Awarding Feline Research Grants to Advance Cat Health | EveryCat Health Foundation

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 127 - EveryCat

Awarding Feline Research Grants to Advance Cat Health | EveryCat Health Foundation

Groundbreaking research focusing on cats can be hard to find. But that’s what EveryCat Health Foundation is for!

A nonprofit organization, EveryCat Health Foundation advances cat health by supporting research and education in this field.

According to Jackie Ott Jaakola, who serves as the Executive Director of the foundation,

“We work with individuals and the cat-loving public to do great things in the world for cat health. We fund cat health research, and we’ve been doing that for 54 years.”

All for Feline Health With EveryCat Health Foundation

everycat health foundation is all about cats

According to Vickie Fisher, who is also the Board President, EveryCat’s story started many years back. It began when the legal counsel for another cat association thought there was a need for a cat-focused organization.

The hero in the story was Robert Winn.

“He had this crazy idea that The Cat Fanciers’ Association needed to put together an organization that’s specifically focused on cat research. The reason for that is that, over the years, a lot of money and a lot of focus in science has been placed on dogs, but not as much on cats because cats have never had the same perceived value as dogs.”

Eventually, they funded their first grant in 1971, with Robert as its first President.

Years passed, however, and in 2020, they rebranded to become “EveryCat Health Foundation”.

This time around, their goal was to broaden their appeal to the owners of hundreds of millions of cats around the world.

With the tagline “every cat, every day, everywhere”, EveryCat is running all types of cat research nowadays.

Throughout their history, however, they’ve worked with different universities, scientists, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, pet food companies, and even the cat-loving public.

With all these partners, EveryCat Health Foundations gathers the information they need to advance cat health as a whole community.

“The way it works from the foundation’s perspective is we send requests for proposals several times a year. Sometimes, those are disease- or nutrition-specific proposals,”

Jackie shared.

everycat health foundation grant funding

As a matter of fact, a research study they funded way back figured out cats’ need for taurine in their diet.

They were also the ones funding some of the very first studies that helped find a cure for debilitating diseases like Feline Infectious Peritonitis.

Today, they work with researchers all over the world, trying to fund more cures or make cat wellness drugs more available.

They also push out education relating to teaching veterinarians and cat owners about the new cat treatments coming down.

Many of the people they talk to have connections with a veterinary school, are statisticians, are veterinarians, are researchers, have MDs, and even have PhDs.

“Something that I’m really proud of in our process is that we receive way more grants than we can possibly fund. And they all have merit because they’re all looking to help advance cat health.”

 

 

Learn more about EveryCat Health Foundation!

Visit their website at https://everycat.org/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Jackie: Hey, everybody. I’m Jackie Ott Jaakola and Vickie Fisher, who is also here today, is our board president.

And you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Excellent introduction, Jackie. So, thank you, Vickie welcome as well.

So, Jackie, why don’t we start off with you and tell us who you ladies are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Jackie: So, we work with a very hard-working group of individuals, scientists, researchers, board, and the cat-loving public to do great things in the world for cat health, how we became EveryCat.

And we’ll talk about what we’re doing now as well.

Vickie: Many years back, there was a gentleman by the name of Robert Wynn who was legal counsel for the cat financiers association and he had this crazy idea that— the cat financiers needed to put together an organization that specifically focused on cat research.

And the reason for that is, is that over the years, a lot of money and a lot of focus on science has been placed on dogs, not as much on cats.

Because cats have never had the same perceived value as dogs. And so, they all got together and decided, you know, what we do— we need to spend some of our money that searches for cures for cats.

So, that’s where we started. Well, almost 55 years now.

Chris: Wow, 55 years.

And I do love the fact that you point out, I mean, it isn’t to take anything away from our canine friends. We love them all, too.

But as you pointed out, there’s so much focus on dogs, and there’s not as much research out there on cats. And they’re very different animals, aren’t they?

Vickie: They are very different animals, and that’s some of the problems. But it has developed now that people are perceiving or they have figured out with all this research that cats are not little dogs.

And I think that’s pretty much a given now. For a long time, it wasn’t— I mean, people thought that cats could eat dog food, which they can’t, that cats you could expect a certain behavior out of a cat because it was just a little dog.

Well, you can’t. And so, it became quite obvious over the years, as more research was done in other areas, that the cats, in fact, were very very different.

They’re not little dogs, and they do need their own research. They do have their own issues. They do have their own health issues,  genetic issues, and behavioral issues.

That’s why we came about.

Chris: So Jackie, what are the types of things that you guys fund nowadays, then?

