Morris Animal Foundation has announced grants for six veterinary researchers to study various cat diseases. They will start this year, and there may be one or two of interest to the cat parents who read this blog.
According to the February issue of Veterinary Practice News, cited below, the topics of the studies will include:
* Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
* Oral squamous cell carcinoma and the possible use of radiation therapy in feline oral squamous cell carcinoma
* Tooth resorption
* Intestinal lymphoma
* Development of a feline infectious peritonitis mRNA vaccine
The various studies on cat diseases and treatment will be conducted at Colorado State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Edinburgh (UK), the University of California, and the University of Missouri.
"Cats are an important part of so many people's lives," said the Morris Animal Foundation's vice president of scientific operations, Kathy Tietje, Ph.D., MBA. "Investment in research advancing their health and well-being continues to be a priority for the foundation."
With loving human care, good nutrition, a safe environment, and advances in veterinary medicine, it is not uncommon for a cat to live 20 or 21 years. However, as cats live longer, they will develop diseases associated with aging, just like humans.
One of the main cat diseases addressed in these new research grants is feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome. According to Veterinary Practice News, the study will focus on "delineating age-related neuropathology and correlations with behavioral abnormalities in feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome." The results of this study will give vets better criteria for diagnosing cognitive dysfunction versus behavior caused by normal aging in cats.
Cats can start manifesting symptoms of feline cognitive dysfunction as early as ten years of age. Watch for these behaviors in your cat: disorientation, getting lost in a corner or his own backyard, showing a diminished interest in play and food, sleeping a lot, meowing frequently, or loudly vocalizing during the night. If your feline shows some of these symptoms, see your veterinarian immediately.
Researchers will also look at "novel therapeutic methods" to treat oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in cats, including radiation. According to VCA Animal Hospital, cited below, SCC is a malignant tumor of the cells that line the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts." It is the most common oral tumor in cats and usually has a grim prognosis. VCA Animal Hospital says, "It can be caused by exposure to smoke, flea collars, and papilloma-like viruses."
Check your cat's mouth periodically for abnormalities, such as lesions. If you note a general lack of appetite, tenderness around the face, excessive panting, or drooling, a visit to your vet is in order.
Feline tooth resorption is another cat disease of interest to researchers. Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine said, "This is a condition in which the body begins breaking down and absorbing the structures that form the tooth." Tooth resorption is painful, but we know cats are experts at hiding pain, so be watchful for drooling, problems chewing food, or total disinterest in food. Researchers will be investigating the role that genetics play in whether or not a cat will develop tooth resorption.
Also the topic of a new study, intestinal lymphoma is the most common lymphoma found in cats, accounting for 50-70% of cases. According to the VCA Animal Hospital, intestinal lymphoma affects the cat's gastrointestinal tract and is usually seen in cats from 9-13 years of age. Symptoms include but are not limited to weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. See your vet if your feline has chronic stomach issues.
Veterinary research gives hope to many people with cats suffering from diseases. If your feline has been diagnosed with one of the conditions discussed here, ask your vet about new advances in treatments and refer to this blog if desired. Also, check out the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cited below, which lists current clinical studies in which your vet might refer your feline for inclusion.
Quote to remember: "If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain
Veterinary Practice News, February 2023 issue
"New feline health studies receive funding"
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (Feline Health Center)
VCA Animal Hospitals
"Oral Tumors - Squamous Cell Carcinoma"
American Association of Feline Practitioners
"List of clinical trials"