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The Cat Behaviour Conference by Cats Protection took place on Friday 15 September 2023.

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Take a look at our agenda and list of speakers below.

Couldn’t join us on the day? Don’t worry, you can still purchase your ticket in advance and you’ll be sent the link for the recording. 

NB: People who attended on the day will still have access to watch or re-watch the sessions for six months post event as well.

This content is available to people from all over the world, so if you couldn’t join us live, you can still sign up and catch-up with the recordings as above.

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What is the Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference?

This one-day, virtual event is focusing on providing informative sessions around different aspects of feline behaviour in the shelter environment, from managing stress to how to rehome cats with behaviour problems. There are wide ranging and fascinating topics. Scroll down to see the full agenda.

Register for the conference

This year's theme: Stressing Meowt – cat behaviour in the rescue shelter

Watch a day of cat behaviour CPD, featuring expert speakers! CPD certificates will be given out after attending the whole conference.

After the success of Cats Protection’s virtual behaviour conferences in 2020, 2021 and 2022, Cats Protection held a fourth conference in September 2023.

This year’s conference is kindly supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


9.00-9.15: Welcome

9.15-10.00: Juliette Jones and Sam Prior

Stress reduction on a shoestring

The rescue environment can be stressful for cats; being removed from their known territories, being placed somewhere new with restricted space and a lot of other stress. How can we work to reduce stress and improve welfare, especially when funds may be tight? Juliette and Sam will take you through stress reduction on a budget in this exciting opening session.

10.00-10.15: Q&A – Stress reduction on a shoestring


10.15-11.00: Daniel Lloyd Warren-Cummings and Elin Williams

Whisker Me Away – Challenges and triumphs of rehoming cats with behaviour problems

Feline rescues and shelters should only ever be seen as a stepping stone to getting a cat into an appropriate home. However, the final hurdle of getting a cat with a behaviour problem into a home can often feel daunting when trying to find the right owner and support the owner in the home. This session aims to look at some of the most common feline behaviour problems and the challenges they pose for potential adopters as well as some of the pitfalls and traps of rehoming such cats.

11.00-11.15: Q&A – Whisker Me Away – Challenges and triumphs of rehoming cats with behaviour problems


11.15-11.30: Short break


11.30-12.05: Maggie Roberts

Fur babies and pet parents – right, wrong or simply nauseating?

There is an increasing trend to use anthropomorphism with companion animals in the UK and while empathy for our pets is beneficial, treating cats as people or children can lead to their species-specific needs not being met. The animal welfare sector should be leading by example and this includes using appropriate language and images to promote good cat welfare and what is brilliant about them as a species. There will be fun and no doubt a little controversy in this interactive session.

12.05-12.15: Q&A – Fur babies and pet parents – right, wrong or simply nauseating?


12.15-13.00: Research section

A quick pause from the practical behaviour work as we dip into some of the latest feline research that will help shape the future of how we look at feline behaviour.


13.00-13.40: Lunch/break


13.40-14.20: Alison Richards and Elle Boden

Longing to get out: untangling health, behaviour and stress in complex shelter cases

Being in feline rescue can bring multiple challenges when dealing with both physical and behavioural health, with them often being intertwined and needing a two-pronged approach to their management.

During this talk, we will briefly discuss the challenges that cats face in the shelter environment and how we use a pragmatic approach in shelter medicine. We will also touch on the emotional vs physical health in our cats and discuss two real-life case studies based on overgrooming and undesirable toileting, including looking at how these are managed within the shelter setting and considerations when homing.

14:20-14.30: Q&A – Longing to get out: untangling health, behaviour and stress in complex shelter cases


14.30-15.05: Tamsin Durston

A lesson in self-care from the Cheshire Cat

With a special emphasis on cat welfare workers and volunteers, this presentation will examine risk factors for, and differences between, compassion fatigue and burnout – both sadly all too commonly experienced within the animal welfare sector. As well as acknowledging the potential impact of moral stress, ways in which compassion satisfaction might be achieved for individuals will be explored. The presentation will provide evidenced self-care strategies for coping with the emotionally and physically challenging work involved in caring for unowned cats for whom new homes are being sought.

15.05-15.15: Q&A – A lesson in self-care from the Cheshire Cat


15.15-15.30: Break


15.30-16.15: Vicky Halls

Feral kittens: do you aim to tame? – Decision-making for kittens born to free-roaming cats

In managing cat populations around the world, people in homing organisations or running trap, neuter and return (TNR) programmes must find solutions for kittens born to free-roaming unowned cats, which are either picked up as young litters or as part of a TNR programme. There may be conflicting opinions as to what to do for the kittens and inevitably, where young creatures are involved, decisions about their care and outcome stir strong emotions.

