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September 26, 2019 – Chris Hyde and his wife are Loyal Friend monthly donors to Morris Animal Foundation. Their generosity to improve the health of cats was sparked by a chance friendship with a big, loving cat named Luther.

The Hyde family always have several cats at once in their lives. They were not looking for another cat, but one middle-aged, fluffy orange cat caught their eye. Luther had been at the adoption center in their local pet supply store for a while.

“This little guy just struck me and stuck with me,” said Chris. “Every time I came to the store, he was still there. He seemed to be having a hard time being adopted.”

Chris went home after the shopping trip to discuss with his wife the rescue of Luther. The holidays were fast approaching, and they voted (along with their three cats) that the best present they could give themselves was this big, fluffy, Maine-coonish feline.

Luther did not disappoint. He had a bigger than life personality, played well with others and was a notorious snuggler. Luther’s appreciation for being rescued was expressed time and time again. Chris and his wife just adored him.

But while Luther shone light every where he went, his time with Chris and his wife was cut short by an insidious disease in cats, feline infectious peritonitis, also known as FIP.  It’s one of those diseases that many people don’t know about and, those who do, have had it thrust upon them. 

FIP is a fatal disease of cats that can arise following infection with a benign and common cat intestinal virus called feline enteric coronarvirus. FIP is a distressing disease for both cat owners and veterinarians because it’s often difficult to diagnose and there are no effective treatments. The disease is especially devastating to young cats in shelters.

Luther was not a typical FIP patient. Chris’ veterinarians estimated he was 7 or 8 years old at adoption. But, he probably had a hard life, exposed to lots of stuff, and definitely lived the shelter life for a while.

“After about six months with us, I came home and found Luther curled up in the litter box. We had just moved into a new place, and at first I thought he was just struggling with having a new home.”

But Chris quickly realized that was not the case. Luther started getting weaker. He began throwing up and his belly was bloated. Chris and his wife rushed Luther to their veterinarian. That’s when they began to learn about FIP, a disease with which they were unfamiliar. They made the difficult decision, as many pet owners do, to euthanize Luther, as there was no cure or treatments for him.

 “Nothing can bring a cat back once diagnosed with FIP,” said Chris. “But my wife and I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. We began searching for ways to give back and for organizations working on FIP research. Our journey led us to Morris Animal Foundation.”

Chris and his wife’s friendship with Luther led them to become Loyal Friends  to the Foundation. Their monthly gift supports cat health studies, including a suite of studies looking at ways to treat and prevent FIP in cats, so FIP doesn’t have to be a death sentence diagnosis.

“I became a monthly donor because Morris Animal Foundation is unique from other animal nonprofits I read about, just by the sheer breadth of research that they do – not only for cats, but for dogs, horses and wildlife,” said Chris. “The Foundation also puts time into finding the right projects to fund; funding diseases such as FIP that few people seem to be studying. It was the right fit for us and a way to honor Luther’s short time with us.”

Luther befriended the Hydes. The Hydes befriended the Foundation. And now, we are asking you to join Luther’s friendship chain to help cats and animals everywhere enjoy longer and healthier lives.

Sign up today to be a Loyal Friend to Morris Animal Foundation. Your generosity will help advance preventive medicine, improve diagnostic tools, and develop new treatments for dogs, horses, wildlife and cats. Thank you!