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Genetic health testing

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I know in dogs that reputable breeders test for genetic diseases like hip dysplasia, von Willebrands, PRA, etc. The tests done vary from breed to breed. On a dog forum I belong to, it's stressed over and over that a reputable breeder has titled (show, field, working, etc.) breeding stock and tests for genetic problems in their breed.

Do purebred cat breeders test for genetic diseases? I know some Bengal breeders are testing for HCM.

To our purebred breeders - are there problems in your breed that are tested for? Do you test yearly?

Is genetic testing as important in defining a reputable breeder in cats as it is in dogs?
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KittiesHasMe View Post
I know in dogs that reputable breeders test for genetic diseases like hip dysplasia, von Willebrands, PRA, etc. The tests done vary from breed to breed. On a dog forum I belong to, it's stressed over and over that a reputable breeder has titled (show, field, working, etc.) breeding stock and tests for genetic problems in their breed.

Do purebred cat breeders test for genetic diseases? I know some Bengal breeders are testing for HCM.

To our purebred breeders - are there problems in your breed that are tested for? Do you test yearly?

Is genetic testing as important in defining a reputable breeder in cats as it is in dogs?
The answer to ALL your questions is YES! Except for the yearly part - I generally test ONCE unless I hear rumours that the testing could have been faulty then I would test again.

Some cat breeds have more issues than others and as a reputable and ethical breeder, we are duty bound to test anyway!
post #3 of 25
I also genetically test my cats and have x-rays done on my breeding cats to screen for hip dysplasia.

HCM screenings should be done on cats no less than 2 years of age and only on cats that are suspected to have a problem. An HCM screening only tells you if a cat has a problem AT THAT POINT IN TIME and it does not rule out the development of a problem later on in the cat's life. HCM is an issue in some lines in my breed, but has not proven to be a problem in my own lines.

My vets will not screen my cats for HCM, because they feel it is a waste of my time and their resources unless they actually suspect a potential problem.
post #4 of 25
Yes - in some breeds their are more problems then other. I know that Maine Coons, Persians, Devon Rexes are a few that test for certain problems that have come up in the breed.

Most all reputable breeders will test for FELV in their breeding cats.
post #5 of 25
Yes I will be testing my breeding cats. In my breed we test for PK Deficiency. I also test all my cats for Leukemia. I am also planning on doing blood typing.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for replying. This is what I thought but I wanted a thread emphasizing this for all those people suddenly wanting to breed cats. A reputable breeder - shows and health tests their breeding stock.

It also lets the people looking to buy a purebred kitten/cat know that they need to ask questions about genetic health when talking to breeders.
post #7 of 25
HCM screening or ultrasounds should be done on all breeds of cats, on an annual basis or at least every other year. All cat breeds, including mixed breeds can have HCM. It may not show up on the first ultrasound, and show up later on in the cats life. I also believe it should be done before a cat is first bred, as I do know cats that have developed HCM before a year of age, while this may be rare, it does happen.
There are certain breeds that have more information for HCM, Maine Coons and Ragdolls are the main 2 right now, but I believe research has begun in other breeds from Dr. K. Meurs at WSU.
I have Ragdolls, and for a little over a year now, we have had a DNA test that will test for the 2 main HCM mutations in our breed. Research has shown that these 2 genes are the main mutations in our breed.
Even though we have this DNA test, there is still a chance that a different, unknown mutation of HCM is there, and that is why using the ultrasound, having the results read by a board certified cardiologist is very important.
For cats that have Persian or Himi in the background, there is a DNA test for this breed. Not all DNA tests for certain breeds will be accurate for other breeds.
I believe blood typing is VERY important, but right now in the Ragdoll breed, there is no current test that can accurately tell us the blood type.
Pet buyers should not be shy about asking the breeder about genetic testing, and breeders should be open to discussing what tests they have done on their breeding cats.

