about our problems is the only way to solve them!
This is a list of information on problems that occur
within the Bengal breed (and other cat breeds). Please remember that
even the best, most knowledgeable breeders have diseases and illness that
pop up in their lines, please do not shove off a breeder that admits to
having problems. Good ethical breeders will inform you of the things they
have experienced, and hopefully educate you.
HCM is an abbreviation for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a genetic
(and therefore inheritable) heart muscle disease. Humans, cats, and other
types of animals can and are affected by HCM. HCM is the most common heart
disease of animals in the cat genus, be they wild non-domestic species,
purebred domestic cats or crossbred (non-purebred “alley”) cats. HCM is
often progressive and can result in heart failure and death.
causes HCM in cats?
In general, heart muscle enlargement (hypertrophy) can be caused by
various causes, such as high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism. However,
HCM is definied as primary disease. Cats are diagonsed as having HCM
therefore, only after secondary causes of hypertrophy are ruled out.
feline HCM genetic?
Yes. It is almost sure to be an autosomal dominant inherited trait
(as in human HCM). The gene-mutation(s) responsible for HCM vary between
cat breeds. Therefore, while a genetic marker may be discovered in one cat
breed, the same gene may not be responsible for HCM in another breed. To
date, one gene mutation has been discovered for the Maine Coon (in 2005) and
another for the Ragdoll (in 2007). In the future, it is expected that other
mutations will be discovered in other cat breeds. This research, however,
is expensive. A genetic marker for HCM in the Bengal has not yet been
HCM have a nutritional cause?
According to all current evidence, it is not possible that HCM can be
caused by nutrition in either cats or humans.
Genetic screening is available for the Maine Coon and Ragdoll cat.
For other breeds, including the Bengal, an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound)
carried out by a certified veterinary cardiologist or radiologist is the
only reliable method used to detect cats with moderate to severe HCM. Other
diagnostic tools such as x-rays (used to detect heart failure from a variety
of causes), electrocardiograms (to detect abnormal heart rhythms), as well
as blood pressure readings and blood tests to measure thyroid function (to
rule out secondary causes of hypertrophy) are also useful to understand
feline heart diseases.
my Bengal cat(s) be tested for HCM?
If you own a Bengal who has been identified by your veterinarian as
having a heart murmur, an echocardiogram would certainly be a logical
Bengal breeders should, AT THE LEAST, have their breeding cats auscultated
(examined by a vet with a stethoscope) yearly. Any cat with an abnormality
should be tested by echocardiogram. A much better choice for breeders
(although expensive for many) would be having their breeding stock examined
by echocardiogram on a yearly basis, as HCM can occur at any age and one
echocardiogram can not guarantee that a cat will not develop HCM at a later
what age should I begin screening my Bengal cat breeder by echocardiogram
for heart abnormalities?
Guidelines have not been established for when the Bengal breed should
begin to be tested. The wisest may be to begin testing breeding adults at
the age of 2 years.
should a breeder do if a cat in the breeding program is diagnosed with HCM?
It should be removed from the breeding program (statistically at
least 50% of it’s offspring would be expected to have HCM). Owners of cats
related to a cat with known HCM should be notified, so that they may be
breeding program guarantee being “HCM-free”?
No breeding programs can guarantee that HCM will not develop
someday in it’s breeding animals, or in kittens the breeding program
produces. Any breeder who would state this is either
insufficiently educated about HCM, or dishonest. (To illustrate why this
is… A person may say, “My doctor checked me, my test results came back, I
don’t have cancer.”, but unfortunately that does not guarantee that the
person will NEVER get cancer. Likewise, it certainly does not guarantee
that the person’s offspring will not develop cancer.)
However, a breeder CAN arrange that all it’s current breeding stock is
carefully checked by a local vet for observable heart defects by stethoscope
for suspicious symptoms. Additionally, a breeder may choose to have it’s
active breeding stock screened on a regular basis by echocardiograms
conducted by a certified veterinary cardiologist or radiologist. The
breeder may elect to make these official results publically available online
or by private request.
What is FIP?
