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October 23, 2020 – A recent Morris Animal Foundation survey found feline behavior issues were a top concern of researchers and veterinarians – an area of critical, but underfunded, research importance. Behavior problems also rank high on the list of reasons cats are relinquished to shelters.

In October 2019, Morris Animal Foundation convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts on feline health and behavior to discuss this critical issue. The group’s findings informed the recent call for proposals for the prestigious Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award. This award is designed to support impactful companion animal research for which there is a pressing need, with the potential to make rapid, meaningful progress.

First awarded in 2016, the award was created to honor the legacy and vision of Dr. Mark L. Morris Jr., son of the Foundation’s founder, Dr. Mark Morris Sr. The feline behavior research project will be the second Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award to be awarded.

Six Key Cat Behavioral Problems Identified by the Blue Ribbon Panel


  • Inter-cat conflict
  • Impact of the environment
  • Kitten socialization
  • Cat-human interactions and owner awareness
  • Veterinarian awareness
  • Aging

The Blue Ribbon Panel identified six specific areas of special need in feline behavioral research with results published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The panel found that many behavior issues can lead to important feline health concerns including obesity, chronic vomiting and inappropriate behaviors such as house-soiling. For many cat owners and veterinarians, making this connection between behavior and health will help improve prevention, intervention and treatment plans for cats for a myriad of issues.

“I am very excited that the second Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award will be focused on feline behavior,” said Dr. Janet PattersonKane, Morris Animal Foundation Chief Scientific Officer. “As a veterinarian and a long-time cat lover, I can relate to the need for further, evidence-based information to help owners and veterinarians address these extremely common cat behavior problems.”

Research proposal submission for the Mark L. Morris, Jr. Award is underway and a decision on the awardee will be made by the end of the year.