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Cat Health Studies Revealed: Winn Feline Foundation Symposium


The Winn Feline Foundation has been providing continuing education on cutting edge feline health issues to veterinarians, veterinary technicians, cat fanciers and cat lovers for 36 years in their annual symposium. This year’s is June 26 in New Orleans, from 4 to 6 p.m.and there are still a pawful of spaces remaining if you want to sign up.

As always – amazing speakers….and topics of GREAT interest this year, in particular.

Famed veterinary cardiologist Dr. Philip Fox of the Animal Medical Center, New York City on: “New Perspectives on Survival: Comparison of Healthy Cats and Cats With HCM (feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)  – A Global Study.”

Fox is a well-recognized international speaker and has won many honors, including the North American Veterinary Conference Speaker of the Year, and the Award of Merit from the NYPD, City of New York. He has published extensively, including two cardiology textbooks, and is one of the founding editors of the Journal of Veterinary Cardiology.

Dr. Beth Licitra of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine on feline infectious peritonitis (FIP): “Pathogenesis of Feline Coronavirus is Linked to Mutation of a Critical Viral Activation Site”

Dr. Licitra became interested in research as a teenager while volunteering at her local health department. Currently, she is a DVM/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Whittaker. Her previous work experiences include a fellowship in Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is currently researching coronaviruses with the goal of understanding how these pathogens extend their tropism to infect new cells and new species.

Winn – which raises money for anything and everything related to feline health – has a special interest in HCM and FIP with dedicated funds for each:

I began the fund for HCM, so it’s awfully close to my heart (apologizing for the pun). I had a cat, named Ricky, who was my heart, who succumbed to HCM (by far, the most common heart disease in cats). Ricky would have been a YouTube sensation if YouTube was around back then.

Though, he was a TV sensation, appearing on many national TV shows, demonstrating his musical skills on a “cat sized” piano. And Ricky knew many other behaviors from jumping through hoops to jumping over little kids to giving a “high-four.” Via the Ricky Fund Winn has raised well over $100,000, and that includes dollars for research responsible for identifying gene defects for HCM in Ragdoll and Maine Coon cats. While not a perfect test, this knowledge has saved lives, preventing HCM from happening – and saved families from heartbreak.

Bria Fund was named after Bria, a Blue Lynx Point Birman. Despite her inner and exterior beauty and bubbly personality, as a kitten she succumbed to deadly feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

This complex disease may be the most devastating disease seen by veterinarians, and it’s heartbreaking because most often it occurs to kittens. There are two forms of FIP: Effusive (wet) and Non-Effusive (dry). With funding from Winn, researchers have, for starters, learned to better understand the illness. Funding has also made it possible to at least improve quality and maybe quantity of life for some cats with the dry form of FIP.  Behind Bria Fund founder Susan Gingrich, and an army of concerned cat lovers and fanciers around the world, money raised continues to make a difference.

As a Board member of the Winn Feline Foundation, my goal is to find a cure or treatment for both of these devastating diseases. And I believe we can (but not without help).

If you’re interested join us for the Symposium. You’ll have a chance to learn, and dollars raised to go right back into cat health studies. The Symposium is at the Sheraton New Orleans500 Canal St.

Registration Fee (includes light snacks with cash bar) is only $30. You can still register HERE, despite what the website says about an earlier deadline because the room’s been expanding so there is space for some more for folks. Following the presentations there will be time for Q&A’s too!

(This program has been submitted for 2 hours of continuing education credit for veterinarians & veterinary technicians in jurisdictions which recognize  AAVSB RACE approval.)


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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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