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Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats in something that has only now (somewhat late in the day) come to my notice. I have just seen an article on Tufts website referring to the Sept. 2007 conference. This posting is not a "knock the Bengal Cat" post. I love all cats. The natural instinct for breeders and those involved in the cat fancy is to be quiet about problems. This is natural to protect business.

The problem of HCM in Bengal cats would seem to have been dealt with quietly. Breeders realize, though, that it is for the best in the long term to discuss the difficult subjects, openly. They do in fact discuss breeding issues on forums such as Yahoo Groups. It is essential to do so for the welfare of the cats. It is not compatible with good cat breeding (an ethical approach to breeding) to knowingly or recklessly breed cats that might have an inherited disorder that shortens the life of the cat and has a negative impact on their welfare and/or the breed generally.

It is with surprise and sadness that I have discovered that the Bengal cat breed suffers from two heritable disorders. I have made posts on the first disorder, HCM. Read this for basic information on HCM and this for HCM and the Bengal Cat. PRA also affects Abyssinian cats.

The other is what Tufts calls is a "novel" version of this disease. As I understand it "novel" means distinct or unique to the Bengal Cat as this disease affects other cat breeds. This disease is caused by gene mutation. Different genes in the Bengal cat have mutated to those in the Persian cat, which has a version that starts early in the cat's life and the Abyssinian has a version that is "late onset".

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats is mid term so it starts neither early or later in the life of the cat. The Tufts speaker said that in at least 10 Bengal cats the mutated gene can be traced back to a common ancestor 3-6 generations earlier.

I presume that there is ongoing work on this. I have not heard of Bengal Cat breeders talk of this disorder except once. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats causes the cat to go blind I understand. Ask about this when adopting a Bengal cat (or indeed a Persian or Abyssinian).

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats to Bengal cats

Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a group of genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs and, more rarely, cats. It is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss culminating in blindness. The condition in nearly all breeds is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait (the section in grey is a Wikipedia® verbatim copy of a part of a larger article)

There have been 2 studies (there may have been more subsequently). One took place in Sweden, the other England. The Swedish cats inherited the disease through an autosomal recessive gene the English cats a autosomal dominant gene.

The English type has been classified as rod-cone dysplasia. This type of PRA has an early onset of severe vision loss. It is caused by a defect in the gene for cGMP-phosphodiesterase, which leads to retinal levels of cyclic guanosine monophosphate ten times normal (the section in grey is a Wikipedia® verbatim copy of a part of a larger article)

The Swedish PRA disease can progress slowly allowing the cat to adjust and masking the condition as cats do so well in using other senses (see blind cat and blind cat dignity). The disease caused severe vision loss.

Cat breeds affected: Abyssinian, Bengal

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Bengal cats - Wikipedia
Click on this link to see the Wikipedia® License src: Wikipedia® published under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version, November 2002 Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA - - no other conditions to the license are added.


Anonymous said…
I've had my marbled bengal for 8 years, my snowy bengal for 7 1/2, i've not noticed any vision problems. I definately will continue to work on solutions for this problem.
Anonymous said…
Hi there,
I am an owner of 3 lovely bengal cats and last year 1 of them suddenly began to bump into walls etc. At the cats age of 2 years I thought he was being a bit 'clumsey'. I noticed his pupils were severely dialated. Sadly he was diagnosed with retinal degeneration and is now completely blind. This is such a devistating disease. To watch a healthy active cat go blind is mind-boggling. I'm hoping there will in time be extensive research and the breeders need to be careful; afterall, we love our 'kids' and to watch them fall to this disease needs to be on the breeders 'priority' list to avoid. Thanks for posting this article.

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