Purrs,
Stormi
post #8 of 25
In the Netherlands Somali breeders test fiv/felv (obligatory for all breeds to get a pedigree) PKDef (by DNA) and PRA (by an ophthalmologist). There is a DNA test for PRA now so most breeders do that, but some still go to the ophthalmologist too.
A lot of breeders also test for PL, the breed club is actually working with veterinary orthopedic surgeons to develop a standardized PL testing protocol.
There also is a lot of attention for Amyloidosis, when Aby/Somali cats die and it's suspected they might've had Amyloidosis they often get an autopsy at Utrecht university. (dr Gruys is studying the disease there)
HCM/PKD is rarely done with Somali's, although our country's most experienced breeder told me she did know about a certain line that had problems with HCM, but according to her that got nipped in the bud. (?)

Flynn and dEUS breeder tests her Birmans for HCM and PKD and she thought it logical to do the same with her Somali, I think Flynn is the only Dutch Somali with HCM/PKD tested mom.

The Dutch Birman breeders did only test for FIV/FeLV. But in the last years that has been changing, as I said dEUS' breeder tests for HCM/PKD. She tests by ultrasound by a veterinary cardiologist, at least before the first litter and after that following the cardiologist recommendations. Regular vets are not as skilled as a specialist in interpreting results and therefore their tests are less reliable.
Since the Persian was used as an outcross especially for tabby lines she also tests PKD-1 by DNA.
Other breeders were disdainful and saying she was overdoing it, until a kitten from a well known stud died of HCM (confirmed by autopsy). There had been a string of cats dying unexpectedly but no one had thought to do an autopsy before. (as soon as you know you'll have to actually acknowledge the problem, right ?) Now more and more Birman breeders are testing.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilytimeRags View Post
HCM screening or ultrasounds should be done on all breeds of cats, on an annual basis or at least every other year.
I have to respectfully disagree here. In an ideal world, perhaps we could screen our cats so often. I do not know how much an HCM screening runs in your areas, but I have been quoted between $200-350 per cat. If your program has 5 breeding cats at any given time, then you are talking between $1000-1750 annually to screen for a disease that might not even be present in your lines/breed. I'm not saying that breeders shouldn't screen at all, but please don't make blanket statements that might not fit all breeders.

My vet, who is also a breeder, cannot justify the expense of screening for something without any evidence that the disease might be a problem with my cats. I honestly don't know anyone in my breed who screens their cats so frequently.

However, I do test my cats annually for FIV/FeLV, which I feel is a more realistic risk for my own cats than HCM. I also do blood typing, because the majority of my breeding cats are blood type B. I x-ray and ultrasound my girls at every pregnancy and will run them to the vet at the slightest sign of trouble. The fact I don't screen for HCM annually does not mean I provide any less care for my cats.
post #10 of 25
I breed Devon Rex and I test for HCM. I don't scan yearly but often enough (according to my cardiologist). I won't pay $120 for each cat, every year, throughout their whole breeding career for a disease that might not even be a problem in the breed. The reason to why I scan at all is because I wanna help finding out if HCM is a problem or not. It leans to not being a problem.

At the moment the statistics says that appr. 5% of the Swedish Devon Rexes have HCM. That means that 95% of them don't. If every breeding cat is tested the total sum for testing the cats will end up at appr. $18000. That's a lot of money spent on finding maybe 8 potential breeding cats with HCM. That money would probably would do a lot more good in research on... FIP or yeast in Devon Rex, just to mention a few things.

Aside from that I have the patellas checked before I breed. Of course I have them checked for umbilical hernia and make sure that both testies are in place, but that's basic stuff.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by FerrisCat View Post
I have to respectfully disagree here. In an ideal world, perhaps we could screen our cats so often. I do not know how much an HCM screening runs in your areas, but I have been quoted between $200-350 per cat. If your program has 5 breeding cats at any given time, then you are talking between $1000-1750 annually to screen for a disease that might not even be present in your lines/breed. I'm not saying that breeders shouldn't screen at all, but please don't make blanket statements that might not fit all breeders.

