Feline oral cancer is the focus of a new study


Funded by Blue Buffalo and Pet Valu, researchers with the Morris Animal Foundation will investigate squamous cell carcinoma in cats

A new study on feline oral squamous cell carcinoma is being led by Morris Animal Foundation with support from pet food suppliers Blue Buffalo and Pet Valu. The research team, led by Michelle Oblak, DVM, DVSc, DACVS, ACVS fellow of surgical oncology, at Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada, will explore the use of porphysome nanotechnology combined with light therapy to treat oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats.1

"Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a devastating disease in cats with limited treatment options," said Oblak, in an organizational release. "This study has the potential to unlock a new nonsurgical option for cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma. With the support of Morris Animal Foundation, we are excited to investigate this novel nanotherapy, and hope we can improve the quality of life and outcomes for these cats."

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral cancer in cats, accounting for roughly 8% to 10% of all cancers diagnosed, according to the foundation. The cancer spreads locally and embeds deeply into the oral tissue. The tumors make eating and drinking difficult and very painful, and complete surgical removal is rare. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments provide only temporary relief and can have significant side effects. The average survival time is a dismal three months for cats diagnosed with this cancer.

“I cannot stress how desperately new treatments are needed for this terrible cancer,” said Kathy Tietje, PhD, MBA, vice president of scientific operations, Morris Animal Foundation, in the release. "If successful, this new treatment could have a major impact on the lives of hundreds of cats diagnosed with this aggressive tumor each year."

Cancer impacts animals worldwide and is a leading cause of death in senior cats. Since 1962, Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 300 cancer studies, invested nearly $40 million, and continues to make strides against the disease, aided by supporting organizations.“We are very grateful for the funding Blue Buffalo and Pet Valu are providing to make this important study possible,” noted Tietje.


  1. Newly funded cat study to focus on deadly oral cancer. News release. Morris Animal Foundation. March 9, 2023. Accessed March 9, 2023. https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/article/feline-blue%20buffalo-oral-cancer-study
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