Archive for the 'News' Category

Feline Art Show Is Open

We had a lovely private view at Cats Protection in Sussex on Thursday. It was lovely to see you all there. The show was opened by  Peter Bayless, winner of BBC’s MasterChef 2006. The show is now open if you’d like to visit, it’s above the cafe, at Cats Protection National Centre, Haywards Heath in Sussex until the 7th of May. Do drop and and have a look. The cakes are excellent too!
Thanks to Lois and Gerry for the photos.

Cats Protection Exhibition in Sussex

Avril Sleeman is exhibiting at the S.O.F.A exhibition at Cats Protection in Sussex from the 28th of April to the 7th of May 2017 at the National Cat Centre, Haywards Heath, Sussex.
There’ll be work from over 40 members and associates of the society and all sales will benefit Cats Protection.

Selection Results

Selection of Associates members for the upcoming show has just completed. You will be getting emails about your submissions soon.
The associates are….

  • Avril Sleeman
  • Barbara Bird
  • Daphne Lanham
  • Frances Daunt
  • Geraldine Boley
  • Hildegarde Bone
  • Jill Tisbury
  • Lauretta Bertarelli
  • Mair Hitching
  • Mark Lord
  • Peggy Pickering
  • Peter Norgrove
  • Sharon Thompson
  • Suzanne Bradley
  • Vera Morgan
  • Yasmin Donlon

Teaching vets all about skin diseases in Vienna

S.O.F.A. patron David Grant on teaching vets about skin diseases.

I had been a qualified vet for 7 years when I started to think about getting additional qualifications. Working in a King’s Road Fulham veterinary clinic in 1975, I came across my first case of demodicosis in a German shepherd dog. Although horrible to look at and seemingly impossible to cure I referred the dog to a colleague, Keith Thoday, who had just set up a specialty practice, and he cured the dog. This was the start of a friendship that continues today and I am godfather to his youngest daughter.  We were to meet up soon after at the Edinburgh veterinary college, where we were both lecturers, and ran the skin clinic together for a few years. My friend stayed and became a professor of veterinary dermatology. I decided that academia was not for me and I returned to London, but not before I had passed the exams for Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and with FRCVS after my name.

This opened up many doors, not least RCVS recognised dermatology specialist status, and I have seen many cases for colleagues, written a couple of books on the subject and lectured all over Europe and beyond, most recently in Mexico and China. First I had to learn how to lecture and I was very grateful for the help of another colleague David Lloyd. David had qualified with me and had since then travelled widely, mainly in Africa and acquired a PhD in the process. He was now heading up the dermatology department of our alma mater, the Royal Veterinary College, and whenever I was asked to do a talk I practiced it first in front of the academics. David also stayed in academia and became the Royal Veterinary College’s first professor of Veterinary Dermatology.

In 1992 a great opportunity came about. David had been approached by a German vet, Hans Koch, to set up a programme to teach vets dermatology –from the basics to a high level. Hans had identified that dermatology was not catered for very well in most colleges and students would be lucky to have a dozen lectures in the subject, yet skin diseases are by far the commonest that practicing vets will see. The proposal was for six weeks of intensive tuition spread over two years with distance learning in between. This began a lecturing partnership, which has been continuous since. Hans Koch named his organisation the European School of Advanced Veterinary Studies (ESAVS). David and I started it with dermatology but there are many other disciplines now, and thousands of vets have been trained with about a thousand just in dermatology.

We started in Luxembourg, a quaint little place that you can ‘do’ in not much more than a morning.  We had to bring all the laboratory materials from London and one year I drove to Luxembourg and back with bacteria, fungi and stains, only to be stopped by customs on the return journey. Goodness only knows what they would have done if they had bothered to check the live material stashed away, but as soon as they heard I was an RSPCA vet they let me go with obvious disappointment!


