Feline health studies funded

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Morris Animal Foundation announced in May that the organization's new Helping Shelters Help Cats program is funding three studies aimed at reducing stress in cats and increasing adoption rates.

Helping Shelters Help Cats is part of the foundation's Happy Healthy Cat Campaign, which is an effort to raise pet owner awareness of feline health issues and increase funding for health research and scientist training.

Study funding is made possible through an anonymous challenge gift through which the donor will match every dollar given to this program up to $500,000, for a potential total of $1 million.

Dr. Kate F. Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California-Davis, will receive MAF funds to study factors that increase the risk of outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infections in shelters and to develop practical, cost-effective recommendations to improve shelter cat health and comfort.

An international team from the United States, Canada, and Australia is spearheading the second study. The researchers will analyze shelter conditions that cause emotional stress, and plan to develop effective behavioral interventions to minimize the spread of upper respiratory tract infections in cats.

The third study will be conducted at The Ohio State University by a team of veterinary scientists trying to identify ways to increase cat safety and comfort by altering their surroundings. Researchers will use the results of their study to create a training program for reducing stress in shelter cats through cage and environmental enhancements.