WHAT IS THE CORNELL FELINE HEALTH CENTER?
by Fred W Scott, Former Director, .Cornell Feline Health Center
The Cornell Feline Health Center is a veterinary medical specialty center devoted to improving the health and welfare of cats throughout the world. The Feline Health Center is located within the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University is one of twenty-seven veterinary colleges in the United States, and it is the only veterinary college in the state of New York. Dr. James Law, a Scottish veterinarian, was one of the original faculty of Cornell University. The first Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree in the United States was awarded in 1876 to Dr. Daniel E. Salmon, who became the first director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, currently known as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The concept of a feline medical specialty center began in 1973 as part of a long-range planning effort at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell. In reviewing the present and anticipated future of veterinary medicine, and more specifically veterinary medicine as it is related to cats, it became obvious that if many of the serious disease problems of the cat were to be solved, a concerted effort would have to be applied. Because many experts in various fields of small-animal medicine were already on the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine, it seemed appropriate to draw these individuals together for the particular benefit of cats and, less directly, cats' owners. A proposal was made to Dr. George Poppensiek, then dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, who enthusiastically approved the concept and subsequently guided the proposal through the appropriate channels. The Board of Trustees of Cornell University, in February 1974, approved the formation of the Cornell Feline Research Laboratory. The name was subsequently changed to Cornell Feline Health Center to more accurately depict the efforts and goals of the Feline Center.
The initial staff of the Feline Health Center consisted of a part-time director and a part-time secretary, with several veterinarians on the college faculty agreeing to serve as participants in their areas of expertise. These participants held full-time appointments in other areas of the college and received no special remuneration for their efforts on behalf of the Feline Health Center. As time went on, full-time staff members were added, including secretarial staff, an editor, a feline extension veterinarian, and various research scientists, graduate students, and technicians.
At the outset, there were no funds available to support any of the Feline Health
Center's activities and there did not appear to be any hope of obtaining support for them
from the state, Cornell University, or the College of Veterinary Medicine. It quickly
became clear that if such a center was to be successful, an active fund-raising effort
would have to be mounted. So, with a concerted effort over several years, the Cornell
Feline Health Center has successfully developed an active fund-raising program to support
its various activities.
The purposes of the Cornell Feline Health Center are (1) to find ways of preventing and curing diseases of cats, (2) to educate veterinarians and cat owners about feline health, and (3) to aid veterinarians when new or unknown feline diseases occur. In short, the faculty and staff of the Feline Health Center are dedicated to improving the health and welfare of cats.
Research is the cornerstone to providing better health care for cats. Veterinarians must have specific information with which they can make intelligent decisions on the best treatment and prevention regimes for cats. New vaccines and specific treatment protocols do not just appear - they require dedicated effort, often over several years. The Cornell Feline Health Center is dedicated to obtaining that information about diseases of cats and cat health management that will enable the private practitioner to maintain healthy and happy pet cats. Research is designed for the overall benefit of cats, not for the benefit of humans. Often, however, information gained about the feline disease under investigation will provide information that can also be applied to similar human diseases.
Faculty and staff of the Feline Health Center are involved with numerous areas of research. Some of these areas include :
1. Infectious Diseases. Investigations of infectious diseases have been
aimed at developing accurate diagnostic
tests, improved treatments, and effective vaccines. Over the years, almost every infectious disease of cats
has been studied. Many of the current vaccination and treatment procedures conducted daily in veterinary
clinics across the United States have been influenced by these studies at Cornell.
2. Nutrition. Scientists have studied the basic nutritional requirements of
cats in order to advise owners on
the proper nutrition and feeding of cats. Once the normal nutritional state is understood, the relationship
between nutrition and disease can be established.
3. Behavior. Scientists with expertise in behavior have studied both the
normal and abnormal behavior patterns
of cats and ways of dealing with cats when abnormal behavior does occur.
4. Reproduction/genetics. Normal and abnormal reproduction of the cat has been
studied, including the normal
hormonal status before, during and after pregnancy. The etiologies of many reproductive, neonatal, and
congenital diseases have been clarified.
5. Dermatology. Numerous skin diseases of the cat have been identified and
characterized by the participating
faculty of the Feline Health Center.
6. Internal medicine. Several naturally occurring systemic diseases of cats
have been identified and
characterized by participating members of the Feline Health Center. Feline patients referred to the Cornell
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital provide a wealth of information that enables clinicians to better
understand the disease involved, hence to better treat the condition.
