1999 Feline Health Grants
March 1, 1999 (published)
Winn Feline Health Foundation

EveryCat Health Foundation
(Formerly Winn Feline Health Foundation)
Nine studies funded for a total of $109,535

1999 ENDOWMENT STUDIES (Funded from investment income derived from our perpetual Endowment Fund)

Genetic characterization of a feline calicivirus isolated from a cat with idiopathic lower urinary tract disease.
$5,139; John M. Kruger DVM, PhD; Cheryl Rice DVM; Aivars Vilnis PhD; Roger K. Maes DVM, PhD; Michigan State University.

A specific underlying cause has not yet been determined for the lower urinary tract diseases (LUTD) that affect an estimated quarter to half a million cats annually. Microscopic evidence suggests feline calicivirus may play a causative role. Recently a calicivirus from the urine of a cat with cystitis was isolated. It is unknown whether this urine calicivirus causes idiopathic cystitis or merely represents coincidental shedding of a wild type or vaccine strain of calicivirus. This study will help determine whether it is a causative agent of cystitis. The first goal is to sequence the portion of the virus' genetic code so it can be compared to the code of other strains. If the urine virus isolate is unique and if subsequent studies can show a cause and effect relationship for idiopathic cystitis, the second goal will be to develop specific treatments and/or more appropriate vaccines. Information gained from this study may lead to better treatment options and improved outcomes for cats with LUTD.

Comparison of glycemic control in diabetic cats receiving acarbose or acarbose combined with vanadium compounds.
$15,000; Deborah S. Greco DVM, PhD; Colorado State University.

Diabetes is a very common disease of cats occurring in more than one out of every 400 cats in the United States. Furthermore, the incidence of diabetes in cats appears to be increasing as a result of obesity in the feline population. Diet plays an important role in the development of obesity in cats and hence the development of diabetes mellitus. The investigator proposes to study the effects of giving acarbose, a diet pill that blocks starch and sugar absorption from the intestine, and vanadium, a mineral that mimics the action of insulin, to diabetic cats in order to alleviate the need for these cats to receive insulin injections.

Percutaneous ultrasound guided chemical ablation in cats with bilateral hyperthyroidism.
$6,050; Ed Feldman DVM; Andrea Wells DVM; William Hornof DVM, MS; Craig Long DVM; University of California, Davis.

Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal disorder of cats. Currently available therapeutic options, including daily medication, surgery or radioactive iodine, have potential for excellent results, but also have significant disadvantages. A newer treatment employed in human medicine uses ultrasound guidance to inject ethanol to destroy thyroid tissue. The investigators will study whether this technique can successfully be used in cats.


Genetics of feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
$14,950; Mark D. Kittleson, DVM, PhD; Kathryn M. Meurs DVM, PhD; University of California.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease of the heart muscle characterized by thickening of the left ventricular walls. The disease may result in heart failure, thromboembolism, and sudden death. The disease in humans is frequently caused by an inherited defect in the gene of a cardiac contractile protein. Clinically, the characteristics of feline HCM are very similar to that in humans with genetic HCM. These findings support the hypotheses that feline HCM is inherited and may be caused by mutations in contractile protein genes. In previous Winn-funded studies, the investigators examined several suspect genes for mutations in several groups of related cats. No abnormalities were identified. Currently, the investigators are closely examining the myosin binding protein C that preliminarily appears to be abnormal in Maine Coons. If mutations are identified, genetic tests will be formulated to easily and rapidly detect these mutations. This is a continuation of a grant first awarded in 1995.


Evaluation of transdermal fentanyl for analgesia in cats using pressure mat technology: elective onychectomy as a model for pain.
$15,000; Joanne N. Franks DVM; Harry W. Boothe DVM, MS; Gwendolyn L. Carroll DVM, MS; Lathrop Taylor PhD; Texas A & M University.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a pain-relieving patch containing the narcotic drug fentanyl in cats undergoing surgery. Cats will be assigned randomly to one of two study groups. Study cats will all be client owned cats undergoing elective onychectomy, with or without spay/neuter. One group will have a patch containing fentanyl placed on the skin, the other group will be given standard pain relieving drugs by injection and orally. Levels of pain will be assessed by using a special pressure sensitive mat to measure weight bearing before and after surgery. This model, using the onychectomy procedure and the pressure mat, provides an objective measure of pain relief that has been difficult to obtain and validate in any other way. Once it can be shown that the fentanyl patch provides significant pain relief, it will be used for many other procedures or situations where felines suffer pain.

