Pouncing Paws Bengals
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Why Genetic Testing is Important

What is HCM and why should my breeder test their breeding cats for it?

HCM is short for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This is the most common diagnosed heart disease in cats.  It causes the left ventricle (pump muscle) of the cat's heart to thicken.  This causes the heart's efficiency to decrease and can also cause other symptoms in other parts of the cat's body.  It is very often fatal and can lead to sudden death.

Breeding cats should be tested PRIOR to breeding the first time and then no less than every two years afterward.  Every year is preferred.

This ongoing HCM screening allows the breeder to establish a heart health history so if the cardiologist detects any changes in follow up screenings, it is easily tracked over time to determine if there is any reason for concern.

Any cats diagnosed with HCM during a screening should be removed from the breeder's breeding program in an attempt to reduce the possibility of passing this on to their offspring.

A diagnosis of Equivocal should be monitored closely.  It is recommended any cat that tests Equivocal not be used for breeding until it scans clear, to avoid the unnecessary possibility of passing bad heart genes to the cat's offspring.

Although there is no guarantee a kitten will not develop HCM in its lifetime, this is NO EXCUSE not to scan all breeding cats.  Establishing a heart health history in breeding lines helps minimize the occurrence of HCM over time.

There is no reason to choose a kitten from a cattery that does not do this testing.  There are so many breeders who do that there is no reason to risk the heart health of your kittens by selecting it from a breeder who doesn't.

What is PK-def and why should my breeder test for it?

PK-def is short for PK Deficiency (Erythrocyte Private Kinase Deficiency).  This is a genetic (inherited) hemolytic anemia which causes instability and loss of red blood cells in the Bengal breed.  Symptoms can include, weakness, weight loss, jaundice, lethargy and enlarged abdomen.  This can be a life-threatening disease.

Breeders should test for this disease to prevent kittens from being born with it. For kittens to be born with PK-def, both parents have to carry this gene and pass it to the kitten at the time of conception. 

The only way to prevent this disease from being passed to kittens is for the breeder to know which of their cats carry the disease so planned breedings avoid mating two cats together that both carry the gene. 

NOTE:  It's OK for a cat to carry this gene.  It is NOT OK for the breeder not to know and breed two cats together that both carry the gene.

What is PRA-b and why should my breeder test for it?

PRA-b is short for Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  This disease is specific to the Bengal breed.  It causes loss of photoreceptors in the eye and results in blindness.  Kittens show signs between 8 and 20 weeks of age.  The disease continues to progress and most kittens are completely blind by 1 year of age.

Like PK-def, breeders should test for this disease to prevent kittens from being born with it.  For kittens to be born with PRA-b, both parents have to carry this gene and pass it to the kitten at the time of conception. 

The only way to prevent this disease from being passed to kittens is for the breeder to know which of their cats carry the disease so planned breedings avoid mating two cats together that both carry the gene. 

NOTE:  It's OK for a cat to carry this gene.  It is NOT OK for the breeder not to know and breed two cats together that both carry the gene.