My vet, who is also a breeder, cannot justify the expense of screening for something without any evidence that the disease might be a problem with my cats. I honestly don't know anyone in my breed who screens their cats so frequently.

However, I do test my cats annually for FIV/FeLV, which I feel is a more realistic risk for my own cats than HCM. I also do blood typing, because the majority of my breeding cats are blood type B. I x-ray and ultrasound my girls at every pregnancy and will run them to the vet at the slightest sign of trouble. The fact I don't screen for HCM annually does not mean I provide any less care for my cats.
Although I didn't mention Felv/Fiv testing, we do that as well, but I assumed this was a general test among breeders. I test every cat that is brought into my program. My cats are never allowed outdoors, so it isn't a big concern, but I feel it is my obligation as a breeder to use all the tools available to me, to ensure the health of my cats.

I can understand that there is expense there, but I have found that breeding is an expensive hobby. I don't see the need to disagree with continuous scanning, if that does save heartache for the breeder or the person or family adopting the kitten/cat. Sincerely and respectfully, I still feel that a breeder should have their cats tested on a regular basis.


I have a very good understanding of HCM, we do know it affects all breeds, so I would be leary of a breeder who scans once or twice and says all is fine with their lines. I know of too many issues of cats that never show symptoms, most likely a heterozygous positve parent, and is throwing kittens that show symptoms as young adults. They say that most that are DNA homozygous positive, have a very short life span. HCM is an autosomal dominant disease, only one parent has to carry the gene.

If you haven't had any HCM issues, that is wonderful, but it is a reality, and because one test can show a normal heart, only means there is no symptoms on that test date, and could change.


Here is a partial quote from an above sentence.
"to screen for a disease that might not even be present in your lines/breed."
HCM is not breed specific, it can be found in any breed, as well as moggies.

If you would like to know more about the research in our breed, you can see www.ragdollresearch.org.

So, I may be overcautious by some peoples views, but I feel better safe than sorry. I have been blessed that our breeding cats were normal/negative for the found HCM mutations. I still feel that even though we are negative for the most known mutations, we know that there are over 200 mutations of HCM in humans, so we realize there could still be another mutations, and scanning is just an extra tool to help breeders.

I believe there are many new breeds that WSU is active for HCM research, I don't know what breed you have, but DNA testing may be a future option.

I have recently heard of Maine Coon breeders testing for hip displaysia. Could someone please let me know what is involved during the test. I know OFA and Pennhip for dogs. This is something I am becoming more aware of, and would like to find out more.

Respectfully,
Stormi
post #12 of 25
I just wanted to add the link to WSU, it has some great information about the new breeds being researched. I don't believe this is a full list, as I heard Siberians were to be added, but I do not know that to be fact.
A lot of good informations on HCM throughout the site.

http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/deptsVCGL/ResearchFeline.aspx

Purrs,
Stormi
post #13 of 25
Actuarally, HCM can be recessive. Until very recent it was a universal truth that HCM is a dominant disease but recent Danish research show that at least HCM caused by the MyBPC3 gene in young Maine Coons is associated with a recessive path of inheritance.

HCM in Ragdolls is also suspected to be inherited in a recessive path.

When it comes to testing for HD in Maine Coons it's done just as it's done in dogs. The cat is sedated and X-rayed and the X-rays are sent to OFA (in Sweden most Maine Coon breeders follow the Pawpeds health program so their results are published at pawpeds.com).
post #14 of 25
HCM is not a disease that has just one cause originating with one gene mutation - just because you can get a DNA test for a cat of one breed for the presence of one gene does not mean that it will show up HCM in a different breed (or domestic) with a different gene causing it.

For most breeds at the moment, HCM tests involve listening to the heart, and an x-ray under sedation (which always carries a risk, even in a perfectly healthy cat) and are simply not feasible to do annually, or clinically advised, for most cats.

Cardiac problems are very widespread amongst all cats, HCM is just one particular aspect of that, but even that has more than one gene mutation involved - and DNA testing is not at the moment able to detect genetic markers for HCM in every cat that may possibly be affected, as not all the genetic markers are known.

