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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

Improving the Safety of an Anticlotting Drug Used in Cats with Heart Disease

Cats with heart disease often develop blood clots, and the survival rate of a clotting episode is less than 40 percent. Because cats that survive often develop a second clot, many cats are euthanized rather than treated. Clopidogrel, an antiplatelet drug commonly used to prevent coronary arterial thromboembolism in people, is increasingly being used to prevent clots in cats. Only one study, however, has evaluated how clopidogrel affects cats. Researchers will investigate how cats metabolize clopidogrel and how it affects cat platelets. This will enable veterinarians to use the drug more safely and effectively in cats with heart disease and to better prevent blood clot formation.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Pamela M. Lee, Washington State University, Pilot Study

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-807

Investigating a new anti-clotting drug for cats with heart disease

Researchers will investigate the effectiveness of a new anticoagulant drug to prevent abnormal and deadly blood clotting complications in cats with heart disease.

Principal Investigator: Benjamin M. Brainard, VMD, The University of Georgia

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16FE-015

Investigating a New Treatment for Oral Cancers in Cats

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a common and usually fatal feline cancer. A better understanding of how these tumors progress and  the identification of new therapy targets for intervention are required to improve outcomes. Researchers will determine whether small molecular inhibitors block some of the mechanisms that drive oral tumor growth and drug resistance. What they learn may provide a new approach that will improve the long-term prognosis and quality of life for cats with oral cancer. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson & Dr. Lester R. Drewes, University of Minnesota

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-020

Investigating genetic changes associated with feline infectious peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis is an incurable, fatal viral disease in cats caused by mutated feline enteric coronavirus. Although several FIP-related mutations have been identified, the role these mutations play in disease development is not well understood. Researchers will use full genome sequencing of viral strains derived from cats that naturally developed FIP and genetic manipulation of the feline enteric coronavirus genome to identify and study the impact of genetic changes in the viral genome on the behavior of the virus in its target cells – intestinal lining cells and white blood cells. Results will help identify major targets for FIP diagnosis and treatment to change the outcome for cats infected by this fatal virus.

Principal Investigator:

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16FE-511

Investigating the Re-emergence of a Fatal Gastrointestinal Disease in Shelter Cats

Principal Investigator:

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Managing Chronic Pain in Osteoarthritic Cats

Osteoarthritis is fairly common in older cats, whose jots eventually undergo the same degenerative process that people’s joints do. Feline osteoarthritis is hard to diagnose, however, if the cat doesn't show overt symptoms, like lameness. This painful and progressive condition can result in a range of symptoms, the worst of which is chronic pain. This is important because unalleviated chronic pain presents a welfare concern and limits a cat's ability to function. Pain may also contribute to behavior problems that can damage the human–animal bond, resulting in euthanasia or pet surrender to an animal shelter. Validated evaluation scales have been reported only for acute or surgical feline pain, which differs in its expression from chronic pain. This study will produce validated pain scales for identifying and quantifying pain caused by osteoarthritis. The data collected in this study would contribute to veterinarians’ abilities to manage pain effectively using these scales.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mary Klinck, University of Montreal

Sponsors:

Study ID: D10FE-901, Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship

New Radiation Therapy for Oral Cancer

Feline oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) account for about 10 percent of all feline tumors and are the most common oral tumors in cats. They interfere with eating and drinking and are so painful that most cats with these devastating tumors are euthanized. Because treatment with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy usually fails, most owners and veterinarians don’t even attempt treatment. A new tool called stereotactic radiation therapy is equipped with an X-ray machine and special computers to provide more targeted treatment, allowing for higher doses of radiation over a shorter time with fewer side effects. This study will treat cats with OSCC with stereotactic radiation therapy. Findings will advance the understanding of these difficult tumors and improve treatment and the quality of life for affected cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan M. LaRue, Colorado State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: The Freda Hambrick Foundation; The George Sydney and Phyllis Redmond Miller Trust; Condon Family Foundation; The George Sydney and Phyllis Redmond Miller Trust

Study ID: D09FE-003

Prolonging diabetic remission in cats

With initial insulin and dietary treatments, approximately 30 percent of diabetic cats enter a state of remission in which they no longer require daily insulin shots. Unfortunately, in most cats, remission only lasts a few months and insulin injections are required again for disease control. Exenatide is a medication used to treat people with Type 2 diabetes. The drug stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin when blood sugar levels are high. It also has the potential to stimulate proliferation of insulin-secreting cells. Researchers will conduct a clinical trial to gauge exenatide’s effectiveness in maintaining and extending diabetic remission in client-owned cats. Current treatment for patients involves daily injections of insulin. Exenatide is given only once a month and holds promise as a more manageable at-home treatment for cats with diabetes.

Principal Investigator: Chen Gilor, DVM, University of California, Davis

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17FE-018

Protecting cats from a deadly virus

Feline infectious peritonitis is a uniformly fatal disease of cats. Despite persistent efforts by researchers, no effective therapy or vaccine exists to treat or prevent this disease. Studies show a common intestinal virus, feline enteric coronavirus, can mutate and cause FIP. Some cats develop persistent FECV infections and continuously shed and spread the virus; other cats are able to naturally eliminate FECV from their systems. Researchers will study cats with a protective immune response to FECV, and use this new data to assess the feasibility of developing an FECV vaccine as a way to prevent FIP. Vaccination would be especially useful in situations where cats have a higher incidence of FECV and risk of developing FIP, such as shelters, catteries and animal sanctuaries.

Principal Investigator: Gregg A. Dean, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17FE-009

Reducing the Side Effects of a Sedative Commonly Used in Cats

Dexmedetomidine is a drug commonly used in cats for its calming and pain-relieving effects. It is also sometimes used before general anesthesia. Because the drug causes severe cardiovascular effects, however, it often cannot be used in older cats or those with systemic disease. MK-467 is a drug that may be able to prevent these cardiovascular side effects, while preserving the benefits of dexmedetomidine. Researchers will determine what dose of MK-467 would alleviate the negative cardiovascular effects of dexmedetomidine in cats without altering the drug’s sedative effect. Reducing the drug’s adverse effects would allow for its use in patients with systemic disease and likely would reduce the morbidity associated with its use.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Bruno H. Pypendop, University of California–Davis

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-030

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