The Brooklyn Expo Center in the historical neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is an unique glassed and airy space that is fast gaining a reputation of hosting innovative events that have had a lasting impact the cultural heartbeat of the city and reverberated beyond of views of the famous New York skyline from this side of the East River.
So it was an insightful choice for the Nestlé Purina PetCare Company Pets to stage the Purina Better With Summit at this famous venue. For three consecutive years, the Better with Pets Summit has brought together high profile names from all spheres of the pet world to learn from each other, exchange ideas. It is a gathering of veterinarians representing a variety of specialties, nutritional scientists, psychologists, writers, comic strip creators, animal rescuers, animal rights activists and lawyers, musicians and composers of special feline and canine music, authors, architects, media influencers, publicists pet retailers and cat café owners — a melting pot of pet people if you will, who all uphold the idea that pets and people are better together.
It is a coveted invitation and, without doubt, a highlight on my personal calendar.
This year’s theme explored emotional wellness, ways to improve the quality of life for people and pets alike. There were three panel discussions all highlighting this theme.
For the first time in this country, millennials are now the largest population group outnumbering the baby boomers. They are without doubt changing the way pet parents are raising their pets. Millennials are staying single longer and adopted pets before they even consider kids. The results of a recent survey of 1000 millennials showed that nearly half the recipients had a cat and that that 88 percent of cat owners consider themselves similar to their pets. Thus the first panel moderated by Professor Hal Herzog, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University explored millennial cat parents. It’s a topic I have been doing a lot of research on and consequently I enjoyed this portion very much.
The second panel provided an in-depth look at pets’ environments and the impact it may have on their stress levels. The third panel focused on the benefits of raising pets and kids together and how it brings unique benefits that extend beyond a typical human-animal bond.
A highlight of the event was a one-of-a-kind interactive exhibits that endorsed the emotional wellness theme by allowing attendees to experience first-hand ways to improve pet wellness. This hands-on component was divided into five educational zones. There was an excellent educational touch screen display which highlighted why its so important to take note of a cat’s innate needs such as the need to scratch and the desire for privacy and vertical space and highlighted how to incorporate such features in a home environment. There was a play lab for agility dogs with wearable technology that monitored their activity as they played, and an area where attendees can see how nutrition impacts cognition and emotional wellness in pets.
Without doubt everyone enjoyed the dedicated cat room that showcased ways to improve an indoor environment for a cat’s emotional as well as physical wellbeing. And of course it was filled with adorable cats and kittens that were only too keen to play.
It was a day of catching up with friends and colleagues and making new friends and forming new working relationships. On a personal note I finally got to meet Dr. Tony Buffington who has dedicated his professional career to improving the life of companion animals, specifically cats, through extensive research of Lower Urinary Tract Disease (LUTD) and Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS). He has also written extensively on the effects of stress has on disease and obesity.
In the real world, there is so much to be said and taught to pet owners who thankfully I find are for the most part very willing to learn. Every nugget of information put out there is like individual brush strokes that ultimately complete the canvas. I have always seen my role in the pet world as one of educating pet parents by highlighting trends and ideas that ultimately enhance the human animal bond. And there is no questions that emotional wellness is an important part of improving that human animal bond.
It was a great day and I am inspired to take what I have learned and incorporate it in my work on many levels.
So for starters, watch this space…
I was the guest of the Nestlé Purina Petcare Company who flew me to New York to attend the Purina Better With Pets Summit. However, all opinions are my own. I only write about topics, events and products that I consider readers will consider useful information and relevant to their interests.