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease of cats caused
by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus. Most strains of
feline coronavirus are avirulent, which means that they do not cause
disease, and are referred to as feline enteric coronavirus. Cats infected
with a feline coronavirus generally do not show any symptoms during the
initial viral infection, and an immune response occurs with the development
of antiviral antibodies. In a small percent of infected cats (5 to 10
percent), either by a mutation of the virus or by an aberration of the
immune response, the infection progresses into clinical FIP. The virus is
then referred to as feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). With the
assistance of the antibodies that are supposed to protect the cat, white
blood cells are infected with virus, and these cells then transport the
virus throughout the cat's body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs
around vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in
the abdomen, kidney, or brain. It is this interaction between the body's own
immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease. Once a cat
develops clinical FIP involving one or many systems of the cat's body, the
disease is progressive and is almost always fatal. The way clinical FIP
develops as an immune-mediated disease is unique, unlike any other viral
disease of animals or humans.
Is my cat at risk for developing FIP?
Any cat that carries any coronavirus is potentially at risk for
developing FIP. However, cats with weak immune systems are most likely to
develop the disease, including kittens, cats already infected with feline
leukemia virus (FeLV), and geriatric cats. Most cats that develop FIP are
under two years of age, but cats of any age may develop the disease.
FIP is not a highly contagious disease, since by the time the cat
develops clinical disease only a small amount of virus is being shed. Feline
coronavirus can be found in large quantities in the saliva and feces of cats
during the acute infection, and to a lesser extent in recovered or carrier
cats, so it can be transmitted through cat-to-cat contact and exposure to
feces. The virus can also live in the environment for several weeks. The
most common transmission of feline coronavirus occurs when infected female
cats pass along the virus to their kittens, usually when the kittens are
between five and eight weeks of age.
FIP is relatively uncommon in the general cat population. However, the
disease rate is much higher in multiple-cat populations, such as some
shelters and catteries. FIP has also been shown to be more common in certain
breeds, but the research is still unclear as to whether these breeds are
more susceptible because of their genetics or whether they are exposed to
feline coronavirus more often because many of them come from catteries.
What are the symptoms of FIP?
Cats that have been initially exposed to the feline coronavirus
usually show no obvious symptoms. Some cats may show mild upper respiratory
symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. Other cats may
experience a mild intestinal disease and show symptoms such as diarrhea.
Only a small percentage of cats that are exposed to the feline coronavirus
develop FIP-and this can occur weeks, months, or even years after initial
In cats that develop FIP, the symptoms can appear to be sudden since
cats have an amazing ability to mask disease until they are in a crisis
state. Once symptoms develop, often there is increasing severity over the
course of several weeks, ending in death. Generally, these cats first
develop nonspecific symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss,
depression, rough hair coat, and fever.
There are two major forms of FIP, an effusive, or "wet" form, and a
noneffusive, or "dry" form. Generally, cats will exhibit the signs of the
noneffusive form FIP more slowly than the effusive form. Symptoms generally
include chronic weight loss, depression, anemia, and a persistent fever that
does not respond to antibiotic therapy.
The effusive form of FIP is characterized by an accumulation of fluid
in the abdomen, or less commonly in the chest. Early in the disease, the cat
may exhibit similar symptoms to the dry form, including weight loss, fever,
loss of appetite, and lethargy. The wet form of the disease often progresses
rapidly, and the cat may quickly appear pot-bellied due to fluid
accumulation in the abdomen. When the fluid accumulation becomes excessive,
it may become difficult for the cat to breathe normally.
FIP can be difficult to diagnose because each cat can display
different symptoms that are similar to those of many other diseases.
Can my cat be tested for FIP?
One of the most difficult aspects of FIP is that there is no simple
diagnostic test. The ELISA, IFA, and virus-neutralization tests detect the
presence of corona virus antibodies in a cat, but these tests cannot
differentiate between the various strains of feline corona virus. A positive
result means only that the cat has had a prior exposure to corona virus, but
not necessarily one that causes FIP.
The number that is reported from these tests is called an antibody
titer. Low titers indicate a small amount of corona virus antibodies, while
high titers indicate much greater amounts of antibodies. A healthy cat with
a high titer, however, is not necessarily more likely to develop FIP or be a
carrier of an FIP-causing corona virus than a cat with a low titer. A cat
with a high titer is also not necessarily protected against developing FIP
in the future.