Research accomplishments over the years by the Feline Center have been numerous. Some of these include:
1. Clarification of the role of maternal immunity in kittens as it affects vaccination against feline panleukopenia.
2. Aid in the development of respiratory vaccines against feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.
3. First isolation and characterization of feline reovirus as a cause of respiratory disease.
4. First isolation and characterization of feline rotavirus as a cause of enteritis in young kittens.
5. First identification of feline astrovirus as a cause of enteritis.
6. First isolation of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus in the laboratory.
7. Characterization of the role of antibodies and macrophages in the pathogenesis of FIP.
8. Attenuation of FIP virus to establish an experimental FIP vaccine
9. First isolation and characterization of feline herpesvirus-2 as a cause of urinary disease and urolithiasis.
10. First identification of feline immunodeficiency virus in nondomestic felids.
11. Identification of feline coronaviruses as a cause of inflammatory abdominal
disease, by use of a new
The Feline Health Center is dedicated to providing information about feline diseases and feline care to veterinarians and owners. This is accomplished through many means, including publications, seminars and short courses, and electronic media.
Scientific information obtained from research is first published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, so that the information is available to all veterinarians and the entire scientific community. Several publications are produced by the center to provide information to veterinarians and cat owners. These are discussed below.
The Feline Health Center also benefits from the guidance of the Feline Advisory Council, which serves as a vital link with the public at large. The council is made up of approximately twelve individuals from allover the United States; it includes clinicians, breeders, scientists, writers, and owners.CONSULTATION AND DIAGNOSTIC SERVICE
The Louis J. Camuti Diagnostic and Consultation Service was established in the early 1980s as a living memorial to the late Dr. Camuti, who conducted a house-call feline practice in New York City for over fifty years. This service has been gradually developed as funds have become available. The key position for this service is the feline extension veterinarian, who handles and coordinates the interactions between the veterinarians and cat owners and the staff of the Feline Health Center.
There is close interaction between the Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service and the Diagnostic Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine, with the feline extension veterinarian coordinating this interaction. As new diagnostic tests are developed by the staff of the Feline Health Center, this information is passed on to the Diagnostic Laboratory, where these tests are put into routine operation.
The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital within the Department of Clinical Sciences
serves as a referral clinic for special problems in feline medicine and surgery.
Clinicians refer cases to this hospital for special care, and the cooperative efforts of
the clinical staff, the research staff of the Feline Health Center (armed with the latest
information about the particular condition), and the staff of the Diagnostic Laboratory
provide an impressive combined effort to give the sick cat the best chance possible.
The core staff of the Feline Health Center is composed of a director, an assistant director, an editor, secretarial staff, research staff, graduate students, and technical support staff. The dedication and diligent work of this core staff have played a major role in the success of the Feline Health Center. Special mention should be made of the exceptional work of June Kirvan-Tuttle, editor, without whose exemplary efforts The Cornell Book of Cats would never have come to fruition.
Approximately thirty faculty members and staff of the College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences compose the participating staff of the Feline Health Center. This group of dedicated individuals makes up an impressive list of experts in feline medicine and surgery. Many of these participating staff members are leading experts in their particular area of specialty. Many of them have contributed to The Cornell Book of Cats; publication is in large part a result of their efforts.
Facilities of the Cornell Feline Health Center are incorporated into the College of Veterinary Medicine. There is a group of offices and laboratories for the central or core staff of the Cornell Feline Health Center, and participating members have their own offices and laboratories within several departments in the college. The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and the Diagnostic Laboratory are key facilities for carrying out the mission of the Feline Health Center. Extensive additions to the College of Veterinary Medicine have been constructed, and will greatly benefit the college and the center.EXOTIC FELINE'S
Although the primary mission of the Cornell Feline Health Center is to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats, information is obtained by the center that will help exotic and endangered species of felines as well. Exotic cats are susceptible to most of the same diseases as the domestic cat. The faculty and staff of the Feline Health Center have worked with veterinarians from several zoological facilities to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of special conditions. For example, a special project for several years has been to provide part of the laboratory and diagnostic support services for a long-term study of the Florida panther. information obtained from these studies has helped wildlife veterinarians in their efforts to save this endangered species of exotic cat.PUBLICATIONS
Feline Health Topics is a scientific publication sent to small-animal veterinarians in the United States four times a year. This newsletter provides practical information that veterinarians can utilize in their practices.
Perspectives on Cats is published four times a year as a newsletter to provide basic feline health care information for cat owners. This newsletter is sent to all members of the Cornell Feline Health Center.
