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Fred Scott Feline Symposium remains gold standard in feline health

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Photo: John Enright/CVM

During the last weekend of July, feline-focused veterinary professionals gathered in person and remotely for the 35th Annual Fred Scott Feline Symposium, which has served as the preeminent conference focused on feline health since its inception in 1988.

Symposium attendees had the opportunity to learn from and interact with leaders in their respective fields from within the Cornell community and abroad. The symposium, which is presented by the Cornell Feline Health Center, provides attendees with a unique and fun weekend of learning, networking and connecting with friends both old and new.

Topics covered by presenters included updates on the diagnosis and treatment of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline communication, social needs of cats, non-insulin based therapeutics for diabetes mellitus, and normal biological variation of thyroid hormones, amongst others. 

“This year’s 35th anniversary celebration of the Fred Scott Feline Symposium was a tour de force in feline focused veterinary education,” said Bruce Kornreich, D.V.M. ’92, Ph.D. ’05, Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center. “The symposium also provided both in person and virtual attendees with fun, engaging and unique opportunities to socialize, network and learn from one another.”

Last year’s symposium represented a technological milestone, as it was presented in the first-ever hybrid format offered by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The 2023 version built upon this experience, marking its second-straight hybrid offering following the exclusively virtual offerings that were necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Based upon feedback from attendees, it is likely that all future offerings will be provided in this hybrid format.

This important technological milestone was made possible by the college’s office of Continuing Education and Educational Support Services.

“This year’s hybrid conference featured engaging discussions, enlightening presentations and a shared passion for feline companions,” said Vanessa Maley, event and operations coordinator in the office of Educational Support Services. “Our planning team agrees that this year’s symposium felt like the best year yet - with great participation and networking throughout the whole weekend, both in-person and online.”

A total of 368 attendees registered for this year’s symposium, including 275 virtual guests from over 30 countries across the world, including Egypt, Japan, Brazil, Greece, Guatemala, Iran, Poland, Spain, Romania, Pakistan, Taiwan and Uruguay. On-site attendance increased by a healthy margin compared to last year, jumping from 71 registrants in 2022 to 93 in 2023.

“Our sincere gratitude goes out to all attendees, speakers and sponsors who made this 35th annual event a resounding success,” said Maley. “We’re excited to welcome everyone back next year and to see some new faces as well.”

While the primary focus of the gathering centered around the sharing of knowledge and improvement of feline health, attendees were also able to pair the serious discussions with social events during the weekend.

“Beyond the enriching content, attendees onsite enjoyed local food and beverage, live music and more,” said Nahla Minges, event manager in the office of Educational Support Services. “The symposium provided the perfect backdrop for networking and fostering meaningful connections among attendees.”

Along with a BBQ and wine tasting that bookended each full day, those in physical attendance were also able to benefit from onsite massage therapists. Guests were able to enjoy virtual yoga over the first two days of the event, along with live music Saturday evening. Another popular social event is the virtually delivered breakfast with your pets, which has grown in popularity over the last four years.

Attendees represented a wide range of positions within the field of veterinary medicine. Guests consisted of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students. One of those guests was Dr. Kathryn Stoltzfus, a member of the Cornell Feline Health Center and Fred Scott Feline Symposium veteran.

“The 35th Annual Fred Scott Feline Symposium has been yet another great weekend to connect with feline practitioners from all over the Northeast and really North America,” said Stoltzfus. “It’s an opportunity for everybody to come share our experiences as cat practitioners and to reconnect with old friends and develop new friendships. I think that's what's important and what makes this event spectacular.”

Along with the work being done by Maley and Minges, the symposium’s success relies heavily upon the technical expertise of Instructional Technologist, Dave Frank and Classroom & Events A/V Support Specialist, Robert Cortez-Rodriguez. Both have helped pioneer the hybrid delivery system that has now become common at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Even considering the success of the last two years, Kornreich knows that continuous growth in both content and delivery is necessary for the Fred Scott Feline Symposium to maintain its status as the preeminent conference on feline health.

“Each year we strive to improve the symposium’s offerings based upon feedback from our veterinary partners and advances in our knowledge and technology,” said Kornreich. “Our team is so happy with the way things worked this year, and we’re very excited to continue to push the creative envelope as we plan for future symposia.”

Story and video by John Enright