Other tests have been developed that can detect parts of the virus
itself. The immunoperoxidase test detects virus-infected cells in the
tissue, but a biopsy of affected tissue is necessary for evaluation. Another
antigen test uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect viral genetic
material in tissue or body fluid. Although this test shows promise, PCR is
presently only capable of detecting coronaviruses in general, not
necessarily those that cause FIP.
To date, there is no way to screen healthy cats for the risk of
developing FIP, and the only way to definitively diagnose FIP is by biopsy,
or examination of tissues at autopsy. Generally, veterinarians may rely on a
presumptive diagnosis, which can be made with a relatively high degree of
confidence by evaluation of the cat's history, presenting symptoms,
examination of fluid if it is present, and the results of supporting
laboratory tests including a positive coronavirus antibody titer.
Can FIP be treated?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure or effective treatment for FIP
at this time. Some treatments may induce short-term remissions in a small
percentage of cats; however, FIP is a fatal disease. Treatment is generally
aimed at supportive care, such as good nursing care and nutrition, and
alleviating the inflammatory response of the disease. Cats with FIP are
often treated with corticosteroids, cytotoxic drugs, and antibiotics.
Supportive care may also include fluid therapy, draining accumulated fluids,
and blood transfusions.
Research is ongoing to find other immunosuppressive drugs that may
slow down the progress of the disease. Attempts are also being made to find
antiviral drugs that will prevent or slow down the replication of the virus.
One promising approach currently being studied combines both an antiviral
agent and an immune response modifier.
Can I protect my cat from getting FIP?
In multiple cat environments, keeping cats as healthy as possible and
minimizing exposure to infectious agents decreases the likelihood of cats
developing FIP. Litter boxes should be kept clean and located away from food
and water dishes. Litter should be cleansed of feces daily, and the box
should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly. Newly acquired cats
and any cats that are suspected of being infected should be separated from
other cats. Preventing overcrowding, keeping cats current on vaccinations,
and providing proper nutrition can also help decrease the occurrence of FIP
in groups of cats.
There is only one licensed FIP vaccine available; however, this
vaccine has minimal if any effectiveness in preventing FIP, and it is not
generally recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners
Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel. Primucell FIP, produced by Pfizer Animal
Health, is a temperature-sensitive, modified-live virus vaccine that is
given as an intranasal vaccine, and is licensed for use in cats at least 16
weeks of age. The vaccine appears to be safe, but the risks and benefits of
vaccination should be weighed carefully. Cat owners should consult their
veterinarian to help them decide if their cat should be vaccinated.
Giving a KrystaLake Bengal Cat/Kitten this vaccine will VOID the 5
year Health Guarantee, amd 1 year FIP Guarantee.
A cataract is any opacity of the lens of the
eye. The normal lens is translucent (clear), and it transmits and focuses
light onto the
in the back of the eye. A cataract within the lens may block the
transmission of light to the retina.
There are many causes of cataracts. Cataracts may be inherited or related to
some other disease process. Most cataracts in the cat develop secondary to
inflammation within the eye, from trauma or some other
Rarely, cataracts in the cat may be inherited, may arise with abnormal
development of the lens, or may occur in association with
abnormalities in the young cat.
Cataracts are not the same as nuclear or lenticular sclerosis, an aging
change that often occurs in the feline lens and does not cause
Cataracts are not as common in cats as they are in dogs. The finding of a
cataract in a cat's eye should lead to a search for an underlying problem.
Cataracts cause varying levels of vision impairment and may lead to
Bluish, gray or white color change
inside of the eye
What to Watch For
Tendency to bump into things
Reluctance to use stairs or jump up onto
Hesitancy in unfamiliar environments
Other signs of blindness
Redness and inflammation
Pain and squinting due to the underlying
Diagnostic tests are necessary to recognize cataracts and exclude other
diseases. Tests may include:
A complete medical history and physical
A complete eye examination. Most
veterinarians have the tools with which to confirm the presence of a
cataract in the lens, but it is often necessary to visit a veterinary
to have a more thorough examination performed using an indirect
ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp biomicroscope.
