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http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/hcm.aspxHypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heart disease in cats. It is found in many purebred breeds and is also found in regular Domestic cats (alley cats). It is characterized by a thickening of the heart muscles, usually the heart wall of the left ventricle and the papillary muscles. What happens in HCM is that muscles eventually thicken to the degree that the heart muscles become stiff and the heart has difficulty pumping blood. Eventually, this can lead to an affected cat going into heart failure. HCM can have different causes: genetics, HCM caused by hyperthyroidism, or it can be caused by hypertension. The search for a genetic marker for HCM in Sphynx is being lead by Dr. Kate Meurs at Washington State University. However, there are over 100 different genetic mutation that cause HCM in humans, and even if a marker is found in Sphynx responsible breeders will need to continue to have their cats scanned by veterinary cardiologists and remove affected cats from their programs.

Symptoms of HCM can include labored breathing, limb paralysis caused by blood clots, and/or heart murmurs which can be detected by a regular vet. HOWEVER, not all cats with heart murmurs get HCM and not all cats that have HCM develop heart murmurs. Not all cats with HCM exhibit symptoms either. This is very important for breeders and pet owners to keep in mind. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important that all breeding cats be seen by a cardiologist on a regular basis and why we encourage pet owners to have their Sphynx scanned for HCM by a cardiologist at least a few times during the life of their pet. Of course, if a murmur is detected that persists beyond kittenhood the cat should be seen by a cardiologist. Some cats have murmurs that are benign, and oftentimes kittens will exhibit what is called a physiologic murmur that will go away once their heart is finished growing. However even if the cat does not have a murmur, we would recommend that the cat be seen by a cardiologist at three years of age and seen at least every three years thereafter. If HCM is detected in it’s early stages, there are medications such as atenolol that can be administered to your pet and greatly extend the length and quality of their life. Early detection is key when treating this disease.

Please visit the following sites for more information on HCM: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/hcm.aspx

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopothy in the Sphynx - Webinar
Dr. Kathryn Meurs – http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/pets/videos/sphynx/index.htm

Remember, HCM is a disease and it is nobody's fault. Even the most careful breeders get cats that become HCM positive. When get your Sphynx from a breeder that is doing their best to avoid breeding HCM positive cats it isn't a gaurantee against your pet developing the disease, but it greatly reduces your risk of getting an HCM positive Sphynx down the line!

Responsible breeders will have a clause in their contracts to address the issue of HCM. Make sure to review a pet contract before you purchase your new pet !
HCM Information