Marbled Bengal Cat - photograph copyright Helmi Flick - no association with this cat and heart disease that the author knows of.
Heart disease in Bengal cats seems to be a growing concern. This is an additional post on the subject. There are others, click here to see all posts on cat health. The reason why there are several posts is because I gather information progressively. And information is disclosed by breeders piecemeal. I think that heart disease in Bengal cats is of major importance to the entire breed. Bengal cat breeders are rightly proud of their work.
They try very hard to do the right thing for the betterment of the breed as a whole. But they are in a business and it would seem that in the past they may have kept quiet about a growing health problem when it would have been wiser in hindsight to open up on it to ensure the health of cats for the future.
The two types of heart disease concerned are HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and DCM (Dilated cardiomyopathy). HCM is the thickening of the heart muscles. DCM is the thinning, dilating of the heart muscles/wall. Both make the heart less efficient.
HCM can present with symptoms (see this post for symptoms). It is a little difficult to find hard facts on this tricky subject; there are some, however. Here they are:-
-- DCM is treated by giving taurine supplements and it works (in addition to other drugs - I'll leave that to the vets obviously). This is because the disease is caused (at least in part) by a lack of taurine in the diet.
-- It is unclear if taurine can help cats with HCM. This is because of a lack of research. And HCM is a genetically inherited disease so on the face of it a supplement may not help.
Cats need taurine, without it their will be health issues such as heart disease (DCM) and retina deficiencies for example.
-- Bengal cats are dying suddenly without warning of HCM. They can be OK when you go to bed and dead when you wake up. Testing can be done and should be done.
-- Cats are carnivores. Meat contains taurine. When cooked there is less taurine. Example: Uncooked beef: 362 mg/kg, cooked beef (baked) 133mg/kg, cooked beef (boiled) 60mg/kg. lamb has a slightly higher level of taurine.
-- It is not clear as to exactly how much taurine supplement the Bengal cat needs - is it more than other domestic cats? The ALC (leopard) needs a lot more apparently.
-- We don't know how big an issue heart disease in Bengal Cats is. We should know. It may be that this is a big problem. PETA and HSUS would probably like to use this against breeders. Breeders are it seems paying the price of not dealing with it more openly initially.
More to come I expect.
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