Breed Issues


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.

 Talking about our problems is the only way to solve them!













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What is HCM? 
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.

What 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.

Is 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 discovered. 

Can 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.

How is HCM diagnosed?
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.

Should 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 decision.

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 date.

At 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.

What 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 tested.

Can a breeding program guarantee being “HCM-free”?
Certainly not!
  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 exposure.

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

retina 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
eye problem. Rarely, cataracts in the cat may be inherited, may arise with abnormal development of the lens, or may occur in association with nutritional 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
blindness. 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 blindness.

What to Watch For

  • Bluish, gray or white color change inside of the eye
  • Tendency to bump into things
  • Reluctance to use stairs or jump up onto objects
  • Hesitancy in unfamiliar environments
  • Other signs of blindness
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Pain and squinting due to the underlying cause

  • Diagnosis

    Diagnostic tests are necessary to recognize cataracts and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:
  • A complete medical history and physical examination.
  • 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
  • ophthalmologist to have a more thorough examination performed using an indirect ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp biomicroscope.
  • Blood tests to determine underlying causes.
  • 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
  • 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
    medications 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 familiar environments.

    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

    The eye is a very delicate, yet surprisingly durable organ. It consists of several layers. The cornea 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 waste products.

    The retina

    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 of symptoms.

    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?

    Depending 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 electroretinography 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 spayed or neutered. 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

    front legs 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.

    Flat Chested Kitten

    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

    heart murmur 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:

    Environment - 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 virus.
  • Nutrition - It may be due to a taurine or calcium deficiency in the mother-cat during her pregnancy, causing the kitten's bones to be softer than usual.
  • Genetics - 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

    physiotherapy, 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 shape.

    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,

    healthy cat.



    Tritrichomonas foetus

    Due to the large amount of information on this subject I will just be posting links.












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