Studying the Genetic Basis of Feline Heart Disease

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in London have been awarded a second grant from the Winn Feline Foundation to continue a study on cardiomyopathy in Birmans.

The disease takes several forms: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the walls of the heart are thick; restrictive, where the walls are stiff; dilated, where there is thinning and weakening of the heart muscle, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular, where fat and scar tissue replace heart muscle, primarily in the right side of the heart.

It’s not clear if different diseases and causes exist, or if the cardiomyopathies are part of a disease with one genetic cause. Researchers will test 18 genes associated with cardiomyopathy in humans to look for possible mutations that might be responsible for cardiomyopathy in Birmans. If successful, the study could lead to a genetic test for cardiomyopathy in the breed.