My challenge when writing this post about the Purina Better With Pets Summit 2015 is to try to convey to you just how incredible it was with about being overly verbose and without giving you photo overload! Warning! I don't think that is possible!
I had the honor of being one of a number of digital influencers (Purina's term for us, which I LOVED!), who were brought together with some of the brightest minds in pet science and culture to share how big, innovative ideas are improving the emotional wellness of pets and the people who love them. This was my second Summit, and I could never have imagined it would surpass my first, but it did! Everything Purina does is done with perfectionism and class, and they exhibit caring and concern for all of us that is unsurpassed. I have been a digital influencer for Purina since 2012, and each event I have had the privilege of attending has outshone the one that came before.
I wanted to include this photo, because I found it fitting that when I arrived at the airport in Detroit, one of the first sights I saw was this:
I arrived in one of my all-time favorite cities, New York, Monday, November 2nd and entered The W Hotel where the first person I saw was Dr.Jessica Vogelsang, author of All Dogs Go To Kevin, and the blog Pawcurious. After shrieking with glee because I hadn't seen her in forever, the lobby quickly became a "mini-reunion" for my fellow digital influencers, as many arrived the same time as me.
Monday evening we were gifted with time to explore NYC and to reconnect with friends, and I took advantage of that by going to a scrumptious Greek dinner with Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101. The restaurant was called Avra, and while the hostesses were less than friendly, the food was AMAZING!
After dinner, since we had to be up super early to board the buses that would transport us to the Brooklyn Expo Center where the Summit was being held, after I got my Jimmy Fallon fix, it was "La-La-Land" for me!!
Even in the early morning hours, in spite of not being thoroughly caffeinated, there was electricity and excitement in the air as a bus load of communicators from all different specialties chattered away filling the bus with a jovial hum of conversation!
We waited in line to receive our badges and I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a number of Purina employees whom I hadn't seen in some time! We had time to mill about, grab a shot (or two or three) of espresso, and take some photos with our friends, (and I took one of the photographer who was photographing US!), before the sessions began.
|Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat|
and I with our heads cut off!!
Hadn't seen her in forever
and it was fantastic to connect again!
|This photographer was a|
super good sport and allowed me
to take photos of HIM!!
Then it was time for the summit to begin!
Panel 1 was up next and that was "An Evolving Relationship with Cats?" which offered a close look at the dynamic, possibly evolving relationship between people and cats, and what it might suggest for a new generation of pet owners. It was moderated by Hal Herzog, Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University. His research focuses on the psychology of human-animal interactions, including attitudes toward the use of animals and the impact of pets on human health.
Other panelists included Sandra Lyn, a behaviorist at Purina, where she leads the Nestle' Purina Global R&D Feeding Behavior research program, Christina Ha, co-founder, Meow Parlour, NYC's first cat cafe'. Meow Parlour's goal is to create a calm environment for connecting adoptable cats with cat-loving humans. Last but not least, Mikel Maria Delgado, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and co-owner of Feline Minds, offering consulting, training and support related to cat behavior for cat owners, animal shelters, rescue groups and other organizations.
|Photo Courtesy of|
My "take-aways" from this panel:
- 1 out of 3 Americans have cats, there are more cats than dogs in American homes.
- Soon millenials will be the largest percentage of cat owners, used to be the "Boomers" but the Millenials will be taking over!
- Common stereotype is cat people are more introverted, but social media is changing that due to cat cafes etc. Cat people are becoming much more social!
- Older people are more secure and less anxious about whether or not their pets love them, younger people tend to question whether they are loved by their pets much more.
- Interaction with cats are better if the CAT initiates the interaction (this was one of my faves)
- Cats give back in proportion to what you give them
- No two cats are the same
- People who love both cats and dogs are more open to new experiences and more out-going
- More work needs to be done to educate people about cats.
Panel 2: Stress, Our Pets and Us was the next panel. This panel featured a discussion of the sources and effects of stress on pets, and how to manage stressors to enhance your pet's well-being. The panel was led by moderator Marty Becker, D.V.M, Chief Veterinary Correspondent, American Humane Society, and it featured Ragen McGowan, Senior Scientist, Nestle' Purina, her research incorporates a holistic approach including behavior and physiology to assess emotions in pets. She aims to understand what is positive for pets and quantify the human-animal bond from the pet's perspective. Also included was: Heather Lewis, Principal, Animal Arts an Architectural firm that has exclusively designed veterinary hospitals and animal care facilities since 1979.
Last but not least was Tony Buffington, D.V.M., Professor Ohio State University. His clinical interests include stress effects on disease, obesity, evidence-based medicine and effective medical communications.
My "take-aways" from this panel:
Environmental enrichment is main cure for bladder infections in cats.
Stressors in cats can be anything from changes in temp, change in perfume etc!
Did you know that dogs and cats prefer PASTEL colors?
Cats who are kept in cages at the Vet and in Shelters should be HIGH UP.....(horizontal bar vision)...they experience less stress if they are high up.
Good stress for cats and dogs can be found by playing and utilizing treat puzzles.
Cats and dogs prefer WORKING for their food, also known as "contrafreeloading" (the jury is still out with Cody in reference to this one, I don't think so!!)
Whenever cats and dogs live in a mixed environment it is important to have a SAFE HAVEN FOR THE CATS (I did that from day one with Cody, hence baby gates!)
The most important enrichment device at home for our pets is to have food puzzles, primarily for cats, but dogs benefit too!
Always think about things from the animal's perspective
Boredom can be just as bad for a pet's health as stress
The third panel was Raising Pets and Kids, and since I didn't have kids, I really didn't focus on my note-taking during this panel.
a play lab for agility dogs with wearable technology that monitored their activity as they played, and an area where attendees can see how nutrition impacts cognition and emotional wellness in pets.
Due to the length of this post, please join us THIS WEDNESDAY where we will be featuring Part II of this series which will showcase the CATS that were at the Better With Pets Summit (and some humans too!!!), as well as a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Then, please join us on Monday, November 16 when we will feature our Purina "Call to Action" post.
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is a global leader in the pet care industry. NestléPurina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.