Many people believe that the best outcome for these kittens is to live as pets. Others may believe that kittens should be returned as part of a TNR programme to their original situation. There are currently no long-term follow-up studies that look at whether outcomes are positive or negative when kittens go into pet homes or how well they survive in the TNR situation.

International Cat Care supports an understanding of the spectrum of lifestyle that exists within the domestic cat species and that all cats or kittens should, in an ideal world, have their individual needs met. This presentation does not provide all the answers but instead describes a step-by-step guide to help people navigate the complex decisions that need to be made.

16.15-16.30: Q&A – Feral kittens: do you aim to tame? – Decision-making for kittens born to free-roaming cats


16.30-17.25: Panel discussion – Optimising cat welfare in the sub-optimal environment that is cat shelters speakers include; Vicky Halls, Jocelyn Toner and Nicola White

17.25-17.30: Closing remarks

Who should attend?

This event is best suited for people who work or volunteer in a rescue environment that houses cats. This event is also great CPD for vets, vet nurses and vet students who have an interest in shelter medicine, work in practices that support shelters or generally want to improve their cat behaviour knowledge. Finally this event will also benefit those pet professionals who have a general interest in, and want to develop skills in, understanding the nuances and challenges of feline behaviour in the shelter environment.

How can I attend?

  • As the conference is online, you can gain access from a location of your choice
  • Content will be available for another six months post event for no extra fee

Meet the speakers

Vicky Halls RVN, Dip Couns

Vicky is the Unowned Cat Lead within the Cat Welfare Team at International Cat Care. She is a registered veterinary nurse and clinical animal behaviourist, having spent over 25 years specialising in cats. Vicky lectures all over the world on cat behaviour and unowned cat care to veterinary and lay audiences. Vicky is also a qualified and registered person-centred counsellor.

Vicky is the author of seven best-selling books on cats for the general public, several peer-reviewed papers for scientific journals and co-author of veterinary textbooks and published guidelines.

Juliette Jones DipCABT

Having worked at Woodgreen for 30 years, Juliette has extensive knowledge and practical experience in all areas of cat welfare and behaviour in both a cattery environment and in the home.

Juliette is currently Woodgreen’s Cat Specialist and also leads the Behaviour and Training Specialist Team. She is responsible for setting the welfare standards for cats in Woodgreen’s care, including those with complex behavioural needs; as well as giving advice and support to external audiences on a full spectrum of themes.

Juliette believes in a scientific evidence-based approach, applied with empathy, compassion and understanding for both pet and owner.

Sam Prior DipCABT

Sam has 15 years’ experience of working with our feline friends at Woodgreen Pets Charity. She holds a COAPE diploma in animal behaviour and is a wealth of knowledge on all things cat. Sam works with cat owners to resolve behavioural issues and supports complex case management for resident cats at Woodgreen’s site in Cambridgeshire. In her wide-ranging role at Woodgreen, she’s there for many of the cats at every step of their journey to a loving home. From giving them hands-on care to offering advice to their humans, she’s had a hand in changing many cats’ lives.

Daniel Warren-Cummings BSc (Hons), MSc (AWSEL)

Daniel graduated with a degree in Zoology with Animal Behaviour from the University of Wales. He has spent over 10 years working in the animal rescue and rehoming sector. Working as a trainer and behaviourist with some of the largest rescue and rehoming charities in the UK, he is currently working as a behaviourist for the UK’s largest cat charity, Cats Protection. Daniel has recently graduated with a Masters degree in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law from the University of Winchester and is a volunteer dog trainer for the charity Dog A.I.D which trains pet dogs to provide assistance for clients with disabilities. He has a tabby cat called Lady Bug.

Elin Williams BSc Hons

Elin graduated from Harper Adams University with a Bachelors of Science in clinical animal behaviour and welfare. Since then, she has worked with a range of companion animals, including cats, dogs and horses. She is passionate about ensuring the field of animal behaviour is regulated and also sits on the board for the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians.

In 2019, Elin worked for Cats Protection for 12 months as the Behaviour Officer. Elin is now the Regional Behaviour Officer for Wales, West Midlands and the South West, where her role focuses on helping cats both in care and post adoption, along with delivering training internally and promoting cat behaviour and welfare.

