Cat Health Network Update

Cat Health Network Update

The Cat Health Network, a coalition of non-profits which support cat health studies, was created by it was thought that every once in a while together groups can do more than working a part.  In many ways, the WINN Feline Foundation is the lead organization, after all, Winn is the only group involved which is dedicated to cats and only funds cat health studies. Here's a CHN update:

SCHAUMBURG, IL-) - Partners of the Cat Health Network (CHN) today released final results of several major research projects that investigated genetic predispositions to disease in cats.

CHN officials reported that, among many significant accomplishments, scientists have

  • Succeeded in creating a high-density genetic map of the cat genome
  • Identified a genetic mutation linked to muscle weakness in certain species of cat
  • Concluded that genetic factors -- in addition to lifestyle -- influence body weight

Other studies revealed that, despite scientists' hypotheses, genes involved in white coat color were not also associated with deafness in white cats and that no significant genetic indicator predetermined a cat's response to catnip. For a complete summary of findings, contact Allen Byrne at

These findings will help advance feline medicine and offer veterinarians new ways to improve the health and welfare of cats, said Dr. Roy Smith, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AFP) and liaison to the CHN.

"The CHN funds research efforts that help accelerate advancements in addressing the many problems we face in feline medicine," Dr. Smith said.

Founded in 2011 in response to cats lagging behind dogs in visits to the veterinarian, CHN comprises the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation (WFF) and American Association of Feline Practitioners (AFP). Together, the partners are committed to making a substantial difference in the health and welfare of domestic cats by funding targeted health studies.

This research money is critical to advancing feline medicine, said Dr. Wayne Jensen, Morris Animal Foundation's chief scientific officer. "The cat is the most underfunded domestic animal in research," he noted.

Research funded by CHN focuses on feline cancer, chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, feline lower urinary tract disease, and pain management. Scientists used gene chips containing feline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)-variations from the common feline DNA sequence that can be used as markers to track down genes responsible for genetic diseases-to conduct their investigations.

The research conclusions will continue to fill in gaps in knowledge about the cat genome, said Dr. Vicki L. Thayer, president of WFF. "The results from these studies show that genetic mutations do cause many diseases or enhance susceptibility, and tests can now be developed to identify carriers," said Dr. Thayer.

CHN is an initiative of the Animal Health Network, a collaboration of like-minded groups working together toward scientific study of feline, canine and equine health.

"The AVMF is proud to be a member of the CHN," said AVMF Executive Director Michael Cathey. "Progressive support is needed to continue making crucial advancements in developing, testing, producing, and distributing knowledge and products related to improved animal health."

These research studies were made possible by Hill's Pet Nutrition, which donated the SNPs used in these studies, valued at about $1 million, to Morris Animal Foundation in 2008, and the AVMF, WFF and AAFP, who each committed $100,000 to fund the approved studies.


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