Feline Information Bulletin is published periodically, usually once a year, to review the latest information about a particular disease.
Client information brochures are published by the Feline Health Center on a variety of topics. These are sold to veterinarians to provide information about particular diseases or basic cat care for their clients. They are designed to facilitate education of clients while saving time for the busy practitioner. After reviewing the brochure, the client can then further discuss the topic with the veterinarian if necessary.
Symposium proceedings are published from time to time. An in-depth, four-to-five-day-long "Feline Practitioners Seminar," co-sponsored by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, is held annually at Cornell for veterinarians interested in improving their skills in feline medicine.
International publications. Publications from the Cornell Feline Health Center are sent to individuals in several foreign countries. In addition, Feline Health Topics is translated into Japanese by a commercial Japanese company and made available to small-animal veterinarians in Japan. Periodically, excerpts from Feline Health Topics are translated into several European languages and disseminated throughout Europe.
Electronic media (computer programs) are being developed for veterinarians as a form of continuing education and as diagnostic tools. These media put the clinician in instant contact with the latest information about a particular disease and with a recognized expert in the particular area in question. The center also has a Home Page on the World Wide Web, http://web.vet.cornell.edu/public/fhc/felinehealth.html, where timely information about feline health care is available to veterinarians and cat owners.FUND-RAISING
Because the center does not receive financial support directly from the state, college, or university, it is the cat owners themselves and their veterinarians who play a key role in keeping the Feline Health Center in operation.
Contributions from owners, cat clubs, and veterinarians are a vital part of the overall support of the Feline Health Center.
Bequests are especially appropriate ways of saying "Thank you" to one or more special feline companions. Bequests are usually invested through the Development office of Cornell University, and only the income received from those investments is used to support the Cornell Feline Health Center. Thus, a bequest or a living trust ensures long-term and even indefinite support for feline studies.
Research grants and contracts are obtained by the research scientists at the Feline Health Center whenever possible. These may be from governmental funds, private foundations, or commercial companies.
Memberships in the center are available for both cat owners and veterinarians, These memberships enable individuals to become partners of the Cornell Feline Health Center, and together, with such support, we can continue the effort to eliminate or prevent all diseases of cats.
In memoriam Programs provide an especially meaningful way for a veterinarian to recognize the loss suffered when an owner must part with a special feline companion. The thoughtful contribution by the veterinarian is acknowledged to the owner by the Cornell Feline Health Center and helps the owner to work his or her way through that difficult period of grief following the loss.WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
The future of cats as pets and the future of feline medicine could not be brighter. The cat has surpassed the dog as the more popular pet in the United States and in several other countries; in metropolitan areas, cats are especially popular as apartment pets. Cats are receiving better and better veterinary care: more information is being collected, new vaccines are becoming available for serious diseases, and more effective treatments are gradually being developed, all of which contribute to their health and longevity.
The future of the Cornell Feline Health Center is also bright, The center has an excellent staff, and there are many outstanding participants who lend their expertise to improving the health of cats everywhere. Support from the veterinary profession and the cat owning public continues to grow and to provide the base support to keep the program on course. Therefore, the faculty and staff of the Cornell Feline Health Center takes this opportunity to extend a hearty "Thank you" to all those who have supported the center's efforts over the years, through encouragement and financial means.
Dr. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation &
Dr. Louis J. Camuti was the first veterinarian in the United States to
devote his entire practice to cats, making house calls on cats and their owners for over
sixty years. Since his death in February 1981, friends have sought to honor his memory and
lifework through the Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Fund, which continues his tradition of
compassion, dedication, and a pioneering professional commitment to the health of cats.
Information on feline diseases and health care has burgeoned during the last few years.
However, this abundance of information makes it very difficult for practitioners and cat owners
to stay current on the newest developments in feline health care. In response to this need, the
service attempts to make this information available in a timely, efficient and accessible manner.
The Cornell Feline Health Center's consulting veterinarian answers your specific questions,
giving expert advice based on the most current information available in feline medicine.
You can easily access this service by calling 1-800-KITTY-DR from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 to 4
p.m. (Eastern time) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (excluding holidays). A $35 fee for
the consultation helps the center defray the costs of this service. Payment can be made by
MasterCard, Visa or Discover credit cards.
The consulting veterinarian also serves as a liaison with the college's Diagnostic Laboratory.
