What do you enjoy most about working on the program?
Meeting and working with so many diverse and interesting people who want to create positive change for cats and who want to show them in a positive light and to help them live happy, healthy and enriched lives. All nine of them.
Can you share some success stories?
Our program was recently featured in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The story showcases successful programs in Delaware, Oregon and Ohio.
What can cat guardians do to help make this program successful?
Be part of the network to support cat adoption from shelters and rescues that work with shelters – especially those which already participate in collaborative community efforts like shared foster care.
For more information about Catalyst Connection, please visit CatalystCouncil.org.
* Source: Banfield, State of Pet Health 2006-2016
Image via Catalyst Connection Backgrounder