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"Maximizing Efficiency: How HCM Scanning Can Benefit Your Cattery.” HCM CLINIC HAWAII

Updated: Feb 28

HCM scanning is something that is really beneficial to all breeds. It is not a perfect tool, but it does help the breeders, the pet buyers and the cat's themselves. As time as gone on, more and more breeders of all breeds realize this and now scan for HCM. 

For the very first time in history, Dr. Nishimura is hosting an HCM clinic for all cat breeds in Hawaii! If you breed in the state, it is highly recommended to start adding this heart health screening to your list of testing. (& at HALF the costs) I am thrilled to be a part of this journey with you!

If you have not ever scanned your cats, it may be something to start considering doing regardless of breed. Catching the disease early can prolong a cat’s life with proper medical treatment. It affects all breeds of cats. Here is an interesting study about apparently healthy cats and HCM:

One important note:

These HCM discount clinics are for cats that have NOT been previously diagnosed with heart issues. Also excluded are cats that have been vet referred to a cardiologist due to suspected issues. Cats with abnormal hearts require further testing, need more time than the clinic allows; and cost more because of additional services and expertise. These cats require a regular appointment.

The Cardiologists: Dr. Satoko Nishimura, she is a board certified cardiologist.

What to Expect:

The Exam: This is a full cardiac exam with physical and ultrasound testing. It takes about 10-15 minutes per cat. Cardiologists weigh and examine your cat first. After weight and physical exam, a trained vet tech will put the cat on his/her side in the table. Then ultrasound gel is used for the wand and it is placed on cat's chest. Cats are not shaved.

Information about HCM and various other heart diseases in cats:

****TO SIGN UP:**** Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is found in all cat breeds and is the most common heart disease found in all domestic cats. HCM is a thickening of the heart's left ventricle wall. This is generally a genetic disease, but there can be secondary causes such as thyroid issues. Some cats that have heart conditions show no outward symptoms (ie heart murmur) when checked by a non-specialist vet. It is often known as the silent killer as some cats have no symptoms until they in cardiac arrest. This is why we, ethical breeders do echocardiograms on all breeding cats. And.. most importantly – these exams have to be done by a board certified cardiologist. This is an extremely important example to show how breeders must pay attention to the pedigree as well as scan. Scanning is only one tool. The pedigree is another. Everyone is going to have a different risk threshold and each individual needs to evaluate that carefully.

WHAT IS IN THE HEART:   Motives for scanning do matter. If one scans to market their cats for sales, there is the possibility that only the good will be reported.  Timeliness of the information is important as well.  Sometimes people do not tell you about the scans or share the appropriate documents. Make sure you see the actual documents for the scans or ask if you can speak with the cardiologist to confirm the information. There are databases out there. Unless it is run by an unbiased, non-breeder, do not trust it. I am not sure about other breeds, however I know in the Sphynx databases, there are definitely mistakes. Some cats are positive and marked not so. 

DOES HCM POSITIVE CATS IN A LINE MAKE A BREEDER BAD?   HCM positive cats alone do not make a breeder “bad” or one to avoid.  Even proactive breeders will have HCM pop up as scanning is only a tool. Ragdolls and Maine Coons have the DNA testing however the DNA testing is not a perfect tool either as there are thought to be many HCM mutations.  

As with most things, it is the actions taken that differentiate a conscientious breeder from the rest. When this does happen, a caring breeder needs to assess the risk and takes action to mitigate the risk. These actions include informing those with related lines immediately and possibly altering related cats and/or using them with more caution. A good breeder wants to know how pets in pet homes are doing. Truthfully, this is the best gauge of how a breeding program is going. 

BOTH MY CAT'S PARENTS ARE TESTED NORMAL, HOW CAN MY CAT HAVE HCM?Unfortunately, the HCM scanning and pedigree study is not a perfect tool. You can get an HCM positive cat out of two negative parents. The transmission is thought to be autosomal dominant with variable expression. The variable expression is how this disease gets tricky. This means a parent can have the gene but never express it in its lifetime or express it much later on. But this gene can be passed along to an offspring and the offspring can develop HCM.  This variability makes it harder to detect.  Scanning does help breeding programs immensely. I am and always will be an advocate for regular HCM scanning.  Pet buyers and breeders alike should seek to support breeders that scan regularly and are open about their results. If you are going to purchase a kitten as a breeder or as a pet, do not be afraid to ask for the HCM scan of the parents.

Some will argue that the cat’s “normal” scan is only good for today. And they are not wrong except they leave out one very important part!  If the cat has a genetic heart issue, removing that cat from a breeding program is so important. These are my personal examples of how scanning & pedigree study has helped my breeding program.

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