This list has been divided into specific cat breeds and within each breed section it is divided into different body systems. This is followed by a more general section which addresses conditions that can affect many different breeds of cat, and also includes conditions which appear to affect certain breeds (or at least certain breeding lines of certain breeds) more frequently than others. However, some of the conditions in this section may be multi-factorial in nature and may possibly result from breed-related management practices rather than resulting solely from genetics.
The conditions have been colour coded into those where:
- the genetics of the condition has been confirmed and/or a genetic test is available
- a breed predisposition is recognised and the condition is strongly suspected to be inherited
- a potential breed predisposition is recognised but it is not currently known if the condition is inherited or not, only single case reports are available or evidence is anecdotal
In addition, the conditions are marked with:
- (*) to denote that they are well recognised within the breed
- (r) if they have only been seen/reported in specific lines or groups of cats.
Single case reports that were published a long time ago (and where the condition described has not been seen since) have been omitted.
The list has been complied from many different sources (see below), however, it is important to realise that no list can be exhaustive and it can only be as accurate as the information from which it was complied. The letter (below) from the Dr David Sargan, University of Cambridge, adds some important comments that need to be remembered when considering this list.
In order for veterinarians to give advice on the possible presence or severity of inherited diseases they need to have access to accurate breed-related information and they need to be able to understand the connection between inbreeding and disease incidence. In addition, they need to recognise that all such lists are unsatisfactory as a means of assessing the genetic health of a particular breed. This is because the length of any breed-related list will depend to a great degree on the level of surveillance within the breed, and vary with the breed’s long term popularity or special factors such as a breed’s usage in medical research. It would be wrong to contend that, for example, the Burmese breed is hugely less healthy than the Tonkinese. It is simply that the former is more numerous and has an active and vigilant breed club, while the latter is less numerous and less studied. In fact, much of our information would suggest that in very general terms, the less popular a breed, the smaller the available gene pool and the more likely it is (per cat) that there will be inherited disease problems. On the other hand, many (and potentially all) of the inherited diseases known in pedigree breeds may also be found in mixed breed cats (but usually with lower prevalence).
With the exception of diseases for which open registries or health schemes exist, there is little data on the prevalence of potentially inheritable conditions in different cat breeds or the severity of the disease’s effect on the welfare for the animals. Such data are very hard to collect. While there are a few clear examples where abnormalities of conformation or severe inherited conditions have such a high prevalence and/or such severe effects on welfare and morbidity that they constitute a clear reason to counsel prospective cat owners against those breed lines, outside of these the best course of action will be to advise breeders who have cases of a given disease to consider withdrawing the affected cat from breeding, along with its parents and close relatives. Veterinarians should counsel prospective owners to check with breeders as to whether or not their breed of cat has a history of heritable conditions, and to request information about possible clinical and/or DNA based testing schemes. In general, we should be cautious about making sweeping statements against a particular breed.
David Sargan MA PhD
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology and Director of Postgraduate Studies
Centre for Veterinary Science, University of Cambridge
PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE UPDATED – LET US KNOW OF ANY NEW INFORMATION, REFERENCES, AND TESTS THAT HAVE BECOME AVAILABLE.
This list was complied with input from:
Gough A and Thomas A. Breed Predispositions in Dogs and Cats, 2004, Published by Blackwell Publishing.
Hoskins JD (1995) Congenital defects of cats. Compendium of Small Animal Practice 17(3): 385-405
Robinson R. (1987) Genetic defects in cats. Companion Animal Practice. 1(3): 10-14 & Robinson R (1987) Hereditary defects in cats. FAB Journal, Spring: 10-11 (both references contain a list of some 40 defects with established modes of inheritance and about 20 suspected of genetic etiologies).
Saperstein G, Harris S and Leipold HW (1976) Congenital defects in domestic cats. Feline Practice July: 18-43
A number of different genetic tests are available from a number of different laboratories, including:
Animal Health Trust Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk,
CB8 7UU, UK
Tel: 01638 751000
Fax: 08700 50 24 25
Batt Laboratories Ltd, The University of Warwick Science Park, UK
Tel: 0247 632 3275
Fax: 0871 750 5323
Langford Veterinary Services, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, UK
Tel: +44 (0)117 928 9412
Fax: +44 (0)117 928 9613
The Josephine Deubler Genetic Disease Testing Laboratory, The School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Tel: 215 898 3375 Fax: 215 573 2162
The U. C. Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory: www.vgl.ucdavis.edu