Tamsin Durston RVN, CAB, MSc Psych

Tamsin is a Registered Veterinary Nurse, Clinical Animal Behaviourist and Human Behaviour Change Practitioner, with 26 years’ experience working predominantly for the charities Blue Cross and Dogs Trust. In management roles of veterinary nursing and animal behaviour-focused teams throughout the best part of her career, Tam has felt responsible for the workplace wellbeing of animal welfare teams of staff and volunteers. As well as the animals we all care so deeply for, Tam is therefore keen to optimise mental and emotional health for humans and has researched and authored a book titled Emotional Wellbeing for the Animal Welfare Professional.

Alison Richards BVSc, MRCVS

Alison qualified as a vet from Bristol Veterinary School in 2010 and spent her first eight years in clinical veterinary practice. In that time, she developed a passion for the feline side of small animal practice, regularly being the cat advocate in the team, and started educational volunteering for Cats Protection. In 2018 she joined Cats Protection’s Veterinary team and now works as the Head of Clinical Services. In her role she enjoys the opportunity to promote a feline focused, holistic approach to the veterinary treatment of cats and is a big believer in the value of pragmatic, contextual care. Outside of work she has a rescue cat called Smartie, and two dogs Benji and Ted who she loves to be out walking with.

Elle Boden RVN, GradDipAAB

After completing her nursing studies and becoming a Registered Veterinary Nurse, Elle went on to complete her Graduate Diploma in Applied Animal Behaviour. From there she went on to set up her own behaviour business called ‘The Behaviour Nurse’ and exclusively saw cats for behavioural consultations. Elle now works as the Regional Behaviour Officer for London and the South East at Cats Protection, where she is involved in working with cats both in care and post adoption, developing behaviour learning materials and generally promoting cat behaviour and welfare at every opportunity. Alongside this she is undertaking her MSc in Human Animal Interactions and Wellbeing and is very interested in the cat-human bond.

Jocelyn Toner BVSc, MRCVS, PGDip CABC

Jocelyn qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Bristol University in 1998. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling from Southampton University and is currently studying towards an MSc in One Health at Edinburgh University.

After graduation, she spent a few years in private practice, before moving into the charity sector and she has worked for a range of different animal charities.

Currently, she is Head Vet – Clinical Services for the RSPCA where she provides veterinary advice and clinical support for the RSPCA hospitals and animal centres. An important part of her role is developing welfare monitoring tools to make sure that every animal has the highest standards of welfare possible as they move through the RSPCA.

Maggie Roberts BVM&S, MRCVS

Maggie Roberts qualified as a vet at the University of Edinburgh in 1986 and spent most of her early career in private small animal practice, where she developed an interest in feline medicine. She has also worked in Malawi and Australia and was appointed the first Cats Protection Veterinary Officer in 1997. She became a partner in private practice but returned to Cats Protection in 2006 and is now Director of Feline Welfare where she has responsibility for the charity’s work on cat welfare, neutering, advocacy and education.

Her professional interests are shelter medicine and feline population control; she is a founder member of the Association of Charity Vets and the co-editor of the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Shelter Medicine. She was the recipient of the J A Wight (aka James Herriot) Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the welfare of companion animals in 2013. She has a Cats Protection cat called Ross.

Nicola White MSc BSc(Hons), PGDip

Nicola’s passion is improving the welfare of animals through an understanding of their needs and improvement of the way we interact with and care for them – and her experience is in animal welfare rescue and operations, wild animal biology and animal management. Nicola obtained MSc Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College after graduating with BSc (Hons) Zoology from the University of Edinburgh, and has since worked in paid and voluntary roles for animal rescue and welfare organisations including the RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, and World Animal Protection.

As Cat Welfare Manager for Scotland, Northern Ireland, North West England and East England for Cats Protection Nicola leads a team of five Cat Welfare Advisors providing cat welfare advice and support to volunteer branches and undertaking welfare support visits to assess against internal and external welfare and operational standards. Prior to working for Cats Protection, Nicola was Senior Scientific Officer: Exotic Pets and Wildlife Trade in the RSPCA’s Science & Policy (Wildlife) Department, responsible for developing and communicating science-based policy, guidance and training on exotic pets. She is a Trustee for the Association of Dogs & Cats Homes (ADCH), and a member of their Standards and Animal Welfare Committee.

Nicola considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to work and volunteer in roles that she loves doing, working to improve the lives of animals.

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