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The unrecognized potential of pet cats for studying aging and age-related diseases
Old cats develop chronic diseases similar to diseases in older people. One-fourth of American households own cats, and almost half are more than 7 years old. Cats share the same environment and are exposed to many of the same chemical stresses. In addition, genomic diversity and population stratification are similar to that occurring in people. With these comparative features, the aging cat represents a geroscience model to investigate the pathogenesis and therapeutic interventions for aging. However, cats are generally not recognized as a translational model for aging research mainly because of the lack of knowledge and appreciation within the scientific community. In addition, cat owners are not aware of any research programs designed to enhance healthy aging in their pets because none exist. Much work is needed to inform and educate the scientific community as well as cat owners about the power of aging cats as a transformative model to investigate aging and age-related diseases that will benefit both human and feline health.
Keywords: Aging cats, age-related diseases, healthy aging, geroscience