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Understanding the Role of Genetics in Feline Heart Disease

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common cause of heart disease in adult cats. Affected cats are at risk of sudden death, breathing difficulties or blood clots. Increasingly, feline HCM is noted to be inherited, and examples have been reported in the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Sphynx, Siberian and Norwegian Forest Cat breeds, among others. Using a new genetic tool called a SNP chip, researchers will perform a genome-wide association to identify a genetic marker to HCM in the Sphynx breed. The SNP chips are a type of DNA chip that contain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic footprints found in DNA, to identify disease causing mutations. The identification of a genetic cause for HCM in the Sphynx can be used to reduce the prevalence of this disease in this breed, and it is also very likely to provide information on this disease in many other breeds of cats.


Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs, Washington State University