A randomized investigation of the effects of pentoxifylline on left ventricular performance and clinical status in cats with idiopathic restrictive cardiomyopathy.
$12,996; Janice M. Bright MS, DVM; Chris Orton DVM; Khursheed Mama DVM; Ann Goncalves DVM; Colorado State University.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is a common cause of severe congestive heart failure and death in older cats. RCM is a poorly understood form of feline heart disease that affects the heart muscle. It leads to the replacement of the cardiac muscle with scar tissue and the progressive inability of the heart to effectively pump blood. The prognosis is poor for cats with this type of heart disease and treatment drugs to improve the pumping performance of the heart muscle have not been identified. The hypothesis of this study is that a cytokine, TNFa, causes inflammation and plays a role in the development and progression of feline restrictive cardiomyopathy. Further, that pentoxifylline, which has been successfully used to treat humans with similar conditions, may be a useful method of treating cats. Additionally, it is believed that this study will generate data that will improve general understanding of this type of feline heart disease.

Management of microbiological and immunological contributions to chronic diarrhea in multiple-cat environments.
$15,000; Janet E. Foley DVM, PhD; Niels C. Pedersen DVM, PhD; Angela G. Glasgow DVM; University of California, Davis.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the most frequent cause of chronic diarrhea and vomiting in the cat. Cats from multiple cat households have a higher incidence of diarrhea than cats from single cat households. Currently, diagnosis requires intestinal biopsy. This study will investigate the applicability of less invasive immunologic tests for IBD as used in humans. IBD is due either to an abnormal immune response against normal intestinal microbes or to a normal immune response against abnormal microbes. The second part of this study will investigate the possible role of pathogenic types of fecal microbes in chronic IBD of cats. With this information, management options based on anti-microbials and anti-inflammatory drugs can be developed.

Candidate gene screening and genetic mapping of loci for feline autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.
$15,000; Leslie A. Lyons PhD; Marilyn M. Raymond PhD; David S. Biller DVM, Stephen DiBartola DVM and Stephen J. O'Brien, PhD; Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a well documented abnormality in domestic cats, particularly in breeds of Persian origin. Investigators at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity (LGD) of the National Cancer Institute will collaborate with the researchers at Kansas and Ohio State Universities to identify one or more candidate genes for feline polycystic kidney disease. Three generations of affected cats will be recruited to participate. Blood samples will be collected from these cats to develop a genetic test to identify PKD cats at a very early age. The goal of the study is to make earlier detection possible with a simple blood sample or cheek swab so that affected individuals can be eliminated from planned breedings.

Trypsinogen-activation peptide (TAP) in serum and urine as a marker for acute pancreatitis in cats.
$10,400; Heidi Allen DVM; John Broussard DVM; Jorg Steiner DVM; David A. Williams MA, Vet MB, PhD; Caspary Research Institute, The Animal Medical Center.

Acute pancreatitis is a common and potentially severe disease in feline patients. Unfortunately, feline pancreatitis has been difficult to diagnose because cats do not consistently present with the typical clinical signs suggestive of pancreatitis in dogs or humans. Furthermore, tests used in humans and dogs are not applicable to cats. A great deal of scientific effort has been applied towards trying to develop reliable methods to diagnose feline pancreatitis. One test, feline serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity, has shown some clinical usefulness, but other conditions such as renal failure and emaciation may interfere with proper diagnosis. This study proposes to evaluate two new and promising tests, serum and urine levels of trypsinogen-activation peptide (TAP). This study will document if these new tests will more reliably diagnose feline pancreatitis than previously used tests.