Devon Rex Health
Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: (HCM) is by far the most common heart disease in cats. According to several studies, it is also the number one cause of spontaneous death in all indoor adult cats.
Just as rare as a superfit sports star who drops suddenly and dies on the field – the same thing occurs in cats. Except, in cats, sudden death due to HCM is surprisingly common, and often the first – and only - symptom. In people HCM is generally diagnosed whereas in cats, the first time the owner may be aware of there being a problem, is a symptom that may be a clot. The problem is that these stroke-like events continue and typically worsen.
I often wonder whether our Sonny had HCM as he was affected on two occasions with stroke like events, the second causing him being put to sleep. Unfortunately so far as I am aware, feline HCM was not particularly well known at the time of his death and we did not proceed with any diagnostic procedures after the first episode, nor was any further investigation recommeded by my Vet.
The ramifications of this is that as this disease is a genetically inherited from an autosomal dominant gene which means that Sonny must have inherited it from one of his parents and will have passed the gene onto some of his progeny. Luckily, not too many of his kittens went into breeding programmes, but some may have.
HCM does not usually show until a cat is adult, meaning that affected cats can produce kittens before anyone is aware of the problems. Fortunately is does not appear to be a disease which Devons suffer from in any large degree, but if you are interested in reading further go to this site.
Luxating Patellae: is found with a greater incidence in Devon Rex according to Dr. Susan Little, the well known President of The Winn Feline Foundation. The kneecap slips out of the groove where is would normally sit and causes the cat pain and distress. In some cats an operation is a viable option to deepen the groove. This has to be carried out as early as possible to prevent tendons stretching and loosing their elasticity. Many cats seem to deal quite well with this problem. Currently, there is no definitive explaination as to how and why this painful disease is transmitted but it is believed that it is an unfortunate combination of several polygenes from BOTH parents and not a gene carried by one cat as is suggested on the web site of another breeder.
Inherited Myopathy (Spacticity): This dreadful disease, the bane for many years of the Devon Rex is a recessive inherited disease.
Briefly, it manifests itself in a variety of ways, the typical gait - stiff leg, the head flexed at a bizarre angle, protruding shoulder blades, megaesophagus which can cause inhalation of food into the lungs leading to pneumonia and a general air of fragility. It can appear from the age of 3-23 weeks, by which time most kittens are in their new homes.
Fortunately there is now a DNA test called CMS which is available at UC Davis. Both my girls have been tested and are clear. Ferdiah will be tested when he next has his HCM scan.
Vitamin K dependent Coagulopathy: is exactly what it says it is. A few Devons have been diagnosed with this disease which manifests itself usually only at the time of an operation when the cat will not stop bleeding. A boost of Vitamin K usually rectifies this, as it can in humans who have problems with coagulation.
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis: Breeders and owners of Devon Rex and Devon Rex Variants are recommended to blood type test all their cats but more especially all breeding stock. Blood type A kittens resulting from a mating between a type A stud and a type B queen may die within the first few days of life if allowed to suckle their mother's colostrum. It is also important to know that cats with type B blood can die if given a transfusion of the common type A blood.
Anyone conducting a mating between a type B female and type A male has to be aware of the 16-24 hours recommended whereby any kittens resulting from this mating will require to be hand fed, either by gastric tube or syringe.
A type B cat will produce powerful antiA antibodies and these are found in high numbers in the colostrum of the mother. These antibodies react to the surface proteins of the red blood cells, and destroy them; this process is called isoerythrolysis. This can cause acute anaemia, and usually produces noticeable signs of jaundice as the kittens’ immature livers struggle to clear them of the dead blood cells. The destruction of the oxygen-carrying red cells and the resulting anaemia may cause necrotic damage to the kittens’ vital internal organs, and/or necrosis of their extremities, such as the tips of ears or tails. Typically, affected kittens will pass characteristically dark brown or red-coloured urine, due to the excretion of the dead blood cells. In cases where isoerethrolysis is a risk or is suspected, the kitten may be stimulated to urinate onto a pad of white cotton wool or tissue to check for the characteristic discolouratioFailure to do so will result in the loss of those type A kittens absorbing the antibodies throught the gut wall into the bloodstream. After 16-24 hours (depending on whose research you read) the antibodies cannot pass through the gut membrane and so the problem has passed and the kittens are able to suckle as normal.