Cytology practical in progress. The vets are looking at cells obtained from various lumps and learning to decide whether they could be cancerous

After a few years, with one year in Barcelona, Hans Koch negotiated a very good deal with the Vienna veterinary school, and I have now visited Vienna twice a year for nearly 20 years. Until recently I didn’t have much time to explore the city. The facilities at the veterinary college, particularly the laboratories, are magnificent, (see above) and because the teaching has always been in vacation time we have had the campus mainly to ourselves. It has felt like a ghost town with huge academic department buildings and no one about-like a set from ‘The Prisoner’. The campus is situated in the outskirts with very few temptations either for tourism or food and we normally stayed in student accommodation. It has always been possible to get away for some nice meals in the centre, however, and travel in the Vienna metro (U-Bahn) and trams, is very straightforward and cheap. You can buy tickets on line with no problems at all. Once you have printed out the tickets you just have to carry them while travelling, although I have never been asked to show them. I think the fines for cheating are probably very high!


Part of the veterinary campus in August -35 degrees and no students

It’s enormous fun teaching the vets and seeing what tremendous progress is made. It makes for life-long friendships, and some marriages too, and last year in Krakow, at a conference, we met up with the original group of 1992. Several of them are now professors and all are specialists, with one coming from Australia. They are all still in contact with each other-including their teachers.

This year for the first time the student accommodation was booked up and we stayed in a hotel about ten minutes away by tram. This turned out to be a good thing. The Strandhotel, Alte Donau, doesn’t look much from the outside as it is on a busy main road. But behind are some quiet rooms with nice views over the old Danube (Alte Donau). The Alte Donau is one of my favourite parts of Vienna, very near the centre but with beautiful views, pleasant walks, recreational sports plus great rustic restaurants with views over the river. The nearest metro station to the hotel is a five minute walk and from there it is not much more than 15 minutes to the centre-Stefan Platz and the cathedral being a favourite spot. Nearby is one of Mozart’s homes, now a museum and worth the 10 euros to get in. There are numerous attractions to this stunning city and I fully intend to spend some time there in the future with my wife, and we will be staying at the Strandhotel.


View of the centre of Vienna from a restaurant on the Old Danube

It will be strange to miss out on the buzz you get from standing in front of a new group of vets knowing that they will likely become  lifelong friends, and nowadays with Facebook, fascinating to follow their lives and professional careers. But I have decided it is time to hand over the baton to someone younger, so next year in September I will be doing my lectures to the course 3 vets for the last time. Appropriately it will include a whole day on cats, which I always enjoy as they are fascinating creatures in health and disease, particularly of the skin!

By David Grant

The 2016 AGM and The Stephanie Kay Manchipp Award

The Society’s AGM was held on the 17th of September at Doggetts Coat And Badge on the South bank with beautiful views over the river.

At the AGM the officers gave their reports and Lois Sykes gave us a overview of an upcoming exhibition opportunity for S.O.F.A. members with Cat’s Protection, to help them celebrate their 90th anniversary.  This will be next year in April. Details of the exhibition will be going out to members soon.

Once the business of the AGM was concluded Kay presented this year’s Stephanie Kay Manchipp Memorial Award. The award is presented in honour of Stephanie Manchipp, who was passionate about encouraging new members to become full members of the society. In her memory, the society will award a prize each year for the most outstanding work by a new member.

The look Lauretta Bertarelli

S.O.F.A. is very pleased to announce that the fifth Stephanie Kay Manchipp Memorial Award for new members goes to Lauretta Bertarelli. Lauretta lives in Italy so her husband kindly came to the AGM to receive the award on her behalf. He was presented with a certificate, designed by Ben Manchipp, and a cheque for £100 by our Chairman Kay Young.

Congratulations Lauretta!


International Cat Care Awards 2016

This year’s International Cat Care annual celebration was held at the Kensington Roof Gardens in London in July.


Easy To Give Awards

Every year ICC presents the ‘Easy to Give’ award, created to reward pharmaceutical companies whose products are easy to administer to cats and don’t damage the relationship between you and your cat.

