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Maine Coons and HCM

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have been looking for a Maine Coon cat for quite some time. I am working with a breeder here who has been very helpful. She is very concerned with HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) in the Maine Coon breed. Because she has no cats available to me at this time I have been looking elsewhere and giving her the pedigrees to look over. She has on several occasions told me not to buy because of this HCM being strongly observed in the ancestors of the cats being offered. I questioned the general healthiness of the breed and her response was that Maine Coons are no more likely to have HCM than any other breed. I've searched for statistics to support this and can't find any.

So my question is this: Are Maine Coon cats statistically more prone to develop HCM than other breeds? Sources?

I have recently put a deposit on a Maine Coon kitten and was called by the breeder who told me the cats Sire just died. OK one day, dead the next. The breeder is very upset understandably, and has sent the cat for an autopsy. I wanted to request the results but felt it inappropriate to ask at the time. I'm guessing the cat died from this HCM. Y'know, I want a HEALTHY, big, laid back, friendly cat like a Maine Coon, but they seem to be a sort of sickly breed of cat. I'm hoping I'm wrong and you can help me with that.
post #2 of 10
Someone else should be able to answer about HCM.

With regards to asking the breeder for the results, you definitely should, and don't feel bad about it. Cats die from many things. The breeder is probably more concerned about a virus that the other cats in the cattery might have contracted, and it's more likely that was what happened. If so, the breeder might need to hold onto the kitten for a while until the cats are all healthy again. I'd contact her and ask that she just let you know when she gets the results in.

Most breeds have some particular disease that they are more likely to get. That's just what happens when the cats are not outcrossed, and one of the benefits to getting a non-pedigree cat. On the other hand, you know what the likely problem is, so if you can get a cat with a healthy pedigree, you'll have a healthy cat. Sounds like you've got a good breeder helping you, so you might just ask her what she thinks about the situation.
post #3 of 10
HCM isn't well investigated in many breeds. We know a lot about HCM because Dr. Kittleson researched HCM in Maine Coons (but he could have chosen Ragdolls, Persians or another breed). HCM occurs in many breeds (and domestic shorthairs/longhairs). Sometimes it's hereditary, sometimes not. There are likely many different mutations that can cause HCM and they might be inherited in different ways.

The Maine Coon is one of few breeds where breeders actuarally scan regulary for HCM and have done so for probably a longer time than in any other breed so chances are that you will get a healthy Maine Coon kitten if you buy from a reputable breeder that breed "free scanned lines" (there's no such thing as definately testing free from HCM). Don't focus on the HCM only though because there are other diseases out there, just as bad.

If there is any statistics about HCM in all the different breeds I'd like to see it but I doubt there's enough test material to build up any reliable statistics in any other breed than the Maine Coon. We've (a few breeders) just started scanning Devon Rexes for HCM in Sweden and so far even though more and more of us are scanning we don't have enough material to make any reliable statistics about it.
post #4 of 10
Sudden death is common with HCM. So I wouldn't rule this out and would request the cause of death of the Sire before agreeing to a kitten. I would also ask if the Sire had been scanned for HCM in the past and what the results were.

If you are dealing with a responsible breeder then your chances of getting a kitten prone to die from HCM is NO more likely than with any other breed/breeder. Most MC breeders are going to do all they can to breed out these problems. At least the ones we know do.

As a Ragdoll breeder we are very concerned about HCM. All our cats have been DNA tested for both the Ragdoll and Maine Coon mutations. We do ECG scan annually. We will only breed normal/normal cats.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Both parents have been screened for the markers and both have been checked before breeding for the disease by a cardiologist. All negative.

I'll call the breeder tomorrow and see what's up.

Anyone know how long it takes for a cat autopsy? I don't want to bother her till I'm reasonably sure she has the results, and I would like to give her a little more grief time before I speak with her about what killed her cat...

So, what would you do if you have sent a deposit for a kitten then found out the cats father died of HCM?
post #6 of 10
Isn't Maine Coons one of the breeds they can now test to see if cats carry HCM? I believe Ragdolls are the other breed they can test for.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yes, Maine Coons and Ragdolls are currently the two types of cat for which a DNA marker has been identified for HCM.

The breeder that I've been working with is out of town, not checking her emails remotely, and unreachable by me till I don't know when. I've been sending her emails for several days and all have been returned saying her mailbox is full. I'm not sure when she'll be back. So, I'm counting on you kind and knowledgeable people to let me know soon if I should continue with this purchase.

I've sent my Deposit money. That may or may not be refundable. Because it's summer the carriers will not allow the cat to be shipped so I have to fly out to get the little guy. The cat was born on May 11 and ready to go right now. I can only delay so long before I purchase the airline ticket. These types of tickets are typically non-refundable. Once I make that monetary commitment I will have, in my mind, went "beyond the point of no return" and will complete the transaction.

I don't want to make a mistake here. A cool G will have been spent and a cats lifetime of commitment will also have been made.

I need professional help. ...My ex-wife used to say that too!
post #8 of 10
With the sudden death of the Sire, I would be surprised if the Deposit was NOT refundable. I would find out the cause of death and go from there.
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by kitytize View Post
Isn't Maine Coons one of the breeds they can now test to see if cats carry HCM? I believe Ragdolls are the other breed they can test for.
The problem is that you can only test for one gene and HCM may be caused by many different genes. Not all cats that have the gene develop HCM and cats without it still develop HCM. The DNA test is a complement to the scanning.
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by Sol View Post
The problem is that you can only test for one gene and HCM may be caused by many different genes. Not all cats that have the gene develop HCM and cats without it still develop HCM. The DNA test is a complement to the scanning.
Yes, breeders of Ragdolls and MC's should note that the DNA test is only another tool to be used along with annual scanning. In humans there are over 200 genetic mutations of HCM, they have found one in RD's, and is it 1 or 2 now in MC's?? None the less, as breeders we can only use these tools given as a guide, as there are "most likely" more genetic markers for HCM. More research is ongoing, as well as more ongoing funding for the research.

I don't believe there have been any statistics that show Ragdolls or MC's are more likely to get the disease, I believe the MC's and RD's got more in the spotlight due to the research and findings.

I agree with Mark, find out why the Sire passed, and go from there. I can't imagine the breeder NOT refunding the deposit, if it was a serious health issue that may affect your kitten. I wish you the best.
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