American Association of Feline Practitioners 2023 Veterinary Conference

The seventh American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) conference, themed The Ins and Outs of Feline Nutrition and Gastroenterology, was held October 12 through 15 at the Renasant Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The conference was a hybrid event, so participants could earn continuing education (CE) credits, explore the exhibit hall in person or virtually, and meet with distinguished speakers from across the country who were available to offer expert insight.

Expert speakers

Thirty-six speakers shared a wide array of expert knowledge on various topics. Some popular presenters included:

  • Audrey Cook, BVM&S, FRCVS, MScVetEd, DACVIM (SAIM), DECVIM, DABVP (Feline) — Dr. Cook graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She completed an internship at North Carolina State University and a residency in small animal internal medicine at University of California, Davis. After a decade in private referral practice, Dr. Cook joined the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine faculty, and is a professor of small animal internal medicine and chief of the medicine service. Her special interests include endocrinology, gastroenterology, and interventional radiology.
  • Margaret Gruen, DVM, MVPH, PhD, DACVB — Dr. Gruen graduated from the University of Illinois. She completed an internship, a veterinary behavioral medicine residency, and her PhD in comparative biomedical sciences at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is currently associate professor of behavioral medicine. Dr. Gruen’s current research focuses on human-animal interaction, chronic pain quantification, and how pain, including activity, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction, affects daily life. She is also co-director of the veterinary college’s Feline Health Center.
  • Michael Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM — Dr. Lappin graduated from Oklahoma State University and completed an internship, internal medicine residency, and PhD in parasitology at the University of Georgia. He is the Kenneth W. Smith Professor in small animal clinical veterinary medicine at Colorado State University, the Center for Companion Animal Studies director, and the WSAVA One Health Committee chair. His primary areas of interest include infectious disease prevention, upper respiratory disease complex, and infectious causes of fever, diarrhea, and zoonoses.
  • Valerie Parker, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM, Nutrition) — Dr. Parker graduated from Tufts University, and completed an internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, a small animal internal medicine residency at Iowa State University, and a nutrition residency at Tufts University. She is currently a professor and clinician at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her primary areas of interest include kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, obesity, vitamin D metabolism, and nutritional disease management.

Educational sessions

Educational sessions provided cutting edge, high quality feline medicine education, including:

  • Nutritional counselor program — Attendees learned to structure and perform a nutritional consultation, including addressing common pet owner questions. The presenter worked through a feline renal case, demonstrating a nutritional consultation. She addressed this process’ importance for the cat, especially when switching them to a new food.
  • Diabetes masterclass — Five back to back sessions led by six expert speakers presented relevant feline diabete information that included oral hypoglycemics, SGLT-2 inhibitors safety and efficacy data, monitoring recommendations, and addressing complications. 
  • Controlling osteoarthritis (OA) pain in cats — This session focused on helping clients learn to recognize OA pain in cats and discussed anti-nerve growth factor monoclonal antibody treatment for pain control. The presenter shared real-world case studies that included before and after videos to demonstrate how OA treatment can help feline patients.
  • RECOVER CPR guidelines and updates — This lecture focused on key concepts from the newly updated RECOVER 2.0 guidelines, and included Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) updates related to felines.
  • Nursing and nutrition for the critical feline patient — Attendees learned helpful nursing techniques for anorexic hospitalized feline patients. Topics included improving the hospitalization environment to reduce stress, tips to recognize pain and nausea, and placement of enteral feeding tubes.
  • The vomiting cat — A two-part session covered using ultrasound to diagnose underlying vomiting causes in young and old cats. The first session reviewed the normal feline GI system’s appearance on ultrasound and contrasted the images with cats affected by chronic enteropathies and GI neoplasia. The second session focused on choosing ultrasound versus X-rays and helped participants become more confident about using ultrasound to diagnose intestinal foreign bodies, acute gastroenteritis, intussusception, and acute pancreatitis.


For an additional fee, veterinary professionals could participate in interactive workshops, including:

  • Feline Orthopedic Evaluation Workshop — Presenters discussed the approach for a clinically meaningful and efficient orthopedic evaluation of the cat. Topics included obtaining a relevant history, observing the cat, and the hands-on examination. Attendees gained hands-on and expert guided experience in techniques for successful feline orthopedic examinations. Cat Friendly approaches were emphasized to help participants augment their practice and build stronger patient-client bonds.
  • Cat Friendly Interactions and Handling Workshop — This updated presentation helped participants understand cats and why certain handling techniques work best. Attendees then broke up into small groups and had the opportunity to apply the handling techniques to live cats. 

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