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Why Cat Lovers Should LOVE the Winn Feline Foundation


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If you have a cat – give the Winn Feline Foundation a thank you card. Or better yet, take advantage of the fact that today, May 7, is Giving Tuesday. If you love cats, truly consider that nearly all we know about cat health, physical and even mental well-being, was once funded by the Winn Feline Foundation. For 52 years, Winn Feline is the only non-profit on the planet dedicated solely to support cat health studies.

Ricky

This organization means a lot to me personally for many reasons. For starters, back in 2002 our then famous piano playing cat, named Ricky, died of feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This heart disease, which is often (though not always) fatal is also surprisingly common. HCM may be the number one of cause of death in cats over about 2-years to 10-years to 12-years. For certain, HCM is the number one cause of sudden death.

With little known about HCM and zero that could be done to truly prolong life, I launched the Ricky Fund with the Winn Feline Foundation to raise money to better understand and even one day to treat or prevent HCM.

As a result of the Ricky Fund, prevention is now somewhat possible among Ragdoll and Main Coon cats, as an inexpensive cheek swab test is now available for those breeds to determine if a gene defect may exist. The result (anecdotally) is that less HCM is occurring in those breeds. That’s great, but the goal is to have less HCM in all cats! And while we do better understand the disease, we don’t at all have anything approaching a real treatment.

Another reason to love Winn, last November Winn hosted an FIP SymposiumPURRsuing FIP and WINNing, at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. This was the largest event ever held focused on a single feline disease. Researchers from around the globe presented to veterinary professionals, cat fanciers (breeders) and, cat shelter and rescue personnel and folks who just love cats.

A panel at November’s FIP Symposium

At this event, it was declared for the first time FIP is considered treatable. Ever since FIP had been described, the illness derived from the feline corona virus, was fatal. This incredible change occurred greatly because of Winn Feline funding of a drug that’s nearly identical to Remdesiivir. The name Remdesivir may sound familiar because that’s the drug recently approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19, caused by the novel human corona virus SARS CoV-2

While Remdesevir was created by the pharma company Gilead to treat Ebola (with modest results), a nearly identical drug used to treat kittens with FIP in various clinical trials is likely what really helped propel the drug to be tried for COVID-19.

Cutting edge studies are also be supported for cats using stem cells, and a variety of other therapies.

There’s no doubt, from when decades ago Winn Feline Foundation studies learned there wasn’t enough of an amino acid called taurine in cat food (causing widespread dilated cardiomyopathy in cats – a kind of heart disease) to today funding of studies around the globe – there’s no organization like Winn. If you love cats, the hope is that you consider giving.

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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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