The development of new diagnostic tests will set a new standard in feline medicine. Accurate
diagnosis of diseases enables veterinarians to prescribe the most effective treatment for feline
Cat Owners and Breeders
Currently there are over 2,400 cat lovers who show their support by being members of the
Cornell Feline Health Center. Choose the membership category that bests suits your needs and
your financial giving capabilities. The categories are:
Basic: Members receive a choice of two cat health care brochures and our annual report.
Supporting: Members receive CatWatch, a monthly 8-page newsletter; two cat health care brochures, and the annual report.
International: Same as supporting membership.
If you are a veterinarian this membership is for you! Professional members receive benefits that
are useful in their practices, from discounts on client brochures to camera-ready articles for use
in client newsletters or for special flyers.
If you want more information on memberships, please call
The Cornell Feline Health Center at (607) 253-3001.
Linda A. Schumacher, Conference Coordinator
Office of Continuing Education
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University, Box 52
Ithaca, NY 14853
Telephone: (607) 253-3200; FAX: (607) 253-3198; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gifts & Bequests
Are you considering making a gift or bequest to the Cornell Feline Health Center? If so, the
following information will be helpful in your gift planning. Judicious planning of one's
charitable gifts is vital, given the fluid state of today's economy and the increased complexity
and scope of our nation's tax structure. Careful planning ensures that your gift will be put to the
best possible use and that the gift fits your financial needs and objectives.
The actual cost of a cash gift is less than the dollar amount of the gift because of the income-tax
charitable deduction. For example, a person in the 27% tax bracket can make a contribution of
$100 at an actual cost of only $73.
Many corporations offer a matching gift program so you can actually double or triple your gift to
the Center. Ask your employer for more details and for a matching gift form.
To encourage voluntary support to organizations, Congress has provided tax incentives for
charitable gifts. In effect, the U.S. government will share in the cost of the gift. The extent of the
tax benefit depends on the type of property and the form of the gift. From a tax standpoint, certain
types of gifts may be more advantageous than others. Consequently, carefully planning your gift
to secure the maximum benefit is an important step.
Appreciated Property: An alternative to a cash gift is giving long-term appreciated property.
Substantially greater tax benefits result because the tax on the unrealized appreciation is
Tangible Personal Property: A donor is entitled to a charitable deduction for gifts of long-term
capital-gain tangible personal property, such as artwork, rare books, etc.
Life Insurance: A gift of life insurance allows you to make a substantial gift on an installment
basis by making a series of modest payments during your lifetime. Also, depending on the
arrangement of your gift, life insurance can create a number of favorable tax consequences.
Trusts: To qualify for a favorable tax treatment, a charitable remainder trust is in the form of
either an annuity trust or unitrust. Each offers independent features that can be used effectively to
achieve financial and estate-planning objectives.
Bequests: Various types of bequests may be used by individuals to memorialize their
philanthropic interests. The choice of the specifics of making a gift in your will must depend on
each person's unique circumstances and personal and financial objectives. To provide a bequest
to the Center the following wording is suggested:
"I give, devise, and bequeath [description of property] to Cornell University, and educational
corporation situated in Ithaca, New York, for the exclusive benefit of the Cornell Feline Health
Center within the College of Veterinary Medicine."
*Be sure to consult with your attorney about the applicability of the legal principles to your own
Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery of items ordered. Credit card orders can be placed by
calling (607) 253-3414 or by fax (607) 253-3419. To order by mail send a check or money
order (US funds) for the total amount of the order, with a letter providing basic order
information (i.e., items ordered; size and color; quantity of each item ordered; your phone
number and mailing address) to: Cornell Feline Health Center, Purrfect Gifts, College of
Veterinary Medicine, Box #13, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401.
Tee-shirts - $16.99 (includes shipping, NY residents add 8% sales tax)-
These shirts feature two adorable cats and the Center's logo. They make great gifts and are
available in a variety of colors: purple, fuchsia, teal green, stonewashed blue, ash, and
Adult sizes: Small (34-36), Medium (38-40), Large (42-44), X-Large (46-48), and XX-Large
The Cornell Book of Cats - $35.00 (includes shipping, NY residents add 8% sales tax)-
The second edition of this popular cat care book is now available. This edition is completely
revised, providing the most current information on medicine, nutrition, reproduction, first aid,
genetics, cat breeds, and new diagnostic tests. The book is fully illustrated with photos,
drawings, charts, and color plates for the section on cat anatomy.
Honor Certificates - $25.00-
If you're looking for a special way to say "thank you" to your veterinarian, consider a
personalized parchment certificate. A personalized letter is sent with the certificate, stating your