I recently attended the pet blogging and social media conference known as BlogPaws. For those of you not familiar with BlogPaws, it is an event which brings together pet bloggers, social media users, pet brands, and others within the pet industry.


Not only does the conference provide a great opportunity to meet new people and network with colleagues within the industry but it also offers the chance for those of us in the business to learn more about blogging and social media and to hone our craft, so to speak.


One of the high points of BlogPaws for me personally was being named as the recipient of the Winn Feline Foundation Media Appreciation award. This was an honor that was totally unexpected but of great meaning to me, particularly since I am the first veterinarian to receive this award.


The award was presented by someone I’ve admired and respected for some time now, preeminent pet blogger, columnist and broadcaster Steve Dale. I’ve had the pleasure of calling Steve a friend now for several years. We first met through BlogPaws, which somehow seems fitting.


Steve was actually the inaugural recipient of the Winn Feline Foundation award, which made the presentation even more meaningful. Equally significant is the fact that, as a veterinarian, I use the information provided through research funded by Winn Feline Foundation on a daily basis, each time I treat a cat in my practice.


For those of you not familiar with Winn Feline Foundation, they fund studies that improve cat health; that is their sole purpose. Established in 1968, they are a non-profit organization and their funding is responsible for much of what we know about cats and cat health today.


Funding through the Winn Feline Foundation was responsible for the discovery of the link between taurine and dilated cardiomyopathy in cats. This discovery virtually eradicated the existence of this disease in our pet cats. While once it was commonly diagnosed, now it is diagnosed only rarely and usually in cats that are being fed a home-made diet that lacks sufficient taurine. This is only one example of many that illustrates how Winn has changed and improved the lives of our cats.


Winn Feline Foundation’s dedication to cat health continues today through funding of various research projects. Grants currently being funded investigate topics that include feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), oral cancer, calicivirus, and kidney disease. From a press release published by Winn Feline Foundation: “This year we awarded $173,121.56 in grants for studies on a variety of diseases, including gastrointestinal disease associated with E.coli infection in kittens, FIP, HCM, kidney disease, oral squamous cell cancer, feline calicivirus, and new drug treatments for Tritrichomonas foetus.”


Winn Feline Foundation does, of course, accept donations. These donations help with funding the research that is so necessary for the cats we all love. If you’re looking for a good cause, Winn Feline Foundation may be the one for you if you’re a cat lover. If you’re looking for a gift for a cat lover, a donation in their name would likely be appreciated.


Visit the Winn Feline Foundation website for more information about their activities. My hope is that, through the research being funded by Winn, eventually we will conquer diseases like feline infectious peritonitis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in much the same way that we have overcome the threat of dilated cardiomyopathy in our cats.


Thank you very much Winn Feline Foundation (and Steve Dale and the team at BlogPaws) for recognizing my contribution to cat health. Keep up the good work. What you do does make a difference!


Dr. Lorie Huston


Image: Ermolaev Alexander / Shutterstock