Ragamuffin cat

 

As a long time breeder of Labrador Retrievers, I have been utilizing health clearances for breeding animals for many years. It is an important part of breeding. To be a conscientious breeder, one must be aware of possible health issues in any breed and work to avoid issues.

The DNA tests available today are wonderful additions to every breeding program. Utilizing these tests to give our RagaMuffins the best chance at a healthy life is imperative. It’s not difficult, not prohibitively expensive and so, so important. The main two DNA tests that should be run on every breeding animal is PKD1 for polycystic kidney disease (primarily from the Persian in the background of muffins) and HCM Ragdoll for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy  ( found in Ragdolls, a cousin to our muffins).

Another test every breeder should run is blood type. While blood type does not affect the long term health of a cat in any way, it can affect the viability of a litter of kittens. Breeding the wrong blood types together will result in the loss of an entire litter unless extreme measures are taken.

Since Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is caused by a number of different factors, the DNA test is only one way to prevent the disease. Some breeders also choose to have echocardiograms done by a veterinary cardiologist on each of their breeding cats to ensure the parent is clear of HCM. This is something I am doing these days.

An issue that has been noticed more recently is the lack of one uterine horn that may be associated with only one kidney (about 33% of females with one uterine horn have only one kidney). All affected cats have both ovaries.  Affected cats live normal lives, however, it is not ideal for a breeding program. Since the cats appear normal, the cats with this issue are often discovered at the time of a spay procedure. I am now recommending that at the time of an echocardiogram, cats be checked for two kidneys. This genetic abnormality has been observed mostly in Ragdolls, but also in Persians and random brede cats.

Doing every test possible is not a guarantee of a perfect kitten. What it DOES guarantee is that the breeder has utilized the tools available to produce the healthiest animal possible. Pet buyers should not be afraid to ask about what  testing has been performed and even ask for documentation.