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By Chris Stalker V.N.

Feline Advisory Bureau’s Annual Conference 2006
October 28 2006

An overview by Chris Stalker V.N.
Photographs by Chris Stalker & Courtesy of the FAB Library

This year’s FAB Annual Conference was held at The Apollo Hotel, Basingstoke. It is some years since I have been able to attend the conference and I was delighted to be able to actually get to this superb event this year.

There were over 150 delegates attending, including many Veterinary Surgeons, Veterinary Nurses, cat breeders and other dedicated cat-lovers! I was very pleased to meet up with some old friends and also to meet some other FAB members.

Author Vicky Halls was on hand to sign her superb books.

During the breaks there were several stands that the delegates could visit. The day was sponsored by Royal Canin and Intervet and both companies had literature and advice on hand. In addition, well-known author of feline behaviour books, Vicky Halls, was available to sign copies of her latest books.

The Blue Cross was also in attendance, with Steven Broomfield available to discuss the charity’s work and to offer literature to the attendees. Karen Green of Medichem (makers of Trigene) had lots of goodies available to the delegates on the Medichem stand.

The Blue Cross’ Steven Bloomfield.

In this aticle, I hope to give you an overview of the day. I include some notes (see italics), kindly supplied by FAB, to give you a taster of what was on offer, in the way of presentations, by the excellent speakers…

Medichem’s Karen Green talks to Veterinary Receptionist and a Croydon Animal Samaritans volunteer, Maureen Postans.

The day began at 9.00 am with coffee and registration, followed by the first session:
Kerry Simpson opened up the proceedings with an excellent presentation on, Heart Disease in the Older Cat. Kerry’s talk focused on some of the potential heart diseases suffered by older cats and the treatment options for these conditions.

“Geriatric cats can suffer from a range of both primary and secondary heart conditions. Many of the primary heart conditions will have been present since young-middle age but the signs of disease may not manifest until the cat reaches its latter years.

However, many systemic diseases that cats suffer from (such as hyperthyroidism, hypertension) can also have affects on the heart. It is important to differentiate between primary cardiac conditions and those that have arisen due to another disease process. The treatment goal for primary cardiac conditions is to stabilise the signs of heart disease, whereas many of the secondary cardiac diseases can be significantly improved by treatment of the underlying condition”.

KKerry Simpson and friend.

Nicki Reed was our next speaker, her chosen topic was, Seizuring Cats.

“Seizures in cats can often be difficult to diagnose, as their appearance in cats is often more subtle than in dogs. A case of idiopathic epilepsy was described, including the investigations performed to make this diagnosis. This was then followed by two other cases of cats suffering from seizures”.

After a short coffee break, talks resumed with a presentation from Andrea Harvey, entitled, What clues the skin can give us about systemic diseases:

Andrea Harvey and George.

“The presence of skin abnormalities such as hair loss, redness, scaling and ulcerations does not always mean that disease is limited to the skin. In some cases, certain features of skin disease can give important clues about the presence of a more serious underlying disease.

This lecture focused on three cats with unusual and serious diseases, where skin disease was the presenting complaint. Recognising the clues given by the skin makes all the difference in reaching a correct diagnosis, and treating the underlying disease”.

Sarah Heath and Timbit.

Just before lunch, Sarah Heath’s presentation, Feline Behaviour - some unusual cases explained, held the audience spellbound. Sarah’s talk was illustrated by some video footage and photographs, illustrating some of the problems encountered with multi-cat households.

There was then a break for lunch in the hotel restaurant and a FAB update and AGM. Once everyone had reassembled, Clare Rusbridge took the floor to discuss, Strokes – causes, treatment and prognosis.

Angie Hibbert and Fizz.

Cerebrovascular accidents (Stroke) are rare in UK cats. By definition a “Stroke” is the neurological signs occurring after disruption to the brain blood supply.

The causes of stokes and their treatment was discussed by Clare, followed by a look at some brain diseases, that are commonly misdiagnosed as strokes. The classic syndrome of feline stroke is referred to as Feline Ischemic Encephalopathy (FIE) and refers to occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Cats typically present with unilateral forebrain signs such as blindness, circling, hemiparesis, seizures and personality change.

Clare Rusbridge answered some delegates’ questions.

In the UK it is rare compared to North Eastern USA where there is a predilection during the summer months. The reason for this geographic variation is that FIE appears to be due, at least in some cases, to a migration of parasitic Cuterebra larvae into the cats' brains after entering through the nose. Another cause of stroke in the cat is heart valve or major blood vessel disease which results in embolic (i.e. a free mass travelling through the blood stream) occlusion of a major blood vessel.

