In the News: Persians DNA May Hold Clue to Their Heart Disease

Winn Feline Foundation has awarded a grant for the evaluation of DNA variants associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, in Persians. HCM is the most common cardiac disease in cats. Previously, genetic mutations have been found in Maine Coons and Ragdolls, which led to genetic tests for screening before breeding.

Kathryn Meurs, DVM, Ph.D., ACVIM, at North Carolina State will lead the study of Persians. The goals are improved breeding and treatment for affected cats.

Whole genome sequencing has identified multiple DNA variants found only in HCM-affected Persians. HCM is characterized by thickening of the walls of the ventricle — the primary pump muscle of the heart — and has been diagnosed in cats as young as 4 months and as old as 16 years. While many cats with the disease do not appear ill, others may show signs of heart failure, including labored or rapid breathing and lethargy.