If you have a breed that can have a DNA test to detect known HCM gene markers likely to show up in that breed, then that's great - but it isn't even scientifically possible for all cats to be definitively tested one way or the other. For those breeds where other currently untestable genetic causes of HCM exist, it is important to get a history of cats within their pedigree - whether they are still alive and doing well, or whether there have been any cases of sudden death from suspected heart problems.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
For most breeds at the moment, HCM tests involve listening to the heart, and an x-ray under sedation (which always carries a risk, even in a perfectly healthy cat) and are simply not feasible to do annually, or clinically advised, for most cats.
What about having a qualified veterinary radiologist/cardiologist do measurements on the heart by ultrasound ? That's how it's done where I live and cats do not have to be sedated as a rule, though some require light sedation.

It would also be a good thing if breeders would have autopsies done at a vet school when a breeding cat or former breeding cat dies of unknown causes.
You will not know anything unless you find a way to measure things. Be it by ultrasound, genetic test and/or autopsy.

About DNA testing; even though there might be more markers for a certain disease, certain markers are present in X % of cases, for example PKD-1 in 85% of cases. So that does not mean PKD-1 DNA testing is useless because it fails to predict 15 % of PKD cases, shouldn't breeders be very happy to be able to prevent 85 % ? And in order to work out how useful the HCM DNA tests are, people will have to do them on their cats, still screen their cats by echocardiography and actually be open and share their results.
When no one is testing these tests will have no chance to prove their worth.
Also a good way for a breeder to keep their head in the sand about problems in their breed, because once you start measuring you will find more than when you just make excuses and do nothing.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
For most breeds at the moment, HCM tests involve listening to the heart, and an x-ray under sedation (which always carries a risk, even in a perfectly healthy cat) and are simply not feasible to do annually, or clinically advised, for most cats.
Exactly. Even if I would it was worth the money with yearly testing I wouldn't test my current queen yearly since she has to be sedated when the vet does the ultrasound. I simply don't feel comfortable about sedating her on a yearly basis. This goes for many cats. A good percentage of the cats tested need to be sedated.
post #17 of 25
I think every breeder needs to decide for themselves what tests are applicable to their own breed.

The general consensus is that testing is necessary, though we all have our own opinions as to what tests are necessary and how often we should be doing them.

I have sent samples in from all of my cats to UC Davis--and not just for my own testing, but for their own future projects as well. I've gone to the vet on a split second notice to have blood drawn from cats that are not even of my own lines so that more genetic research can be done on our breed. It's not just about doing testing, but working with research institutions so that problems can be identified and even more tests can be developed.
post #18 of 25
This is the first I have ever heard about a cat being sedated for an ultrasound of the heart. I have had this done for over 6 years, with many cats, and sedation has never ever been mentioned.
I do agree, I wouldn't put my cats though a yearly sedation, that would be a risk I wouldn't take.

I should also mention that in the TICA SC region, we have a tech that scans all of the different cat breeds at the show, and then sends the scans off to be read by a board certified cardiologist. Again, the sedation is not something I would have ever thought would happen. We lay the cat on the table, and the scanner is placed over the top of the heart, and a hole is under the table, to place the scanner below, so he gets different views of the heart.

Is there other vets that you trust, that doesn't use sedation? Even the vet I called about years ago, for a price, which was $300 at the time, also didn't use a sedation. That is about as strange as a vet who wanted to put a cat under for a simple microchipping.


I thought Mimosa made a great point, having regular scanning allows for continuous measuring of the heart, to account for any changes. I also agree, about necropsy of a breeding cat, as well as the offspring. I have a 4 year genetic guarantee in my contracts, if a kitten/cat did pass, we do ask for a necropsy to be done. We do understand that it would be hard on a family of that loved pet, but it is so important for the breeder to know.