Blood tests to determine underlying
An ultrasound examination of the eye if
the cataract is too opaque to allow examination of the retina.
Possibly an electroretinogram to
evaluate the function of the retina, especially if the cataract blocks
visualization of the retina.
Treatment must be aimed at correcting
the underlying cause of the cataract.
When cataracts are caused by
inflammation (uveitis) within the eye, the inflammation may be treated with
anti-inflammatory drugs and certain antibiotics.
There is no medical treatment available
to reverse cataracts, to prevent cataracts or to shrink cataracts.
Cataracts that are inherited or appear
to arise spontaneously may be surgically removed. Cataracts associated with
inflammation in the eye cannot be removed surgically unless the inflammation
is brought under control. Many cats with cataracts are poor candidates for
surgery because they have inflammation within the eye.
Whether a cat is a candidate for
cataract surgery can be determined by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Home Care and Prevention
It is important to have all cats with cataracts examined early in the course
of their disease as the cataract is frequently a sign of another underlying
problem. Inflammation in the eye (uveitis) is the most common cause of
cataract development in the cat, and uveitis often indicates the presence of
a systemic disease; therefore, it is important to examine and perform
diagnostic tests in all cats with cataracts.
Even if the cat is not a candidate for surgical removal of the cataracts,
there may be other
needed to treat underlying diseases. If your cat has inoperable cataracts,
he may require help adjusting to his blindness. Be sure to keep objects
around the house in a consistent place and confine the cat to the house or
an enclosed porch, patio or yard. Most blind pets function extremely well in
There is nothing you can do to prevent cataracts.
Progressive retinal atrophy or degeneration (PRA or PRD) is the
name for several diseases that are progressive and lead to
blindness. First recognized at the beginning of the 20th century in
Gordon Setters, this inherited condition has been documented in over
100 dog breeds, and mixed breed animals as well. PRA is not very
common in cats, although the Abyssinian breed seems to have a
predilection. In cats, a deficiency of the amino acid taurine can
result in PRA. This is one reason why cat foods and some feline
nutritional supplements contain taurine.
Anatomy of the eye
eye is a very delicate, yet surprisingly durable organ. It consists
of several layers. The
is a transparent layer that covers the front of the eye. The iris is
the colored part of the eye and it is responsible for letting in
more or less light. The lens gathers and 'bends' light in order to
focus it on the retina. In between the cornea and lens is an area of
fluid which bathes the lens and helps it focus. The retina lines the
inside of the eye and converts light into signals which travel down
the optic nerve to the brain. A large area between the lens and the
retina contains a jelly-like fluid called 'vitreous.' The vitreous
gives the eye its form and shape, provides nutrients, and removes
The retina is the structure affected in PRA. This important
part of the eye receives the light gathered and focused by the other
eye structures. It takes the light and essentially converts it into
electrical nerve signals that the brain, via the optic nerve,
interprets as vision. The retina contains photoreceptors, called
rods and cones, which help the animal see in darkness (rods) and see
certain colors (cones).
What is PRA?
Normally, the photoreceptors in the retinas develop after
birth to about 8 weeks of age. In PRA in cats, the photoreceptors
develop in the kittens, but as the cat ages, the receptors
degenerate. Progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRCD) is the most
common form of PRA in cats, and starts with night blindness and
progresses to total blindness at 3 to 5 years of age. The late onset
of clinical signs in PRCD is particularly devastating to breeding
programs because cats may have already been bred prior to the onset
What are the signs of PRA?
PRA is non painful and outward appearance of the eye is often
normal, i.e.; no redness, excess tearing, or squinting. Owners may
notice a change in personality of their cat such as a reluctance to
go down stairs or down a dark hallway. This is characteristic of
night blindness, in which vision may appear to improve during the
daytime. As the disease progresses, owners can observe a dilation of
the pupils and the reflection of light from the back of the eye. If
the blindness is progressing slowly, the owner may not notice any
signs until the cat is in unfamiliar surroundings and the lack of
vision is more apparent. In some animals, the lens of their eyes may
become opaque or cloudy.
