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HCM in Cats

Discussion in 'Savannah Cat Health' started by Trish Allearz, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Trish Allearz

    Trish Allearz Moderator

    While the Savannah breed isn't known for HCM, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (aka HCM) is the most common cardiac disease in cats. HCM is, however, prevalent in many purebreds- from Maine Coons to Bengals to Sphynxes. Some breeds have worked hard to develop DNA tests for HCM, but unfortunately, the tests do not catch every strain of the disease. Annual HCM scans may be the best way to detect/watch out for this devastating disease.

    More info can be found:

  2. admin

    admin Paige Staff Member

    Thanks, Trish. I actually had Zuri tested for HCM, since I will be breeding her. I know it is not a necessity for savannah cats, especially, and is more prevalent in other breeds, but I wanted to try to be proactive :)And i also realize, I will have to have her tested again every couple of years.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Kiangagirl

    Kiangagirl Savannah Super Cat

    Hi Trish; Hopefully there will someday be more effective testing for this syndrome but in the meantime I think the most important thing we can do is test for it and be vigilant. If I can get on my soapbox here---I raised and showed Bengals for several years before a divorce forced me to stop. I think Bengals are absolutely beautiful but the health problems I saw were appalling. Unfortunately a lot of those health problems are directly attributable to inbreeding. I know this is a touchy subject but I for one refuse to inbreed or "line-breed" because in my mind the damage done to the breed outweighs any benefits in the long run. I sincerely hope that, with this beautiful new breed, we as breeders will prevent a lot of those health problems and not ruin this wonderful breed by inbreeding.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  4. Trixapotamus


    I had a female die two years ago of HCM and microcardia, as confirmed by medical necropsy. I had zero warnings. She was active, healthy, happy, and only five years old. She had one litter of seven kittens, three years prior to her untimely demise. She was not in-bred and was an exceptional F4 silver female out of a Egyptian Mau line. Unusually loving one spring morning and lying dead on the floor of my bedroom that evening. She was a breeder I got as an adult, I also had her son as a kitten. I am so happy I did not breed her myself. I hope her son does not have HCM. I am going to have him scanned very soon.

    I urge all breeders to scan for HCM. That is the only way to reduce the occurrence in the breed, if it is indeed genetic. The fact that it is more prevalent in purebreds than mixed breeds strongly suggests it is genetic. Finding her in my bedroom was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, second only to seeing my grandmother die of leukemia.

    I think the data is too new to see if the Savannahs have a distinctive predisposition to HCM, but I expect to see that connection made in the next few years and the next several generations of Savannahs. The Bengal breed has been linked to HCM. Savannahs are a little newer than the Bengals and a little less main-stream. To me, I believe that there are less generations of Savannahs, so there has been less mixing of the same isolated gene pool of the available breeders. As the gene pool continues to mix, I believe we will see a higher occurrence of HCM and other cardiac illnesses. I also acknowledge the role microcardia had in her death. She had little hope with the compounded problems, even if there would have been a sign to bring her to the vet before it happened.

    Do not discount the number of deaths that go undiagnosed. The average pet owner is not going to spend the $120.00 to have a necropsy done. I'm need even sure if the average vet will offer to do one. I told my vet that I need to know what happened. If it was a poison, I need to know. I have 6 other animals in my house. I just needed to know what happened. It was the best $120.00 I could have spent though. I received so much closure knowing that there was little I could have done.
    • Like Like x 3
  5. WitchyWoman

    WitchyWoman Admin Staff Member

  6. Trixapotamus


    I really wish I would have know more about HCM and the link to pedigrees when she died. I would have provided DNA. I feel like it is such a waste that we did not to get to learn anything from her death.
  7. ALizzlyBear

    ALizzlyBear Savannah Super Cat

    Thank you for posting this, my beautiful F2 kitten just died.. he did not die directly from HCM but in the days leading up to his death he was diagnosed by multiple separate veterinarians as having chronic HCM. He was only 6 months old. The breeder is strongly stating that she has proven the parents do not have HCM via the genetic tests but my understanding is that they are still finding genetic variants that cause it and so a negative result for, let's say the Maine Coon variant, does not mean the cat does not carry an HCM gene.

    He had a second fatal disease that my vets believe was auto-immune and another symptom that was quite severe that may be connected to the HCM (collapsed lung/infection) and may be related to the initiation of the autoimmune response.

    I am not sure how to proceed with the breeder. I am trying to be careful with what I type here because I do not want to hurt her reputation since I don't believe she knew about this but I also do not want anyone else to go through this and now I've lost 5k for the cat and 10k for his end-of-life medical care. I really need some help in how to proceed with this situation.. it is very hard when I am grieving at the same time!! Do you know of any resources or have recommendations on how to proceed?

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks guys, I'm so glad this chat is here.
  8. admin

    admin Paige Staff Member

    Wow, I'm so sorry for your loss...it must be so difficult to put this into writing as you are grieving...

    Not sure who the breeder is or why she is arguing against your veterinary diagnosis...is the breeder going to replace your kitten? I hate even asking that question :(
  9. DChap

    DChap Site Supporter

    So sorry for your loss :(
  10. Patti

    Patti Admin Staff Member

    The thing about HCM is that it can be 'brewing' for years and never show up, so even if the parents tested negative that is no guarantee that they do not carry the gene or that they didn't pass it on to their kittens. BTW, as far as I know, there is no genetic test for HCM in Savannahs, only in Maine Coons and Ragdolls, possibly Bengals but not sure that is currently available. The only way to test for HCM in other breeds is to obtain yearly echos (heart ultrasounds) since cats can carry the gene for years and only have the disease manifest itself later in life.

    However, it sounds from what you've written that the kitten didn't actually die from HCM but from something else. What is the auto-immune disease that your vet believes led to her demise?
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