24 Aug HOW CAN BREEDERS HELP WITH FIP RESEARCH?
Genetic research has great potential, but it takes time and money. Because FIP is a purely animal disease, there will be limited funding from sources such as the NIH. It’s important to start banking DNA and assembling pedigrees showing relationships between affected and healthy cats.
Breeders should not be ashamed of FIP. If you breed enough cats, long enough, you will experience FIP. The reluctance of breeders to talk about it has been a huge detriment to FIP research. For instance, if everyone would cooperate, we could determine whether or not there is a genetic basis for FIP resistance or susceptibility in rapid time. If there is a genetic basis, we could then determine the gene or genes involved and develop tests to predict which cats to breed or not to breed. Fortunately, some breeders are now coming forward and cooperating in raising funds for FIP research and providing information and materials (such as DNA and FIP virus isolates) from the field. Such people have come out in the past, but they usually get frustrated and give up after a while. So if we want to succeed in understanding this disease we must all work on together to collect the DNA, case and pedigree information that will help us advance our research.
FIP affects all breeds, but it is impossible to spread genetic studies across all breeds. At this time researchers at UC Davis are concentrating on Burmese and Birman cats, but will include several other breeds as well. Researchers are trying to get as many breeders as possible to come together and provide at least three generational pedigrees, with DNA samples (cheek swabs with Q-tips) of families known to produce affected kittens. These families are essential for determining the genetic basis for FIP susceptibility. Lines that have NOT produced FIP are also needed for the study. The data received will be coded so confidentiality will be maintained. This should reassure breeders so they can provide us with full data and pedigrees on FIP cases and related cats they have experienced in their catteries.
Samples for the study are being divided into three groups: cats who have died or are dying of FIP, cats related to those affected by FIP, and cats from lines that have not experienced FIP for at least three generations.
We are also interested in obtaining small samples of diseased tissues from cats that have FIP. Instructions for collection and shipment of such samples can be found on this website.
It is also recommended that all breeders obtain DNA samples from all cats in their cattery and from new litters of kittens before they go to homes. Collecting and banking DNA will be invaluable not only for FIP research, but also for future research on other feline diseases.