Tests for genetic diseases in cats

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There are some genetic diseases, where it MUST be a normal procedure for a serious cat breeder to have his breeding cats tested. This is also a question of ethics, how seriously a breeder does take breeding and improvement of a certain cat breed.
Some genetic diseases are more likely in a specific cat breed, some are not.

This page will not give a theoretical lecture about the various test methods, that can be read much better in the section called "Literature".

Which tests for which cat breed?

This chapter lists the various diseases and test, which are available to give an overview.

click on the disease, to get a more detailed description    
Amyloidosis   Affected are mainly:
  • Abyssinian
  • Somali
Deafness in

White cats

BEAR test Affected can be all cat breeds and all white cats, where the white is based on the epistatic white (genetically spoken: white based on the gene W).
Deafness in

Bicoloured cats

BEAR test There could be affected all cat breeds and all Van-bicolored cats, where the Van-pattern is based on the Piebald spotting gene (homozygous for gene S).
GM1- & GM2-
Gangliosidoses
DNA-test available Affected are:
  • Korat
  • Siamese
  • European Shorthair
  • Domestic cats
HD
Hip dysplasia
X-ray Affected are all heavy cat breeds, which have a longer body to carry, such as:
  • Maine Coon
  • Norwegian Forest cats
  • also Exotic, British Shorthair and Persian
  • Siberian
HCM
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
rough test: stethoscope
detailed test: Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Echocardiogram (with Doppler)

DNA-test for Maine Coon and Ragdoll.

Affected are:
  • Maine Coon
  • Ragdoll
  • Sphynx
  • Devon Rex
  • Persian - Exotic
  • American Shorthair
  • British Shorthair
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siberian
  • Norwegian Forest
  • Turkish Van
Klein-Waardenburg syndrome   Deafness may affect all breeds and all odd-eyed white or extremely white spotted cats (Van-cats).
Patella luxation inspection by the vet, if necessary also X-ray Affected are mainly all heavy cat breeds, such as:
  • Exotic
  • British Shorthair
  • Maine Coon
  • Norwegian Forest cats
  • Persian
  • Siberian cats
PKD
Polycystic kidney disease
DNA-test available Affected are mainly:
  • Exotic
  • Persian
  • but also all breeds, which have Exotic or Persians in their pedigree, for example British Shorthair
  • American Curl, as in this breed still outcrosses with domestic cats of unknown origin are permitted.
    One of my American Curl was tested positive for PKD.
PRA
Progressive Retina Atrophy
inspection of the eyes with an  ophthalmoscope

by ERG (Electroretinogram)

by DNA-test for rdAC

 

Affected are mainly:
  • Abyssinian
  • Somali
  • Persians, Exotics
Strabism inspection by the vet Affected are all cat breeds, which may have a Siamese-pattern:
  • Himalayan, Colourpoint Longhair and Shorthair
  • Ragdoll
  • Birman
  • Neva Masqerade
  • Si-Rex
  • Siamese, Balinese
  • Snow Bengal
Degeneration or missing of the Tapetum lucidum inspection of the eyes with an ophthalmoscope Affected are all cat breeds and all white or extremely white spotted cats.
     

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Summary for breeding cats

In general:

  • If tests are available, breeders must take the chance to test their cat breed, especially when a specific cat breed is likely to inherit a certain genetic disease.
    Such tests must be part of a responsible breeding plan, which every breeder must have, to eliminate unwanted genetic diseases in cats.
  • Cat clubs must have a chapter about tests in their breeding rules, which are mandatory for their breeders and must take every step to improve breeds.
    Clubs call themselves "breeding" clubs, and as such they are responsible to take every measurement to eliminate genetic diseases from the various breeds.
  • Cats which are tested positive for a genetic disease - and even, if the cat is only strongly suspicious for inheriting a genetic disease - shall be neutered.
  • Rules and laws, which are based only on prohibitions for breeding, are bad rules and bad laws.
    Such rules miss the most important aim to educate responsible cat breeders and to get the breeders to breed for healthy cats.

 

click on the disease, to get a more detailed description  
Amyloidosis in cats
  • As this disease is very difficult to detect, it shall be considered not to breed with such lines, where frequently Amyloidosis had been detected.
Deafness in White cats
  • Deaf cats have to be neutered and shall not be used for breeding, and all their offspring have to be tested.
  • White cats shall only be bred to coloured cats.
Deafness in Bicoloured cats
  • Deaf cats have to be neutered and shall not be used for breeding, and all their offspring have to be tested.
GM1- & GM2-
Gangliosidose in cats
  • Breeding with carriers shall not be permitted. Carriers shall be neutered.
  • It might be taken into account that health is more important than the colour Blue in Korats.
  • It might be also taken into account to get imports from Thailand.
HD
Hip dysplasie in cats
  • Cats which are diagnosed with HD1 or more, shall be neutered and not used for breeding.
  • Cats which are diagnosed with HD or are suspicious for it shall be breed with great caution and their offspring shall be also examined.
HCM
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats
  • If a cat is suspected to have HCM, it shall be neutered.
  • The number of animals is still large enough, so there is no necessity to breed with such cats to increase the gene pool.
Klein-Waardenburg syndrome in cats
  • Deaf cats have to be neutered and shall not be used for breeding, in no case. If it can be avoided, only very few litters shall be produced with such cats.
  • Males shall not be used as studs for other breeders' cats.
Patella luxation in cats
  • Cats where patella luxation has been diagnosed, shall be used with great caution for breeding. And if avoidable, only very few matings shall be made.
  • Males shall not be used as stud males for other breeders.
PKD
Polycystic kidney disease in cats
  • Cats which are tested positive must be neutered and shall not be used for breeding.
PRA
Progressive Retina Atrophy in cats
  • Periodic tests are necessary for those types of PRA, where no DNA-test is available. Thus, animals used for breeding shall be tested at least every 2nd year.
  • All animals used for breeding shall undergo the ophtalmologic test periodically.
  • For rdAC is now a DNA-test available.
  • Cats tested positive for PRA shall not be used for breeding and shall be neutered.
Strabism in cats
  • Cats, which have strabismus, shall be neutered and not be used for further breeding.
   

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Literature about genetic diseases in cats

See the specific section for each disease, click on the disease (in the left column of the tables above) to get a more detailed description and a literature list.
Please be aware, that most articles in English.

 
 

 
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