Last week Malta welcomed some 500 veterinary surgeons who flew over to attend the 2016 European Feline Congress, conducted by the International Society of Feline Medicine.

The assembly of vets for the ISFM congress is an annual event usually held in top destinations around Europe, so we can consider ourselves fortunate that Malta has been chosen for this year’s congress.

From the veterinary aspect, it provides a great opportunity to network with other vets who have a special interest in feline medicine. It also offers a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and compare approaches to the treatment of cats.

Dogs and cats have always been the most popular pets by far, with dogs always at the forefront in terms of preference between the two. However, in the more developed countries, the trend over the last decade or so has been that cats are gradually closing the gap.

This trend has also been reflected in Malta where our lifestyle has become similarly accelerated, living spaces are becoming ever smaller and an increasing number of people are either living alone or tend to be out at work for most of the day.

Because of this, traditional dog lovers who find themselves unable to keep a dog because their lifestyle no longer supports that kind of commitment are increasingly turning to cats. One overwhelming factor in this changeover is that they are generally animal lovers who can’t bear to be without a pet at home – at least not without a sapient pet that interacts closely and bonds with them, such a dog… or a cat.

Traditional dog lovers who find themselves unable to keep a dog because their lifestyle no longer supports that kind of commitment are increasingly turning to cats

Cats, however, are not small dogs and they come with their own totally different set of requirements. They also bring with them their own particular problems. Although the internet has become an important source of information, it is worth bearing in mind that it is a very large place where it is easy to get lost – so it is always better to have a reliable source with the right professional advice.

The ISFM is closely affiliated with International Cat Care, a highly respected society that has been working hard to advance knowledge of standards in the treatment of cats by cat owners, breeders and vets.

If you are a cat owner, breeder, cattery operator or a stray cat feeder and you like to stay updated with what is happening in world cat health, I strongly recommend that you check out the website run by the International Cat Care – which is available at

Whether you are a dedicated cat carer, feline breeder or simply a cat owner interested in matters relating to cat health, you will be able to read about several feline conditions worth knowing about.

The website also provides valuable advice as to how best work together with your veterinarian in the treatment and care needed by your cat. You can also sign up for a free monthly e-magazine.

The ISFM, the society’s scientific branch, works hand in hand with veterinary surgeons across the world by exchanging the latest in veterinary medical findings and information related to the care of cats. Most importantly, it is highly regarded for the excellent standards it aims for. Witness to this is the quality of the keynote speakers who delivered lectures in Malta and who hail from veterinary faculties of universities all across Europe.

Over the past five days, many different aspects of feline medicine were discussed: from findings related to innovative treatment of diseases and medical conditions, to new surgical procedures and the latest developments in diagnostic tools.

The congress also benefitted from the contributions of the main sponsors that represent some of the most important veterinary pharmaceutical laboratories around the world. All this contributes to the continuous development that is so necessary within any medical profession.

Dr Martin Debattista is a veterinary surgeon.

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