Easy to Give winners this year are

  • Amodip Chewable Tablets for Cats (Ceva)is the first ever cat-friendly amlodipine licensed for veterinary use for the treatment of hypertension in cats.
  • Benazecare 5mg Tablets (AnimalCare) act to reduce the protein lost in urine in renal disease and increase the appetite and quality of life of cats with chronic kidney disease.
  • Noraclav Chewable Tablets for Cats and Dogs (Norbrook) contain amoxicillin and clavalanic acid; because antibiotic resistance is a growing concern, having routinely used antibiotics in an easy to give and palatable formulation for cats is very important.
  • V-Gel (Docsinnovent) is a supraglottic airway device for cats which enables a clear airway to be obtained quickly, efficiently and effectively for general anaesthesia and emergency resuscitation purposes without the need for traditional endotracheal intubation.

These companies will be granted the use of the Easy to Give logo on advertising to the veterinary world. These bring the total number of Easy to Give awards presented, since their inception in 2005, to 39.

Easy to Give Award winners from left: Fleur Knapp and Iain Meneer from AnimalCare; Marie-Laure Loubiere and Sarah Endersby from Ceva; Surendra Sumaria-Shah from Docsinnovent; Lizzie Leonard-Appleton and Rachel Crowe, Norbrook.

The Cat Friendly Awards

The Cat Friendly Awards recognise other products which have made a real difference to cat wellbeing and welfare. This year the winners are…

There were four Cat Friendly winners this year – Lick-e-Lix from Webbox, Feliway Friends Diffuser from Ceva Animal Health, Kittyrama Cat Collars from Kittyrama and Beco Cat Bowl from Beco Pets.

  • Lick-e-Lix (Webbox) provides a great method to help give prescription medications to cats. Owners reported that its different flavours were great for disguising and giving pills and even made this a rewarding experience.
  • Feliway Friends Diffuser (Ceva)contains a synthetic copy of the cat appeasing pheromone naturally produced by a nursing mother for her kittens after birth, helping kittens feel safe and secure. This product aims to reduce tension and conflict in multicat households.
  • Kittyrama Cat Collars (Kittrama)are designed to be lightweight, slim, durable and very comfortable. They also have a buckle for accurate fitting and a safety opening mechanism if the collar gets caught.
  • Beco Cat Bowls (Beco Pets) are made of recyclable waste plant materials and are wide with low sides so that the cat’s sensitive whiskers are not bent while eating.
Cat Friendly Award winners from left: Claire Bessant, iCatCare Chief Executive; Melanie Eastwood from Webbox; George Bramble from Beco Pets; James Forrester and Carolina Ballon-Forrester from Kittyrama; Abi Busk from Ceva.

Cat Friendly Award winners from left: Claire Bessant, iCatCare Chief Executive; Melanie Eastwood from Webbox; George Bramble from Beco Pets; James Forrester and Carolina Ballon-Forrester from Kittyrama; Abi Busk from Ceva.

Cat Naps Calendar Competition

Kensington was also the venue for the launch of the ICC 2017 Cat Naps calendar, crammed with stunning winning photos from the annual photographic competition.   They’ll be available from their website soon, and the funds raised from the sale of the calendars makes a significant contribution to their welfare work with unowned cats.

The winner is Johanna Vaurio-Teräväinen from Finland, for her stunning picture of her cat Pitkis.

The winner is Johanna Vaurio-Teräväinen from Finland, for her stunning picture of her cat Pitkis.

For more information on the awards, have a look at the charity’s website, or if you are interested in buying the terrific calendar or cards see

The top 100 images are available to view on the charity’s Facebook page.

We have always enjoyed our association with ICC and the excellent work they do to improve the lives of our cats. International Cat Care receives no public money and relies on the generosity of the cat community to continue its work for owned and unowned cats across the globe.

