The Morris Animal Foundation has awarded Dr. Carlo Siracusa, Associate Professor of Clinical Behavioral Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), received the second Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award for groundbreaking study on the effects of chronic inflammation, bestowing knowledge, behavior, and general health in older cats .
“Ideally, this study could lead to the development of innovative tools for the early detection and monitoring of chronic inflammation that affects the long-term well-being of cats,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, Chief Scientific Officer of the Morris Animal Foundation. “What we learn can also help cat owners understand the relationships between physical and cognitive health so that they can help maintain the quality of life for their pets at different stages of life.”
Funding up to $ 200,000 annually for three years for three years, the award is designed to promote effective research in pets for which there is an urgent need, with the potential to make rapid and meaningful advances.
Recent surveys of cat owners show that approximately 28% of cats between the ages of 11 and 14 develop signs of behavioral problems and cognitive decline, with the prevalence rising to over 50% in cats aged 15 years or older. Some experts believe these numbers underestimate the true number of cats suffering from significant mental decline.
“There’s growing evidence that the immune system and the inflammatory response have an impact on behavior, but we don’t have enough data on cats yet,” said Siracusa. “We want to study how physical health affects mental health and vice versa.”
Siracusa, together with his university colleagues and a team from the Italian University of Milan, will examine 100 cats owned by customers who are 7 years of age or older. Researchers will first perform a routine veterinary exam on each cat to look for signs of chronic inflammation, including specific blood markers and physical changes. Qualified veterinary behavioral researchers then evaluate the cats’ behavior, their living environment and their cognitive abilities using validated questionnaires and behavioral tests.
Siracusa, director of animal behavior and elementary education at Penn Vet, is a leading voice in pet behavioral medicine. He obtained his DVM from the University of Messina in Italy and a PhD in Veterinary Medicine and Health from the Spanish Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He is a diplomat from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavior Medicine.
First presented in 2016, the Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award was created to promote the legacy and vision of Dr. Mark Morris Jr., the son of Dr. Mark Morris Sr., the founder of the foundation. Mark Morris Jr. was known for pioneering the nutrition of small and exotic animals and his commitment to the Morris Animal Foundation’s mission to promote animal health through excellent science.
Via the Morris Animal Foundation
The Morris Animal Foundation’s mission is to combine science and resources to advance animal health. The company is headquartered in Denver and was founded in 1948. It is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding more than $ 136 million in critical studies on a wide range of species. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.
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