Loyal Feline Friend Inspires Bequest

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Tom Jackson and his loyal feline companion Buttons were inseparable friends for 14 years. When chronic renal failure took Buttons' life last spring, Tom, an avid animal advocate, wanted to do something that would make a difference for other companion animals suffering from the same ailment. With this goal, Tom developed an estate plan that would not only memorialize his beloved best friend, but that would also propel innovative research to develop better treatments for chronic renal disease.

One of the leading causes of death in older cats, chronic renal disease is a progressive, irreversible deterioration of kidney function. Following Buttons' diagnosis, Tom learned everything he could about the disease in order to provide his friend, affectionately known as "Buttons duh Cat," with supportive care. Tom sought out others whose pets were experiencing the same disease, and he became involved with an online feline chronic renal failure organization. Tom was able to prolong Buttons' life and improve the quality of his days by using medical ideas from this supportive group. During this time, Tom learned about the CRF studies being conducted at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"CSU was mentioned so frequently that I decided to do some research," Tom said. "I was so impressed with the work CSU was doing in stem cell research that I knew this was where I wanted to distribute my assets. Seeing what CRF did to Buttons made me sure that I wanted to do all that I could to further research to develop better treatments for this terrible disease."

Though Tom, a Florida resident, had never visited Colorado State, he included the College in his estate plans to support research in feline CRF. The future is promising — the College's recent laboratory studies have shown that stem cell therapy has potential to improve kidney function and prevent scarring that forms in the kidneys as a result of the disease. With Tom's support through "The Buttons duh Cat Legacy Fund," research will continue to advance — a lasting tribute to a cat that so clearly demonstrated the strength of the human-animal bond.

Tom and his wife, Stacy, have now welcomed two new feline friends into their home. The couple agrees that Sabrina and Princess are great company and ease their grief, but that Buttons, the beautiful Maine Coon they adopted as an eight-week-old kitten, will always be missed.

Tom is pleased that he will be leaving a legacy for future cat owners who may face the challenges and heartbreak of feline CRF. He's confident that CSU will continue to do great work in this field and may one day find a cure.