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This year's Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference, 'Cat Connections', takes place on Friday 13 September. The virtual event features expert speakers, who will exploring the intricate link between cat behaviour and welfare.

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What is the Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference?

The Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference is an annual virtual event, focussed on providing informative sessions around different aspects of feline behaviour and welfare, from managing stress to how to rehome cats with behaviour problems. We round up some of the best speakers in the sector to share expert insights on wide-ranging and fascinating topics.

The talks are recorded and available to watch for up to six months after the event so you can revisit your favourite talks or catch up on any you missed.

How much does it cost to attend the conference?

We believe learning about cat welfare should be as accessible as possible, which is why we've kept our low conference price the same for the last five years.

The early bird price for May is only £30 for the whole conference, which will rise to the full ticket price of £60 from June.

This year's conference theme: Cat Connections –  the link between cat behaviour and welfare

It’s the Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference’s fifth anniversary in 2024. To celebrate we have planned an incredible day of cat behaviour and welfare CPD, featuring expert speakers. CPD certificates will be given out after attending the whole conference.

This year, we're taking a closer look at how feline behaviour is intertwined with all aspects of cat welfare and wellbeing. Our expert speakers will deliver engaging talks and panel discussions on a range of topics, including; the critical role of advocacy in promoting ethical feline behaviour practices, the challenges faced by cats in rescue and how this environment can impact behaviour, the interplay between medical issues and behaviour issues, and best practices for establishing human behaviour change in relation to those looking after cats. There will also be question and answer sessions, where you'll have the opportunity to address your own queries across the range of topics.

Who is the Cats Protection Cat Behaviour Conference for?

If you are interested in cat behaviour and welfare, on a professional or personal level, then this is the event for you. Our previous conferences have been attended by hundreds of audience members in a wide variety of roles from animal shelter workers, veterinary staff, students and behaviourists to cat enthusiasts and everyone in between.  

We look forward to welcoming people from all different walks of life and from all over the globe to our fifth conference.

Cat Behaviour Conference agenda 2024

9 to 9.15am: Welcome
9.15 to 10am: Behaviour and advocacy with Stefan Blakiston Moore
10 to 10.15am: Q&A with Stefan Blakiston Moore
10.15 to 11am: Behaviour and ethics with Karen Hiestand
11 to 11.15am: Q&A with Karen Hiestand

11.15 to 11.30am: Short break 

11.30am to 12.05pm: Behaviour and rescue with Claire Brown and Lindsay Tempest
12.05 to 12.15pm: Q&A with Claire Brown and Lindsay Tempest
12.15 to 12:50pm: Behaviour and research with Lauren Finka
12.50 to 1pm: Q&A with Lauren Finka

1 to 1.40pm: Lunch/break 

1.40 to 2.20pm: Behaviour and medical with Alex Taylor
2:20 to 2.30pm: Q&A with Alex Taylor
2.30 to 3.05pm: Behaviour and human behaviour change with Helen Crofts
3.05 to 3.15pm: Q&A with Helen Crofts

3.15 to 3.30pm: Break

3:30 to 4.15pm: Behaviour and hoarding with Vicky Halls and Ian MacFarlaine
4.15 to 4.30pm: Q&A with Vicky Halls and Ian MacFarlaine
4.30 to 5.25pm: Panel discussion 
5.25 to 5.30pm: Closing remarks 

Read detailed agenda and get tickets

Meet the speakers

Stefan Blakiston Moore

Stefan Blakiston Moore is the Advocacy & Campaigns Manager at Cats Protection. He leads on campaigns, external affairs and research, including responsibility for the team that writes the Cats Protection Cats and Their Stats (CATS) Report. Stefan joined the charity in January 2020 after spending nearly a decade working in Parliament and across multiple general election campaigns. His Cats Protection cat is called Neeve.

Dr Karen Hiestand

Karen Hiestand is a lecturer in veterinary and animal ethics at the Royal Veterinary College, London, and a European veterinary specialist in animal welfare, ethics and law. She originally trained as a vet at Massey University in New Zealand, and she has wide-ranging experience of first opinion mixed practice, shelter medicine, and voluntary work, particularly dog and cat population management programmes.

Having always been focused on how to improve animal welfare, she entered post-graduate education starting with an MSc in applied animal behaviour and welfare at Edinburgh. This experience kicked off a very expensive habit, and over the next few years Karen completed a BSc in psychology, an MA in medical ethics and law, and a PhD in psychology, investigating the role of animal empathy in human-companion animal relationships.

Alongside her role as an educator, she continues to volunteer in the animal welfare sector, as a trustee at International Cat Care, chair of the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA), and she holds committee positions on welfare and ethics advisory boards at both Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and RSPCA. 

