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Nestlé Purina PetCare recently invited me to attend the 2015 Purina Better with Pets Summit. In addition to spending the day learning how pets enrich our lives, we discussed how we can give back to our pets by enriching their lives – in my view a much more important focus.

Held at the Brooklyn Expo Center, Purina brought in the best of the best in the pet world: veterinarians, behaviorists, bloggers, media and executives from Purina. All of us converged for a collaborative discussion surrounding a variety of topics and panel discussions on how we are so much better off with pets as a part of our lives.

The following is a list of panel topic and interesting facts attendees took away:

Designing for emotional wellness

How to keep your cat’s emotional wellness in mind when you design your living space.

Panel: Are Millennials changing our relationships with cats?

  • FACT: Millennials have different expectations from their relationships with cats – they expect cats to immediately interact with them and they have less patience than other generations.
  • FACT: Millennials have the most cats at 31%, followed by the baby boomer generation.
  • FACT: Everyone knows that cats are predators, but many people don’t realize that cats are also prey. Cats that live indoors live longer, healthier lives.
  • FACT: Cats are receiving less care than dogs because they are viewed as independent and not needing care. This is not true, and the stereotype needs to change. The good news is that Millennials are spending more on cats than other generations.

“No two cats are the same. Accept them for who they are.” – Christina Ha, Owner, Meow Parlour

Panel: Stress, Our Pets and Us

Box with sticks and puff balls for a food puzzle prototype

A prototype of a food puzzle to challenge your cat

FACT: Boredom is just as stressful for you cat than other external stressors. Using items like food puzzles can enrich your cat’s life.

  • FACT: Designing your home with your cat’s health in mind, can reduce its stress. Provide plenty of areas to climb, scratch and hide. Use colors that are pleasing to them like greens, blues and purples.
  • FACT: We look to our pets to enrich our lives…instead we should consider what we can do to enrich their lives and give back to them.
  • FACT: Cats love routine. When you go on vacation and leave your cat, be sure to get a pet sitter and explain your daily routine to them in order to help your cat emotionally deal with your absence.
  • “Rewire your brain to think about things the way your pet does.” – Heather Lewis, Principal, Animal Arts



    Panel: Raising Pets with Kids

    • FACT: Pets are helping troubled youth in juvenile detention facilities overcome obstacles and lead productive lives.
    • FACT: Pets are being used therapeutically to help children who are dealing with serious emotional and physical trauma.

    “The human-animal bond is real. I’ve seen it.” – Jayne Vitale, Program Director, North Shore Animal League

    A few other highlights:

    • Dog Ring with Trainers – I had the opportunity to train two super-sweet dogs…and despite announcing that I was a “cat person,” the dogs actually listened to me.
    • Cat Room – Decked out with awesome things to climb on, scratch, perch and hide, the cat room also included comfy seating for humans – the cats were really at ease (and so were the humans). So much so, that many of them were comfortably napping… as cats do.
    • Toy/Product Lab – Learn how many Purina products get their start. It was fascinating to see the various ideas and prototypes that their engineers are testing.

    The verdict?

    It’s hard to describe the awesome feeling I got from being in a room and spending the day with a couple hundred people who love pets as much as I do. Knowing that there are so many researchers dedicated to improving the quality of the lives of cats and dogs is a great feeling. Purina might be a big pet company…but they are a big company with a really big heart. I hope I’m invited to attend again next year…

    To keep up with all things Purina, follow them on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and search the event hashtag #BetterWithPets to follow the conversation!