Improving the health and well-being of cats through outreach

Here at the Cornell Feline Health Center, outreach is an important part of what we do on a daily basis. We view this vital aspect of our operation as being crucial to our mission, and we undertake a number of activities focused on assisting cat lovers and feline-focused veterinary professionals in their efforts to improve the world for all cats.

Our Outreach initiatives include programs such as the Purrfect Weight iOS app, which helps cat owners design a custom weight loss program for their overweight cats using foods of their choosing, and our Cats for Comfort program, which facilitates adoptions of cats from the Tompkins County SPCA by seniors living in local assisted living facilities. These are just two examples of how we provide information, support, and resources to the cat-loving public with a focus on improving feline health and wellness (as well as that of those who love them).

Another of our outreach activities is the production of a series of feline health topic brochures that we make available to veterinary professionals and the general public.  These brochures cover a broad spectrum of topics ranging from common feline diseases, to the management of feline behavior problems, to understanding the grieving process that takes place upon the loss of a beloved feline friend. We make these available to veterinary practices across the country for a nominal fee that covers the production costs of these printed resources while allowing us to assist veterinarians in getting useful health information into the hands of cat owners and those considering adopting a cat.

With up-to-date, reliable information provided in an understandable and visually appealing format that includes illustrations and other graphics, the 25 health brochures that we currently offer provide practicing veterinary professionals with a vital tool to educate their clients about important feline health issues.

These well-known and widely respected brochures are an effective way for veterinary teams to educate their clientele about important health issues that their cats may be experiencing. Although nothing can take the place of a veterinarian explaining health issues to a concerned owner, our health brochures provide reinforcement of a veterinarian’s explanations, while providing supplemental information that improves their understanding. The information they provide often prompts additional questions that cat owners can discuss with their veterinarian, and they also direct readers to additional online resources on our Cornell Feline Health Center website, which is continually updated with reliable feline health information.

Keeping the information contained within these brochures up-to-date is an ongoing process, and we are happy to announce the release of our most recently updated brochure that addresses feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a serious and commonly fatal disease of cats caused by the mutation of a relatively benign coronavirus that is usually found in the gastrointestinal intestinal tract of cats.

Working in collaboration with Dr. Gary Whittaker, professor of virology here at the College and the world’s foremost expert on the molecular mechanism of FIP, we have updated this brochure to include reference to a number of important issues regarding this important feline disease, including a controversial therapy that has recently been developed but has yet to receive FDA approval.

The Cornell Feline Health Center has been a long-time supporter of Dr. Whittaker’s work, and our collaboration on the production of this new FIP brochure and the continued support of his laboratory’s vital research is just one example of the impactful work that the support of donors like you makes possible.

Since we strongly believe that informed cat owners make the best owners, and since many people considering adopting a cat may not be aware of some of the natural behaviors

they exhibit, nor of the responsibilities that owners take on when they adopt a new feline friend, we were very happy to have recently produced a new informational brochure titled What to Expect When Adopting a Feline Friend. This new brochure prospectively informs those considering cat adoption about what they can expect when they bring a new cat into their home, including behaviors that are natural but may be perceived as inappropriate, how to intervene in such behaviors, common feline diseases, and responsibilities regarding the provision of regular veterinary care.

Thanks to the generosity of loyal donors like you, we were able to provide over 65,000 of this and another of our recently updated brochures titled “Destructive Behavior: Management Strategies for Your Cat’s Innate Behaviors” to over 500 shelters and veterinary clinics across the U.S., free of charge. We believe that outreach efforts such as these will make potential adopters better prepared to provide their feline friends with happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives, and we could not undertake outreach efforts like these without the continued dedicated support of our donors.

We look forward to regularly updating the content of our existing feline health brochures as well as to expanding the breadth of topics covered by this important outreach program. By doing so, and by continuing to expand our other outreach, education, and research support initiatives, we feel confident that we can make the world a better place for all cats.