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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

Reducing upper respiratory disease in shelter cats

Feline herpesvirus is highly contagious and one of the major causes of flu-like, upper-respiratory infections in cats. Early intervention with antiviral drugs in humans with herpesviruses reduces duration and severity of clinical signs but studies of these treatments have not been conducted in domestic cats. Researchers will investigate if administrating the antiviral drug famciclovir to cats as they arrive at shelters reduces duration and severity of clinical signs of feline herpesvirus. Finding a viable method to reduce feline herpesvirus infections as a method to control upper-respiratory disease outbreaks would greatly reduce euthanasia rates due to illness, and improve overall health and adoptability of cats in shelters.

Principal Investigator: David J. Maggs, BVSc, University of California, Davis

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16FE-018

Searching for Cancer-Causing Viruses in Cats

Veterinary scientists struck a major blow against feline lymphoma in the 1960s with the discovery that feline leukemia virus was the cause of most lymphomas. Despite this success, lymphoma remains the most common cancer affecting cats, leading researchers to speculate that other, as yet unidentified, viruses might be a cause. In this study, researchers will collect cancer and blood samples from cats and screen them for unidentified cancer-causing viruses. If these viruses are found, the information will be used to develop safer, more effective treatments for cats with cancer-causing viruses. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Julia A. Beatty, University of Sydney, Australia

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-001

Searching for Genes Responsible for Feline Obesity

Obesity and obesity-associated diseases are growing health threats to cats. A recent study determined that 19.0 percent of cats are overweight and 7.8 percent are obese. Multiple diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and dermatosis, are associated with excess body weight and may result in a lower quality of life and potentially an early death. Previous investigations revealed significant differences between lean and overweight cats. In lean cats, an average body fat content of 8.0 percent was observed, whereas overweight cats had an average body fat content of 25.6 percent. Researchers from the University of Sydney hypothesize that a single major gene may be responsible for a large fraction of the observed variation in body composition. This study will use SNP chips--a new genetic tool that could help better determine the genes involved.  SNP chips are a type of DNA chip that contain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic footprints found in DNA, to locate the genes potentially responsible for increased body weight. Identification of a causative mutation would allow genetic testing to facilitate the breeding of healthier cats. A better understanding of the control of body mass may also highlight better management options, such as diet.

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Bianca Haase, University of Sydney, Australia

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-513

Searching for Genetic Mutations Responsible for Heart Disease in Cats

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease diagnosed in cats. Researchers will perform genetic analysis to look for a genetic cause for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in several cat breeds, including the Sphynx, Bengal, Siberian, British Shorthair and Norwegian Forest Cat. Identification of causative genetic mutations for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will allow for early detection and genetic screening to reduce the prevalence of this disease. Information gained from this study will also help researchers improve treatments and clinical management strategies for cats with heart disease. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs, North Carolina State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-009

Secondary Prevention of Feline Cardiogenic Arterial Thromboembolization; Clopidorgrel vs Aspirin Trial: The FAT CAT Study

Cats with heart disease often develop blood clots, called cardiogenic embolism (CE). These clots can cause severe pain, loss of a pulse, cold hind limbs and posterior paralysis. Cats that survive an initial CE event frequently suffer a subsequent event. Affected cats experience a decrease in their quality of life and many are euthanized because of their high-risk for recurrence. Many anti-thrombotic drugs have been used to help prevent the recurrence of CE, but none have been tested in controlled veterinary trials. As a result, their effectiveness is uncertain and it is unknown whether one drug outperforms another. Aspirin was the first anti-thrombotic drug used to prevent blood clots in cats with heart disease, but it may be inadequate. This clinical trial will directly compare aspirin to a newer drug, clopidogrel, which is commonly used in humans to prevent clots. This would be the first study of its kind in veterinary medicine and should provide insight into which drug may best prevent clotting in cats with heart disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel F. Hogan, Purdue University

Sponsors: Sponsorship not needed/ nearly complete

Study ID: D04FE-005

Studying an Analgesic Drug Therapy in Animals

Effective pain management remains a chief concern for veterinarians. Pain has been demonstrated to worsen and lengthen illness as a result of the body’s stress response and to heighten sensitivity to pain even years later. In extreme cases pain can be a contributing cause of death. In the case of animals, it can be difficult to know with certainty how much pain is being experienced. This study will examine differences in interindividual patient response to analgesic drugs to address the questions of why some animals respond to the drugs administered and others do not and why adverse effects and exaggerated responses occur in some animals but not others. These data will help further scientists’ understanding of the effects of analgesic drug therapy and help veterinarians better manage pain in animals.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kristen M. Messenger, Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship, North Carolina State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: Cheryl Sedestrom

Study ID: D10MS-910

Studying Ways to Suppress Oral Cancer in Cats

Oral squamous cell carcinoma, the most common oral cancer in cats, carries a poor prognosis because it aggressively destroys the jaw bone. Researchers will determine whether suppressing a tumor-produced molecule will limit the breakdown of bone tissue. If this treatment is successful, suppressing this molecule could help prevent bone loss and improve the prognosis.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Beth S. Lee, The Ohio State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-004

Testing a Clot Buster in Cats with Severe Heart Disease

Blood clots are a fairly common and potentially fatal complication of heart disease in cats. In human medicine, acute blood clots can often be managed effectively with thrombolysis therapy, or “clot busting.” In this clinical trial study, researchers will investigate the effectiveness of thrombolysis therapy in client-owned cats with heart disease and recent acute blood clot. Results from this study could reduce mortality and improve quality of life of cats with blood clots associated with severe heart disease. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Julien Guillaumin, The Ohio State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-304

Testing a Novel Drug for Inhibiting Oral Cancer in Cats

Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma is a devastating and painful cancer. There are few available treatments, and there is no cure. Affected cats usually do not live more than six months. Researchers will investigate a novel therapeutic approach incorporating dasatinib, a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, into treatment. Dasatinib has shown promise in treating oral squamous cell carcinoma in humans, and this research focuses on the drug’s potential as a novel therapy for treating this disease in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stuart C. Helfand, Oregon State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-015

Testing an Anesthetic Technique to Control Pain in Cats

Administering local anesthetics into the abdomen is known to alleviate pain in dogs and people following abdominal surgery. There are no studies, however, on the use of this technique in cats. Researchers will investigate whether administering the anesthetic bupivacaine into the abdomen will provide pain relief in cats undergoing spay surgery. If proven effective, this simple, safe and cost-effective pain-relief method would benefit millions of cats that are spayed each year.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paulo Steagall, University of Montreal, Canada

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-007

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