I also want to say regarding the DNA testing, for certain diseases, doesn't mean I can say I have an HCM free cattery, that would be false. I can only say my cats are found normal/negative for the current found mutations in MY breed. If your breed has a breed specific DNA test, then one should use it, I am not saying everyone should go and have their cats HCM DNA tested, as these found mutations are only applicable for the Ragdoll and Maine Coon breed. There is also a PKD test, but that isn't applicable to my Ragdolls, unless there is Persian/Himi in the background. There is place in TX, called www.catgenes.org that has many DNA tests for one price, however, not all tests will be accurate for all breeds. I used PKD as an example, even though my tests were negative, doesn't mean anything, except my cats do not carry that PKD marker, because I have no Persians in my line. As I said in a previous post there are over 200 found mutations of HCM in humans, so it would be assumed there are mutations that have not beed discovered in cats. That is why having my cats still scanned is so important. I still can't say I have an HCM free cattery, as I could always have a cat with an undiscovered mutation, but I can say I have done everything I can to ensure the health of my cats/kittens.

Right now, the places I know to get my cats blood typed, are saying now that the blood tests are not accurate for my breed. I don't know of a lab I can use that would be accurate, so I assume more research will be done, so that we can know for future breedings, what blood type we are working with.

Sincerely,
Stormi
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilytimeRags View Post
This is the first I have ever heard about a cat being sedated for an ultrasound of the heart. I have had this done for over 6 years, with many cats, and sedation has never ever been mentioned.
I do agree, I wouldn't put my cats though a yearly sedation, that would be a risk I wouldn't take.

Is there other vets that you trust, that doesn't use sedation? Even the vet I called about years ago, for a price, which was $300 at the time, also didn't use a sedation. That is about as strange as a vet who wanted to put a cat under for a simple microchipping.
There's nothing strange about sedating. Some cats simply won't be still long enough. I trust my cardiologist completely, he's one of Swedens leading canine and feline cardiologist. He prefers scanning without sedation but he will sedate if the cat won't be still. He doesn't charge extra for sedation. Maybe it depends on the breed. I breed Devon Rex and I've seen many Devon Rexes being scanned. I'd say that about 25% need to be sedated because they can't keep still. They wanna do everything else but being still. This is a very active and curious breed so when they come to the vet they usually wanna walk around and check it out.
post #20 of 25
Hi guys sorry to interrupt the flow of the conversation, but how do you guys find a board certified feline cardiologist? I'm just wondering is there a website that has a directory and list of all of them?

For reference, I live in Los Angeles, if that helps narrow it down.

Thank you
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by baelfire View Post
Hi guys sorry to interrupt the flow of the conversation, but how do you guys find a board certified feline cardiologist? I'm just wondering is there a website that has a directory and list of all of them?

For reference, I live in Los Angeles, if that helps narrow it down.

Thank you
Feline or Canine makes little difference.

Here you go:

http://www.americanboxerclub.org/boa...iologists.html
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the great information.

Could someone explain blood typing and why it's important? Does it vary from breed to breed?
post #23 of 25
Depending on your breed, it is essential to know your cat's blood type before breeding. This is due to the fact that a blood type B mother can develop antibodies against her blood type A kittens. These antibodies are present in the colostral milk and will kill the kittens when they nurse--so breeders must know if they are breeding a blood type B female to a blood type A male. This incompatibility is easily resolved by not allowing the kittens to nurse for the first 16 hours after birth--after this, the antibodies are no longer present in the colostral milk.

Blood type B is recessive and A is dominant. The vast majority of cats in the US domestic population are bloodtype A, though this is not the case throughout the rest of the world. Blood type AB is the most rare and a cat of that blood type is not the same as a cat who is blood type A and carries B.
post #24 of 25
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilytimeRags View Post
This is the first I have ever heard about a cat being sedated for an ultrasound of the heart. I have had this done for over 6 years, with many cats, and sedation has never ever been mentioned.
I do agree, I wouldn't put my cats though a yearly sedation, that would be a risk I wouldn't take.