Jackie: It really runs the gamut.

And the way it works from the foundation perspective is we put out several times a year requests for proposals.

Sometimes those are— disease or nutrition-specific proposals. If we’re working with a particular entity like we— right now are getting ready to have a review specifically on diets.

So, the pet food companies have a vested interest in providing cats with the best healthiest diet possible.

So, nutrition is one thing, behavior, and working on studies with that, there are some extremely, you know, debilitating diseases feline infectious peritonitis.

And in fact, we were behind some of the very first funding, some of the very first studies that discovered that, that helped find a cure for that.

And now, we’ve worked with researchers all over the world. We’re just trying to help fund more cures or make that drug more available. And we also push out education relating to that, teaching veterinarians, teaching cat owners, just that new treatments are coming down the line, new things are available— really dental health, it runs the gamut.

Anything that helps keep your cat healthy, not your hats, but your cat healthy. We have been behind that research and funding that research in some way.

So, we are advocating for cat health.

Vickie: You know, Chris, one other thing that has become very important too, is that we have funded a lot of research in genetics, all sorts of things, even just colors, and it’s been a great benefit to them for the research in the genetic areas.

Chris: So, who are the type of people that you’re funding? Are these universities that are doing studies?

I’m thinking research is such a broad term, but what are the types of people that are applying for grants that you’re funding?

Jackie: Most folks are associated with a veterinary school, but that’s not necessarily criteria, but most times it is.

We’re also trying to elevate the thought process and the conversation as part of our granting. So, we always want to move forward to just help cats.

Chris: You’re absolutely helping every cat, but you may not help every cat tomorrow because this research studies take time and then that goes into the products and things like that that actually do ultimately change the cats lives.

Do you have any examples, maybe, of past things that you’ve funded that people might know of that have factored into products and things today?

Vickie: I think the big one actually is the one Jackie mentioned a little earlier, and that has to do with nutrition and the fact that cats needed a certain level of taurine in their diet.

And because the cat foods didn’t contain that, the cats were subject to more heart issues. And so, it was a big boon to the pet industry or to the cat food industry, if you will discover this information.

And immediately the formulas were changed and what have you to put that together.

Chris: So, I’m curious because you talked a lot about the education that comes out of this as well, and that’s another big part of what EveryCat does.

So, can you tell me more about that, Jackie?

Jackie: Upcoming, we have a two-day symposium, either virtual or in person, with the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program.

We’re devoting a half a day specifically to FIP studies, taking a retrospective look back and then look forward because some countries can treat this disease more easily and more readily than we can.

A lot of it is just having the conversations here locally, thinking a little bit outside the box, how we can help these cats and how we can move the needle forward still in treating disease and finding options for cats.

Chris: So, Jackie, what does the future look like? What’s the direction that EveryCat is going and what are the types of things you’re looking to fund?

Jackie: Our mission is to advance cat health studies, through cat health research.

We need to grow. There is merit in growth, so we are trying to reach and speak to a broader audience because they are there.

Vickie: There are a lot of researchers out there that are now interested in doing feline-only or feline-specific research.

So, that’s the good news. The bad news is, of course, is that it takes money to fund all those researchers and that’s our biggest challenge at this point.

But we do think that the time is right, the interest is there. We want to be able to encourage those researchers as much as possible to pursue feline-specific research.

Chris: Vickie, if people are listening and they want to contribute, they want to donate, how can they do so? How do they get to your website?

Vickie: Well, our website is very easy to find. It’s EVERYCAT.ORG and once you’re there, there’s a lot of information there.

It’s pretty easy to send us a donation and the cats would certainly appreciate it, for sure.

Jackie: We’d love to hear everyone’s story, so follow us on social media and share your stories, your photos.

Again, everyone has them and we would just love to hear them.

Chris: Jackie, Vickie, this has been really great. I’m really excited. I’m glad you guys rebranded because I think it really helps the people to understand the great work you’re doing.

And as we wrap up the show, I just always like to remind my viewers and listeners, that if you got an idea of something that can help animals, we want to know about it.

So, just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW We’d love to have you on the show and if you want to be a volunteer, be a Dooberteer, go to DOOBERT.COM where you can sign up and be a foster. You can be a transporter.

There are so many different ways that you can help our rescue animal friends, and we’d be glad to have you.

So, Jackie, Vickie, thank you so much again for coming on. Really appreciate it. And hopefully, we’ll see lots of new research coming.

Vickie & Jackie: Oh, I hope so, thank you, Chris. We appreciate the opportunity.

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