Claire Brown

Claire Brown has always had a passion for animal welfare and behaviour and has worked within the sector for over 17 years. Claire has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Management and Welfare from the University of Lincoln as well as diplomas in Animal Care. Claire has worked for Cats Protection for 16 years and has held many roles while with the charity. Claire is currently National Cat Welfare Manager responsible for a national team overseeing the support and guidance of their fosterers and cat welfare standards.

Claire is also very proud to be a trustee for the charity Raystede in Sussex.

Lindsay Tempest 

Lindsay joined Cats Protection in 2003 and brings more than 25 years of animal welfare and rescue management. Early on in her career, a short period working at an independent animal rescue gave Lindsay the ‘rescue bug’. A brief four years teaching Animal Management at a land-based college in North Wales was not enough of a distraction, before the pull back into animal rescue became too much and she joined Cats Protection.

Lindsay has represented Cats Protection both nationally and internationally as a speaker at many conferences and training programmes including International Companion Animal Welfare Conference (ICAWC) and Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH). During her centre management years, Lindsay has managed both large and small centres, including dual managing two centres. This role also included support and training for local Cats Protection volunteers and regional employees. This foreshadowed her move into her current role as Cat Welfare Learning Officer, providing formal and informal training to Cats Protection employees and volunteers on all things cat welfare. 

Lindsay currently finds herself the fur clean-up master, as owner of two Huskies. She collects pencils and is a huge Harry Potter fan.

Dr Lauren Finka

Dr Lauren Finka is a feline welfare and behaviour scientist and works within the research team at Cats Protection. Her role includes leading across three key research streams that aim to develop and validate practical cat welfare tools to support stakeholders caring for shelter cats, cats in the home and unowned free-living cats. 

Lauren has previously held various consultancy and academic research positions covering areas such as the development of novel methods for pain recognition in cats via facial expressions, optimising human-cat interactions, practical application of research for cat welfare improvement in shelters and science communication. 

Alex Taylor

Alex qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1997 and has completed the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Feline Nursing Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Certificate in Feline Behaviour. In 2023 Alex passed the advanced diploma in applied animal behaviour (feline) level 5 and is currently studying towards gaining the Animal Behaviour Technician (ABT) qualification. Alex currently works for International Cat Care as the Cat Wellbeing and Behaviour Advisor and also as a self-employed lecturer and writer on feline nursing, behaviour and wellbeing. Alex is a member of the International Cat Care Feline Wellbeing Panel and has provided information about feline wellbeing to cat caregivers through her social media platforms under the name ‘The Cat Nurse’ since 2015. 

Helen Crofts

After graduating with a degree in English Literature and History of Art, Helen spent several years working in marketing and communications. Her passion for animal welfare led to a career change, whereby Helen qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2005. During her time working in private practice, she qualified as a Clinical Coach and led a team as Head of Training within a large first-opinion practice. In 2012, she was appointed as Veterinary Supervisor at Cats Protection. She is responsible for promoting cat health and welfare to veterinary professionals, the charity sector and the public, across the UK. 
More recently, Helen has graduated with a Master’s degree in Behaviour Change from the University of Derby and is very interested in implementing human behaviour change principles to help improve animal welfare. She has been a volunteer animal carer for Sussex Pet Rescue and the Donkey Sanctuary and is currently volunteering for SHOUT as a crisis counsellor. She has a lovely, adopted greyhound called Ned.

Vicky Halls

Vicky is the Head of Unowned Cats for International Cat Care. She is a Registered Veterinary Nurse and Clinical Animal Behaviourist, having spent over 27 years specialising in cats.

Vicky has lectured all over the world on cat behaviour to veterinary and lay audiences and now speaks most frequently on topics related specifically to unowned cats, including cat population management and International Cat Care’s model for working with unowned pet cats, Cat Friendly Homing. Vicky also has a particular interest in promoting good mental health within the animal welfare sector and raising awareness of issues such as hoarding. Vicky has previously worked in both the NHS and private practice as a certified 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. 

At home, Vicky is a slave to the demands of LC, her pre-loved elderly black cat.

Ian MacFarlaine RVN

Ian has worked within the animal welfare sector since 1989. His roles have included shelter management, charity senior leadership and programme leadership, and animal health and welfare. He has also worked in Environmental Health law enforcement at both local authority level, and as a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Inspector. He is a Registered Veterinary Nurse. 

His work outside the UK has included periods as an ex-pat in Portugal, Malta, Bermuda, Grand Cayman and the Channel Islands as well as working on training and spay/neuter projects in a further 15 countries.

He has worked directly with over 60 hoarding cases, from a variety of stakeholder perspectives, in several countries and with a range of outcomes. 

Ian currently works for the RSPCA in London with responsibility for a London-wide cat welfare and neutering scheme co-funded by five charities.

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