cats most cases of hypokalaemic myopathy (muscle
weakness due to low levels of blood potassium)
are associated with chronic renal (kidney) failure.
However, it can also be seen in young Burmese
kittens from 2-6 months of age, where a transient
increase in the amount of potassium entering the
cells can result in muscle weakness. The most
obvious clinical signs are generalised muscle
weakness, ventroflexion (extreme weakness) of
the neck, a stiff stilted gait, reluctance to
walk, and muscle pain, with head tremors, peculiar
knuckling of the carpus (wrists), a tendency to
sink on their hocks, and to sit with their stifles
abducted (knees out). Clinical signs may be induced
by exercise, stress or cold weather. Severely
affected cats may collapse and die of respiratory
Testing for hypokalaemia
Diagnosis is made by checking the serum potassium
concentration (which will be low) and serum creatine
kinase (an enzyme which indicates muscle damage)
concentration (which will be increased). Langford
Veterinary Services (LVS), a wholly owned subsidiary
of the University of Bristol, now offers a gene
test to help identify Burmese cats that carry
the mutation responsible for Burmese hypokalaemia.
For further information,
contact LVS on:
telephone: 0117 928 9412
or visit: http://www.langfordvets.co.uk/lab_pcr_hypokalaemia.htm
Treatment is by supplementation with oral potassium.
FAB has set up a register for breeders with cats
that have been tested for hypokalaemia.
Because it is an autosomal recessive disease,
carrier cats do not show signs of the disease,
but kittens which result from the mating of two
carriers are likely to have the following risk
of being affected - 25% normal, 50% carrier and
25% affected. Click
here to access the register.
other breeds may be affected?
the Burmese breed has been used in developing
other breeds, the following may also be at risk
but likely to be considerably lower. Asian,
Australia Mist, Bombay, Burmilla, Cornish Rex,
Devon Rex, Singapura, Sphynx, Tiffanie and Tonkinese.
Terms of the register
- FAB will only accept test results if the cat has been microchipped.
- FAB would need to have a copy of the signed certificate from the Langford Laboratory, showing that the microchip number had been verified by a vet and counter-signed by the vet in question.
- FAB would need to make a charge of £5 per cat for creating and maintaining the register.
- FAB will record results as either 'normal', 'carrier', or 'affected' as per the Langford Vets results in order to identify and distinguish carriers from non-carriers to allow appropriate breeding selections.
If you would like to have your cat entered on the register please send your certificate(s) as outlined in the terms above, togther with a cheque made payable to 'Feline Advisory Bureau' to:
Feline Advisory Bureau