How is PRA diagnosed?
on the form of PRA, characteristic changes in the retina and other
parts of the eye may be observed through an ophthalmic examination
by a veterinary opthalmologist. More sophisticated tests such as
may also be used. Both tests are painless and the animal does not
have to be anesthetized.
How is PRA treated?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for PRA, nor a way to
slow the progression of the disease. Animals with PRA usually become
blind. Cats are remarkably adaptable to progressive blindness, and
can often seem to perform normally in their customary environments.
Evidence of the blindness is more pronounced if the furniture is
rearranged or the animals are in unfamiliar surroundings.
Can PRA be prevented?
PRA has been
shown to have a genetic component. Kittens from parents who have no
history of the disease have less risk of developing the disease.
Affected animals should not be bred and should be
The littermates or parents of animals with PRA should also not be
bred. If your cat develops PRA, notify the breeder, if possible.
In the last several years, DNA testingis being used to
identify which genes are responsible for PRA in dogs. Tests in cats
are not yet available.
Flat Chested Kitten Syndrome is a deformity of a kitten's ribs and
sternum (breastbone). The medical term for this is Pectus Excavatum and it
is also known as Funnel Chest. The term 'Swimmer Kitten' is sometimes used
when a kitten with FCK crawls with both
out to the side of the chest in a paddling motion.
What are the symptoms?
The kitten's chest is flat, rather than rounded and the ribs bow out
more than normal, along the kitten's sides. The sternum may also collapse
inwards as the kitten breathes. In more severe cases, the sternum is
permanently curved inward, creating a furrow along the kitten's chest.
As well as the flat or furrowed chest, the kitten may:
- Pant or show open-mouthed, heavy breathing
- Tire easily
- Show a reduced activity level (lethargy)
- Have a significant delay in growth
- Have a general loss of condition
- Have splayed front legs
The flat chest means that the kitten cannot expand his lungs properly
with each breath. The muscles between the ribs and the muscles of the
diaphragm do not contract and relax properly, so the kitten must make an
effort to get enough oxygen to his body. It will often look as if the kitten
has a problem with his airway, such as a blockage or infection but on closer
examination, the cause is found to be FCK. A
sometimes accompanies FCK as the heart is also affected by the lack of space
within the chest.
What causes it?
It is not really known why some kittens develop FCK and others, even
in the same litter, don't. There are several suggestions on why FCK occurs:
It may be caused by the surface the kittens are on being too flat, or
hard or slippery. Also, perhaps the FCK was caused by bacteria or a
It may be due to a taurine or
in the mother-cat
during her pregnancy, causing the kitten's bones to be softer than
It may be an hereditary
trait where the kitten inherited FCK from one or both of his parents.
They may not have FCK themselves but may be carriers of the genes that
cause the condition.
These are just some of the theories on what causes FCK. Experts such
as vets, professionals and breeders still don't know exactly what causes it.
The prognosis for these kittens is often uncertain. If the FCK is
mild, the kitten may grow out of it without intervention and eventually have
a normal, rounded chest. Twice daily
where the kitten's legs are gently flexed and massaged into the normal
position, may help. This loosens and lengthens the muscles and tendons in
the legs, allowing them to gradually develop into the correct position.
If a kitten has splayed legs and prefers to lie on his back or flat on
his stomach, turning him to lie on his side and gently holding him that way
for a few minutes, several times a day, often helps. The kitten may need
supplemental feeding with a kitten formula such as KMR or Just Born, to help
maintain his weight and good condition, as kittens with FCK sometimes have
trouble nursing from the mother-cat.. When the kitten is old enough,
encourage him to walk, as this helps the chest return to a more normal
Another treatment for FCK is surgical correction, which has proven to
be successful. The most common surgical method used, is to fix the ribs and
sternum to an external splint which moves them into the correct position.
The earliest a kitten can have this surgery is at 8 weeks old.
If you suspect a kitten has FCK, it is best to take him to a vet for a
full evaluation. In cases where the FCK is severe, the kitten may have to be
euthanized if he is suffering or there is no hope for his recovery. If the
FCK is mild or moderate, the kitten may grow up to be a normal,
Due to the large amount of information on this subject I
will just be posting links.
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