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January 13, 2021 – Blood clotting is an important survival mechanism for both people and pets. However, blood clots that form when they shouldn’t can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

An abnormal clot can travel to any part of the body where it can lodge in a blood vessel, cutting off the blood supply to the affected area. If a clot is small, the injury might go unnoticed, but if the blood clot is big enough, it can cause serious or permanent damage, even sudden death.

Abnormal clot formation is a serious complication in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common feline heart disease. These often life-threatening clots are called arterial thromboembolisms, or ATEs, and can block the blood supply to the limbs.

Morris Animal Foundation has invested almost $800,000 in 12 studies to investigate ATE in cats, from understanding more about how clots form to new treatments.

One of our earliest studies was the FATCAT project. In this groundbreaking study, Dr. Daniel Hogan’s team at Purdue University showed that clopidogrel (commonly known as Plavix) was better than aspirin in preventing additional clot formation in cats that survived ATE. The results changed how veterinarians treat cats – not only those that have survived ATE, but also those at risk for clots – saving thousands of lives.

Clopidogrel has been a game changer when it comes to treating cats with blood clots, but some cats don’t respond as well to the drug as others. A Foundation-funded team at the University of California, Davis, is learning more about the genetic reasons for these variable responses among cats. The same team also is studying how clots form as a first step toward better treatments.

Researchers at the University of Georgia are recruiting cats with a history of ATE to join a study testing another type of blood thinner for the prevention of clots. Their goal is to add more tools for veterinarians to use for clot prevention in cats with heart disease.

ATE remains a serious threat to cats and a top research focus for the Foundation. Our funded researchers are committed to stopping clots before they endanger your cat.