Savannah Cat Chat - THE Place for Savannah Cat Talk

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Saddle Thrombus


Savannah Super Cat
Hello all,

Just a quick question for you—is Saddle Thrombus (FATE or Feline Aortic Thromboembolism) a large issue in Savannah cats?

Our last baby was a Ragdoll/Burman type cat, and unfortunately we lost him a few months ago to Saddle Thrombus... he wasn't even 3 years old. It was a terrifying way for him to go (for all three of us). If you are unfamiliar with Saddle Thrombus (as we were) it is when the heart throws a clot which gets stuck in the connection of the two main arteries to the back legs, causing paralysis and extreme (and I mean EXTREME) pain. It happens in a matter of moments... For us he was running around begging for food as normal while we made breakfast and then all of a sudden he was gone but we could hear him meowing crazily and loudly (and he never talked, ever) and he was at the bottom of the stairs, wide eyed and panicking and hyperventilating, and then dragged himself up the stairs with his front paws and dropped in front of us and it was just the worst thing in the world. We rushed him into the vet and she said there wasn't a thing we could do it was already too late...

We are really worried that (as a large breed of cat where these types of heart problems are prevalent) this might be an issue for Savannah cats. Any input?

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
I agree, it's an awful thing to see happen and to have happen to your cat :-(

I'm sure you know that mostly saddle thrombus occurs because of underlying heart disease. I had a Savannah with a mitral valve defect and for the miraculous 10+ bonus years we got with him I was always worried that this would happen.

It is NOT true that heart disease is more prevalent in Savannahs than just the normal cat population. HCM occurs in random bred cats as apparently your last baby was (you said "type cat" which indicated to me that it wasn't a pedigreed cat)... and so it can happen but is not more likely to happen to a Savannah imho.

I would suggest though that you ask any breeder you are considering if they screen for HCM... personally I do and now have F5s that have had their mom, grandma and greatgrandma screened as well as the studs used with them along the line. It's not perfect, ultrasounds don't guarantee that cat won't develop symptoms later in life, but it's the best we have.

Additionally, consider the outcrosses that may be in the cats' background of the breeder you choose. Bengals and Maine Coons are breeds that have some lines that genetically carry HCM so screening would be even more important if that is in their backgrounds (although almost every Savannah out there has some Bengal behind it, some have more than others).


Staff member
A saddle embolus is a condition that is caused when the heart doesn't function normally so the blood becomes turbulent so that it doesn't pump efficiently through the chambers and can form blood clots. These blood clots can then shoot off and lodge in an artery as you describe above. Heart conditions are not common in Savannahs, and saddle emboli are much less common than the heart issues that can cause them. Of course, it only takes one clot in one's lifetime for it to be the end, as your poor baby experienced :cry: