Cat Friendly Cities ’09

By Steve Dale

Phoenix, AZ. Dogs may have the claim as our best friends, but America’s number one companion are cats. There are simply more pet cats than there are dogs (81.7 million cats to 71.2 million dogs). To celebrate appropriate cat care and the cat/human bond, the CATalyst Council held a press event at the American Animal Hospital Association Conference in Phoenix (on March 27) to announce the ten most cat friendly cities. Tampa, FL headed the list, followed by Phoenix.

Rounding out the top-10, San Francisco, CA, named the third cat friendliest; followed by Portland, OR; Denver, CO; Boston, MA; Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Atlanta, GA and at number 10 Minneapolis, MN.

A who’s who of veterinary medicine attended the press event which Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of the CATalyst Council described how the cat friendliest cities were determined. Considerations included the total number of tabbies in town receiving quality care provided by, American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) hospitals, Emergency and Critical Care specialists, boarded veterinary behavior specialists, internal medicine specialists, and members of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Brunt explained that a part of the CATalyst mission is to reverse the trend of dogs seeing veterinarians twice as often as cats. “”Our goal is to champion the cat,”” added Dan Kramer, chair of the CATalyst Council.

Where the economy has hit pet owners, and therefore the care of their pets, there’s a fear that cats may pay a higher price than dogs. While some desperate owners just let their dogs loose to roam, that event happens far more often with cats. People incorrectly seem to assume cats manage on their own.

Providing identification, including microchipping, was also another factor in determining the cat friendliest cities. Other criteria included the number of Cat Fanciers’ Association cat shows held in a city, number of subscribers to Cat Fancy magazine and number of the total of Society of Animal Welfare Administrators member animal shelters within a municipality. Also, ‘extra credit’ was given to City’s whose Mayors happens to have at least one cat. If the cat purrs, the hope is that the Mayor does too.

To extend gratitude on behalf of Phoenix, Ted Pennison, director of convention sales of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau presented Brunt with a ‘cat appreciation’ proclamation.

Among specific reasons Tampa earned their place at the top of the cat tree is that they landed first for the number of pet hospitals accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, second for the number of American Association of Feline Practitioner member practices and third for the total number of veterinarians per capita. Phoenix scored second for the number of cats per capita, and is second for the number of specialists in Emergency and Critical Care. Phoenix landed fifth for the total vets per capita. And Phoenix happens to have the most subscribers to Cat Fancy. Also, many of the top-10 cities, and all the top five, were noted for the work their shelters achieve, particularly educational initiatives.

Brunt says, “”Our goal is to educate people about what cats really are about. And to talk about subtle signs of illness in cats, to begin a conversation that it’s all about the cat.””

CATalyst is a unique coalition of representatives of veterinary medicine (including the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners and others) working together with shelters, animal control, industry, nonprofits, and academia.

Kramer, a CATalyst founder and, and senior marketing manager of industry relations at Pfizer Animal Health says that the unique coalition is going to make a difference for cats, so more cats receive quality veterinary care, including regular wellness exams and ultimately more cats will be adopted from shelters and fewer cats relinquished.

Kramer added that since the American Animal Hospital Association celebrates excellence in veterinary standards, the AAHA conference seemed the perfect place to make the Cat Friendliest Cities announcement. Perhaps, he should have said the Purr-fect place.

(In full disclosure, Steve Dale is on the Board of the Non Profit CATalyst Council)

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services


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