The Morris Animal Foundation has a long history of funding studies that help diagnose, treat and prevent disease in animals. Since 1950, the foundation has funded many many projects that have led to significant discoveries. They have invested $15.8 million in 368 studies at 60 different institutions around the world. Here is a list of the five new cat studies funded for 2018:
- Gastrointestinal Disease Caused by Virus – Panleukopenia is a devastating disease causing three different clinical presentations; “fading kitten syndrome”, neurological disease in kittens infected in utero and severe gastroenteritis. Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia will be investigating the role viruses play in this highly infectious disease that kills many shelter cats.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – FIP is caused by a corona virus that causes two different clinical syndromes in cats. The wet form is characterized by the accumulation of a straw colored fluid in the chest and/or abdomen. The dry form is characterized by accumulations of white blood cells called granulomas throughout the internal organs. Both forms are fatal. Researchers at Colorado State University are looking at new ways to diagnose this disease. Currently, the most commonly used test only indicates exposure to a corona virus. There are no current tests that indicate if the kitten will develop FIP.
- Heart Disease – Cats with heart disease are at risk for forming blood clots that travel through the aorta until they reach the area where the aorta splits into the right and left iliac arteries that supply blood to the back legs. The clot sticks in this area, called the saddle, restricting or completely blocking blood flow. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, will be investigating why the anti-clot drug clopidogrel doesn’t work in all cats. They will look at genetic mutations in cats with heart disease.
- Chronic Kidney Disease – Kidney disease is a common problem in older cats. Beside maintaining hydration, the kidneys remove amylase, an enzyme used in digestion, from the blood stream. Scientists at the University of Tennessee will study the effectiveness of omeprazole in suppressing stomach acid production.
- Herpesvirus-related Infections – Herpesvirus infections in cats often start as a severe upper respiratory infection in kittens. These kittens come into the clinic breathing through their mouths because of the thick pus draining from their eyes and nose. They are really sick. Even with intensive care, many will die. The lucky survivors will be infected for the rest of their lives. The virus lies dormant in their bodies until the cat is stressed, then makes the cat sick again. They will also shed the virus leading to the infection of more cats. Researchers at Michigan state University will study the immune response to feline herpesvirus with the hope of making a better vaccine for this virus.
Source: Cat Report 2018, Morris Animal Foundation, morrisaniamlfoundation.org.