HCM and SPHYNX… Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a condition that causes the muscular walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s efficiency. Although the cause of HCM has not been clearly identified, the fact that the condition is more prevalent in certain breeds (including Maine Coon, Ragdoll, British Shorthair, Sphynx, Chartreux and Persian cats) and that mutations of several cardiac (heart) genes have been identified in some cats with this disease suggests that genetics plays a role in some of the instances. While the disease’s effects and prognosis (predicted outcome) may vary considerably, proper diagnosis and treatment can decrease the chance that a cat with HCM will experience certain symptoms and can improve his or her quality of life.
So what is Nocoatkitty doing to prevent HCM in their linage?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about HCM in regards to the sphynx. We see people talking on social media groups blaming a specific breeder, a specific line etc, everyone thinks they are an expert. Here is the problem.. just because a line may produce an HCM kitten or 2 in its lifetime does not mean the line is polluted with HCM. So following lines is HUGE! I believe following lines is just as important as scanning. Though we scan every cat in the program every year, and most of our retired cats every 2 years, following lines is just as important because a lot of cats scan HCM negative but can still produce HCM kittens. Why is this? Most cats are breeding cats from the age of 1-4 yrs old then fixed. Sadly most cats that are going to develop HCM they do so after they are retired, so imagine all the babies produced from those lines to find out 4-6 years later the parent is HCM positive :-( But what makes it even MORE complicated is, not all HCM is genetic either. So without the DNA marker test like Mane Coons and Ragdolls have, us breeders have to rely solely on scanning and following lines. Its VERY important to have a good cardiologist working with us so we can make the best decisions for our cattery. We personally work with 3 amazing cardiologists who are available to us literally 24/7. They are also willing to speak with our new families if they ever have questions about the disease.
Nocoatkitty has been breeding sphynx for close to 16 years. 80% of our program has come from outcrossing and making our own lines. Sadly there is NO HCM FREE CATTERY. Though that is a wish we all have as breeders, its just not realistic. It comes down to how we deal with HCM when a situation arises in our catteries. At Nocoatkitty we have no problem removing a questionable cat from the breeding program, I started this cattery to better the breed and the last thing we want is a life cut short that we could have maybe prevented. Its also VERY VERY important to have close relationships with all of our families this way we can follow the health of their cat for years to come. If a breeder just sells cats and then loses communication with the buyer, how can they really follow the linage? So communication is key.
We are very active on social media, I started a Facebook page that discusses a lot of great sphynx topics including HCM. We can all learn a lot from each other. I think being open and honest and discussing topics like this is key to really improving our breed!