Lecture Trip To China

S.O.F.A. patron David Grant has just got back from a lecture trip to China

DavidGrantJust back from another trip to China (my sixth in six years) and getting over the jet lag in time for the virtual congress. For the last six years David Lloyd (ex Professor of veterinary dermatology at the RVC) and myself have traveled to various parts of China to teach a course in veterinary dermatology. We do just a week of the six-week course, which aims to get colleagues up to certificate level in the subject. Other lecturers on the course have included Richard Halliwell, Craig Griffin and Chiara Noli to name just a few.

China has been a revelation with massive skyscrapers, luxury cars everywhere, a seemingly booming economy  (apparently not as I write this) and superb, almost always full restaurants.  Our Chinese colleagues are busy building successful practices and the entrepreneurial ones already own three of more clinics. It seems small animal practice is big business.

ESAVS China students Zhuhai Dec 2015

ESAVS China students Zhuhai

This time the lectures were in Zhuhai a one-hour ferry trip from Hong Kong. In a previous year we had been to Shenzhen on the other side of the Pearl River Delta but also just an hour on the ferry. At the last minute we were invited to lecture in Macao, giving the opportunity to see something of the gambling capital of the world. We elected to fly via Helsinki to Hong Kong with Finnair. This turned out to be a good choice-very comfortable planes and excellent food. This year new Airbus 350 jets will service this route and the flights are less expensive than the competitors.

Arriving at Hong Kong and transferring to Macao could not be easier. A short walk to the well signposted Star Pier where you can buy tickets for the ferry. Staff scan the baggage labels, fetch the bags and put them on the ferry. When you board, and your ticket is scanned, a green tick indicates that the suitcases are on board.

Met by our hosts for two days we settled in the Holiday Inn and had time to look around. 90% of income for Macao is as a result of the massive casinos. We walked through just one of them to get to breakfast. It is very difficult to describe the casinos-they are absolutely massive and crammed with gamblers day and night. In the Venetian Macao complex is the biggest casino of the lot, along with hundreds of all the high-end retail stores.  But possibly the most amazing sight was on the second floor of the complex-a mock up of Venice complete with gondoliers and canals. Apparently a similar set up exists in Las Vegas but our hosts were quick to point out that Macao was much bigger.

Macao old and new

Macao Old and New

Macao is worth a visit for a day or two for shopping and maybe a trip to the casino.  We also had the opportunity to visit a very well equipped small animal hospital. After giving a couple of lectures to the local veterinary association it was time to cross the border with Mainland China. Fortunately we were chaperoned across because about 100, 000 gamblers, it seemed, had the same idea. A week of intensive lectures followed with very little time to see much of Zhuhai. It is known as a holiday destination in China and has been voted as one of the most livable cities. The area has also been called the Chinese Riviera. The weather, just before Christmas, was a pleasant 23 degrees and sunny. The main attraction of the city is its hotels, bars, restaurants and a fine beach.

After finishing the course we were allocated a driver who showed us around some of the attractions nearby including an 18th century village, which had been trashed during the Cultural Revolution but was now being renovated, another beach and a mangrove swamp complete with wooden walkways.

wetland reserve zhuhai

Zhuhai Wetland Reserve

I managed 7 hours sleep on the Hong Kong-Helsinki leg and arrived In London surprisingly refreshed. I enjoyed Macao and Zhuhai and they are two destinations that need a bit more time. Also the interaction during the course with our Asian colleagues from Malaysia, Thailand and China was great fun and many friendships have been made as a result. A social highlight of the week was a course dinner generously sponsored by Elanco, China –veterinary friendship at its best.

By David Grant



Exhibition Photos

Slide Shows
See the photos of each exhibition as a slide show. Click the links below and sit back and watch the show. These will be quite large photos and may take a while to load.

SOFA London 2016
SOFA London 2015
SOFA London 2014
SOFA London 2013
SOFA London 2012
SOFA London 2011
SOFA London 2010
SOFA London 2009
SOFA London 2008


%d bloggers like this: