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May 16, 2018 – More time. It’s a common wish for owners of beloved pets diagnosed with cancer. For Maroya Walters, that wish came true. Her cat Crookshanks had his lifespan doubled thanks to quick action and outstanding veterinary care made possible by studies like the ones supported by Morris Animal Foundation.

Crookshanks, a Maine coon, was Maroya’s best friend from the moment she adopted him. He was by her side for many major milestones finishing a tough graduate program, marrying her husband and buying a house. Other than shredding a closet’s worth of shoelaces, Crookshanks was a sweet, mellow companion.

When Crookshanks was 8 years old, Maroya noticed a lump on his front, right leg and immediately knew something was wrong.

“I had a suspicion things weren’t right,” she said. “A lot of vets know that lumps and bumps in cats’ extremities don’t portend good things.”

A biopsy revealed the lump to be an aggressive osteosarcoma tumor, which is rare in cats. Crookshanks wasn’t a candidate for radiation, so Maroya opted to have his leg amputated and followed up with several rounds of chemotherapy, saving his life. Crookshanks recovered and lived another seven great years as the family kitty. Maroya’s daughter was 2 years old when Crookshanks died of another cancer, and she still talks about him.

“We were incredibly grateful for the extra time we had with him,” Maroya said. “I hope Morris Animal Foundation's work continues to help develop measures that are completely curative or that can keep the cancer at bay and extend good quality lives.”

Morris Animal Foundation has supported many cat cancer studies since 1979, as well as ones that addressed osteosarcoma in dogs. Those could offer insight into the disease’s feline form. Some examples include investigations that:

Gained a better understanding about osteosarcoma behavior early in disease, impacting treatment choices

• Developed a new, simple blood test for osteosarcoma, important for disease screening

Improved dosing of specific cancer drugs to enhance treatment outcomes for osteosarcoma

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end. With your support, we can give our pets longer, healthier lives. Gifts to the Foundation can be made in several ways. Maroya’s Aunt Clare made a memorial donation in Crookshanks’ name after he died.

“He was a part of her family, so we wanted to let her know we knew she was experiencing a really significant loss in her life,” said Clare. “It didn’t matter if the gift was used to help cats or any other species, just that the research is going on, I think, is important.”