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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Effect of Cage Enrichment and Predictability on Healthy Outcomes of Shelter Cats

Large numbers of domestic cats enter animal shelters each year. Some are strays and many are surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them. Entering a shelter is likely a frightening experience for most cats, resulting in a strong stress response. If the stress response persists, the cat may become sick, making it less likely that the cat will be adopted into a new home and more likely it will be euthanized. The overall goal of this project is to improve outcomes for shelter cats by reducing the number of days to adoption, the number of sick cats and the number of days these cats are sick. The researchers believe that finding the best ways to improve the cage experience and increase the safety and comfort of the cat’s surroundings from the time of arrival at the shelter to its adoption will improve health outcomes. This study tests the ability of improved observations and use of a biomarker to predict health outcomes, determines whether changes in the cage environment reduce stress and creates a training program to help shelter workers become experts in observing and working with cats to reduce the cats’ stress. By focusing on adoption and health as outcomes, the researchers hope to improve the lives of both cats and the shelter personnel who care for them.

This study is part of the Helping Shelters Help Cats program.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Charles Buffington, Ohio State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Waltham Foundation; PetSmart Charities®; Edna B. Ellingson; Petfinder.com; PetSmart Charities; Neil and Sylvia Van Sloun, the Van Sloun Foundation; Rex and Nelle Jackson Foundation

Study ID: D09FE-502

Establishing Continuous Cultures of a Tick-Transmitted Parasite

Cytauxzoon felis is a tick-transmitted parasite that causes rapid and frequently fatal disease in domestic cats. Bobcats are natural hosts, so they do not get sick from the parasite, but they can carry the infection, which is then transmitted by ticks to domestic cats. Diagnostic and treatment options are limited, and there is no vaccine to protect pets against this deadly parasite. in order to obtain parasites for research, at the present time experimentally infected or naturally infected cats must be used. researchers will determine the optimal conditions needed to establish and maintain continuous in vitro cultures of C. felis blood-stage parasites. if successful, the availability of continuous cultures would help facilitate more studies on C. felis and help researchers find ways to prevent and cure this deadly disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Patricia J. Holman, Texas A&M University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-017

Evaluating a Drug to Prevent Fatal Blood Clots

Cats with heart disease often die of blood clots. This study evaluates a new orally administered anticlotting drug, rivaroxaban, which has shown promise in treating people with heart disease. Identification of a drug that could effectively and safely prevent blood clots in cats would significantly improve outcomes for cats with heart disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gregg Rapoport, University of Georgia, First Award

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-304

Evaluating a New Technique for Detecting Disease Pathogens in Cats

This study evaluates a new technology to identify and characterize feline viral pathogens. The researchers will design short pieces of DNA that can help them search for feline pathogens that are difficult to link to disease using conventional technologies. This new technique has the potential to improve discovery, detection, treatment and prevention of pathogens that cause disease in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sue VandeWoude, Colorado State University, Pilot Study

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-803

Evaluating a new treatment for oral cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 75 percent of all feline oral cancers. Affected cats develop extensive bone and tissue damage, as well as ulcerations, causing pain and making eating and drinking extremely difficult. Researchers will evaluate a combination of ionizing radiation with an anticancer compound shown to have antitumor effects in vitro (under controlled laboratory conditions). Fewer than 10 percent of cats survive more than one year following diagnosis, highlighting the need for new treatments. The team hopes this new combination will improve pain management and extend survival times for cats with this highly invasive cancer.

Principal Investigator: Timothy M. Fan, DVM, PhD, University of Illinois

Sponsors: Anonymous, Blue Buffalo Foundation, Petco Foundation

Study ID: D17FE-007

Evaluating a Novel Approach to Prevent Feline Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a common and potentially fatal disease of cats. Although feline papillomavirus DNA has been detected in about half of these cancers, the role of the virus in these cancers is unknown. Researchers will evaluate feline skin cancer samples and determine whether papillomaviral DNA is expressed within the cancers. Detection of papillomavirus gene expression would suggest that the virus influences cancer growth. Papillomavirus infection is a known cause of some human cancers, and vaccination against viral infection is used to prevent these cancers. If it can be proven that papillomavirus infection causes feline skin cancers, vaccination could be used to prevent these common cancers in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. John S. Munday, Massey University, New Zealand, Pilot Study

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-804

Evaluating a Novel Treatment for Feline Diabetes

Diabetes is a common disease in cats that is thought to involve significant amounts of oxidative stress, which may also be linked to many other diseases. Cats are not well equipped to handle oxidative stress, and therefore, antioxidant supplementation may help them (and their owners) deal with diabetes. This clinical trial evaluates how a nutraceutical antioxidant affects clinical signs and biochemical abnormalities in cats with diabetes.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Craig B. Webb, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-003

Evaluating Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Up to 45 percent of all cats suffer arthritis pain, but currently there are no approved or proven therapies for treatment of chronic joint pain in cats. One reason for this is that veterinarians don't have reliable and sensitive ways of assessing such pain in cats. It is crucial to have quantitative, reliable ways to measure chronic pain so that these methods can be used to test the effectiveness of new drug and non-drug therapies designed to alleviate chronic pain. This study will develop a valid, reliable and sensitive questionnaire for veterinarians and clinical researchers to accurately assess efficacy of treatments for chronic pain in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. B. Duncan X. Lascelles, North Carolina State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Lincoln State Cat Club; Nick and Patti Mattera

Study ID: D08FE-043

Evaluating Drugs That Inhibit Oral Cancer Growth

Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of mouth tumor in cats. It is an extremely aggressive cancer that destroys the tissue in the cat's mouth and frequently invades the bone. There is no effective treatment and cats with this cancer survive an average of only two months. An important aspect of this disease is its invasion of the bone, but this process isn't understood. The researchers believe that bone destruction encourages tumor growth. They will use in vitro techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of two drugs in inhibiting bone destruction and cancer growth. This study will lay the groundwork for important clinical trials of these drugs.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Thomas J. Rosol, The Ohio State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D08FE-023

Evaluating Genetic Suppression of Oral Cancer Cells

Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma is a common cancer that responds poorly to treatment. A key mechanism in cats contributes to the invasive and malignant nature of this disease. This study identifies the gene that controls this mechanism and evaluates whether suppressing the gene in cancer cells could help treat the disease in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Donald Andrew Yool, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-007

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