A stroke is diagnosed by MRI but once a diagnosis is made the cat should be investigated for potential underlying causes. Management is typically supportive e.g. drugs which reduce brain swelling and treatment of the underlying cause e.g. Ivermectin in the case of aberrant Cuterebra larval migration.”

Claire McKibben from PetPlan.

After a short tea break, the two concluding lectures followed:
Angie Hibbert took us through a very interesting case history, Sophie’s skin - a case of hyperadrenocorticism.

“Sophie, a seven year old domestic shorthair cat was referred to the Feline Centre for investigation of excessive thirst and non-healing skin wounds in May 2005.

Sophie was diagnosed with hyperadrenocorticism. Hyperadrenocorticism (or Cushing's syndrome) is a rare hormonal disease in cats. The signs associated with the disease are due to excessive circulating levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and include excessive thirst and the development of fragile skin. Sophie's condition required intensive medical and surgical treatment".

The final presentation of the day was given jointly by Sarah Heath & Claire Rusbridge, Orofacial pain syndrome and other strange behavioural disorders.

“Feline orofacial pain syndrome (FOPS) is a clinical condition of domestic cats where affected individuals will exhibit behaviour which is suggestive of acute and lingering oral and/or facial pain. The Burmese breed appears predisposed.

FOPS is associated with exaggerated licking and chewing movements accompanied by pawing at the face and the condition may progress to the point of individuals causing severe lacerations of the tongue and cheeks and excoriation of the skin over the maxillary and occipital regions of the head.

The aetiology of this condition appears to be complex. It shows some similarities to trigeminal neuralgia (in humans) which is characterised by paroxysmal bouts of pain in the distribution of the trigeminal nerve, usually the jaw.

The pain may be precipitated by trigger factors of which the most common is facial movement e.g. chewing. Treatment needs to be assessed on an individual care basis, but factors such as dental disease and environmental (physical and social) stressors must be taken into consideration. Use of appropriate medication e.g. neurogenic painkillers has been shown to be beneficial in some cases.”

The Speakers

Kerry Simpson
Kerry is the FAB Lecturer at Edinburgh University. After graduating from Edinburgh, Kerry worked in small animal practice in Lincolnshire, only to return to the University two years later to study for a PhD on the effects of various feline geriatric diseases on the heart.

Nicky Reed
After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, Nicki spent several years in general practice before returning to the University to manage the Small Animal Clinic and subsequently become Head of the First Opinion Service. In August 2004, Nicki took up her current post as the FAB Senior Clinical Scholar at Edinburgh.

Andrea Harvey
Andrea Harvey is the FAB Clinical Assistant in Feline Medicine at the University of Bristol. Andrea graduated from Bristol in 2000 and spent a year and a half in small animal practice. In 2002 she returned to Bristol to undertake a three year residency in feline medicine, funded by FAB. Having thoroughly enjoyed her residency at Bristol, she was delighted to be appointed as FAB Clinical Assistant in Feline Medicine in April 2005.

Sarah Heath
Sarah qualified from Bristol University in 1988 and spent four years in mixed general practice before setting up a behaviour medicine referral practice in 1992. She sees cases at monthly behavioural clinics at Liverpool University Veterinary School where she is an Honorary Lecturer in small animal behavioural medicine.

In addition she also sees cases at clinics within private veterinary practices in the North West of England and carries out house visit consultations. Her research interests include old age related behaviour problems, multi-cat households and links between feline behaviour and clinical disease.

Clare Rusbridge

Clare Rusbridge graduated from Glasgow in 1991 and completed a small animal internship at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. After a year in small animal practice in Cambridgeshire, she joined the Royal Veterinary College to undertake a BSAVA/Petsavers residency in neurology and subsequently spent a year at the RVC as a staff clinician in neurology.

Since 1997 she has operated a small animal neurology referral service at the Stone Lion Veterinary Centre gaining RCVS Specialist status in 1999. The practice has its own MRI scanner which is particularly suitable for cats and Clare has a strong interest in feline neurology especially epilepsy, neuropathic pain syndromes and inherited disease.

Angie Hibbert

Angie Hibbert graduated from the University of Bristol in 2000 and worked in a small animal practice for four and a half years. During this time her interest in feline medicine developed and she particularly enjoyed working on geriatric cases. Angie took up her current post as FAB Resident at Bristol in January 2005.