I should also mention that in the TICA SC region, we have a tech that scans all of the different cat breeds at the show, and then sends the scans off to be read by a board certified cardiologist. Again, the sedation is not something I would have ever thought would happen. We lay the cat on the table, and the scanner is placed over the top of the heart, and a hole is under the table, to place the scanner below, so he gets different views of the heart.

Is there other vets that you trust, that doesn't use sedation? Even the vet I called about years ago, for a price, which was $300 at the time, also didn't use a sedation. That is about as strange as a vet who wanted to put a cat under for a simple microchipping.


I thought Mimosa made a great point, having regular scanning allows for continuous measuring of the heart, to account for any changes. I also agree, about necropsy of a breeding cat, as well as the offspring. I have a 4 year genetic guarantee in my contracts, if a kitten/cat did pass, we do ask for a necropsy to be done. We do understand that it would be hard on a family of that loved pet, but it is so important for the breeder to know.

I also want to say regarding the DNA testing, for certain diseases, doesn't mean I can say I have an HCM free cattery, that would be false. I can only say my cats are found normal/negative for the current found mutations in MY breed. If your breed has a breed specific DNA test, then one should use it, I am not saying everyone should go and have their cats HCM DNA tested, as these found mutations are only applicable for the Ragdoll and Maine Coon breed. There is also a PKD test, but that isn't applicable to my Ragdolls, unless there is Persian/Himi in the background. There is place in TX, called www.catgenes.org that has many DNA tests for one price, however, not all tests will be accurate for all breeds. I used PKD as an example, even though my tests were negative, doesn't mean anything, except my cats do not carry that PKD marker, because I have no Persians in my line. As I said in a previous post there are over 200 found mutations of HCM in humans, so it would be assumed there are mutations that have not beed discovered in cats. That is why having my cats still scanned is so important. I still can't say I have an HCM free cattery, as I could always have a cat with an undiscovered mutation, but I can say I have done everything I can to ensure the health of my cats/kittens.

Right now, the places I know to get my cats blood typed, are saying now that the blood tests are not accurate for my breed. I don't know of a lab I can use that would be accurate, so I assume more research will be done, so that we can know for future breedings, what blood type we are working with.

Sincerely,
Stormi

It's absolutely fantastic that you have access to these services! I wish it were the same for everyone, but unfortunately it's not.

What breed are you into? Because (I don't breed, but judging by my own cats and how they behave) I have Oriental Shorthairs and a Cornish Rex cross, and they are not going to stay still long enough for an ultrasound without sedation - this is not because they have bad temperament, in fact far from it they are wonderful (they are very very good cats - gentle and easy enought to handle even under stressful circumstances, they won't bite or scratch), but just due to their energy and high activity levels and very muscular physique, and the fact that if wriggling were an Olympic sport, they would get gold every time. I have described before that holding an Oriental can be like "holding onto a sack of eels", something which I know other families with Oriental or Rex cats and breeders will relate to!

Besides, in the UK, we do not have these services on tap and readily available, and they are hugely expensive, our vet fees are much higher than in the US. Doing an annual test on a cat that has never had any problems, where there are no problems in any of the cats in the pedigree, and where no offspring have ever had any problems, is just not feasible.

Yes of course investigations and necroscopy should absolutely be done in the case of sudden fatality, but I don't view annual testing as being necessary where there is absolutely no history, or even any suggestion of a history, of HCM in lines. We have plenty of breeding lines of Oriental (for example) with absolutely zero known problems with HCM or sudden fatality. Testing all breeding cats on an annual basis is not only clinically unnecessary, but overly stressful and not in the best clinical interest of the cats concerned.

Yes by all means if there are good grounds in the breed or the lines you are using to suspect there may be a genetic problem that can be tested for, then test for it. Absolutely. But if there has been no problem for 10 generations in your lines, if there is no DNA test for your breed, and if you have an active breed that may need sedation in order for useful, non-blurry, ultrasound scan to be done with the associated stress and risk that comes from that, then I don't deem it as necessary for every individual.
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