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09 February 2013 @ 07:04 pm
So upsetting.  
I don't even know where to start with this.

I haven't bred a litter since late 2007, after which I desexed all of my cats. As a result I've lost track of their ancestors without actually going back to their pedigrees to look.

So. Late last year I discovered that a cat named Jomai Blue Ben is a known carrier of ARVC - Arrythmogenic Right Ventricle Cardiomyopathy. This disease is a pretty rare form of cardiomyopathy, and unlike its more common relative Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy it is sometimes seen in Birman lines. I also learned the symptoms of the disease, and they fit perfectly with the symptoms suffered by a cat of mine that died in 2003 aged 5. That cat had Ben in her pedigree, only two gens back. I still have that cat's sister, Ratty; she's now 14 years old and apart from the odd liver complaint she's perfectly healthy. I think. I also have three of Ratty's daughters. All of them are suspect but so far all are healthy.

Late December my ex-stud Tang went off his feed, and vet discovered he had a heart murmur. That wasn't the problem, though, and after a course of antibiotics he came good again. Until early January, when I came home from work one day and discovered he'd passed. Checking his pedigree, I discovered that he too had Jomai Blue Ben two gens back. Which means that my Princess Fatty Kitten (pictured in icon) has a double whammy, as she is Ratty and Tang's daughter.

Then today I was filling out a show entry form; first time I've entered Chicken in a show for about four years. I had to include a copy of her pedigree, and there was Blue Ben in her lines as well. I had thought she was totally unrelated to my other cats but seems not :-( . And to make matters worse - her pedigree shows that Blue Ben was the father of a cat named The Sheik, who just happens to be my Little Dot's father. As Ratty is Dot's mother, she also has the double whammy.

What this means is the only Birman I have who isn't related to Blue Ben is my 17 year old Miss Kissy. However, I lost both her brother and her mother about 12 years ago after saddle clots paralysed their back legs. At the time my vet thought that the clots could have been related to cardiomyopathy but he was looking for the commoner hypertrophic type, not ARVC. So it's possible that he missed it. Still, Kissy is going strong and I don't think she's at risk.

It's really, really disheartening. I always thought that I'd take up breeding again once I retired and had time to spend with kittens (and to that end I've kept my breeder's licence current), but if the disease is so widespread I don't know that I'd want to; at least not with Birmans. Maybe a different breed? I love the Norwegians as well but some lines there have hip problems. Siamese are gorgeous, and I've owned a Meezer before who utterly charmed me - it might be nice to breed and show shorthaired cats for a change. But I love the Birman breed so much; their temperament, their personalities, and their looks, all add up to a wonderful cat. It would take a bit of searching, though, to find cats who are totally unrelated to Ben (and another known carrier) because if you go back far enough, about 80% of the Birmans in this country today can be traced back to the original imports in the late 60s.
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
entropy_houseentropy_house on February 9th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. :^P

If you do wind up looking for a different breed of cat to raise, maybe you'd consider the Ragdoll? I don't know what health problems they're likely to have, but they are, I think, similar to Birman in beauty and personality.

I have kinda wound up with what I'm pretty sure is a half-Ragdoll cat & she's the sweetest, purringest, playful, but mellow kitty, which seems to be a breed trait.

miwahni: Cats BIrmanmiwahni on February 9th, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for hugs; really appreciated when I'm feeling so low.

Is that your Natasha you're talking about? I can explain exactly why she's "playful but mellow"; Birmans were one of the foundation breeds used in the establishment of the Ragdoll, and that's where their lovely laid-back temperament comes from. :-) Playful but mellow is exactly what you get with a Birman.

Raggies are really flavour of the month here at the moment. It's funny how breeds seem to go in and out of fashion; years ago there were that many Birmans on the show bench but the numbers have dwindled, whereas at the last National show there were so many Ragdolls they warranted their own ring. Back in 1994 my lovely seal point girl won her challenge class against 10 other seal point females at the Birman specialty show; last year there wasn't a seal point female on the bench. I have to wonder whether other breeders are encountering ARVC and just not talking about it; having said that, I really became aware of it when another local breeder / member of the Birman club / longhair judge discovered she had it in her lines and promptly desexed every cat she owned except for her boy who is a total outcross. So if Jenny was game to speak out without censure (believe me, breeders can be a vicious bunch!) then surely others would have spoken up too....
entropy_houseentropy_house on February 9th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's Natasha. I was really planning to put her back outside once she was fully recovered from the spaying, (I have to isolate her from Bonnie who sick-its a *really* big room, but still not the whole house) but 'Tasha seems to be ok with the confinement- she's got lots of toys & I go in and play with her often.

Sounds like you might be happy with Ragdolls. Nothing eases heartache like a cuddly kitten. *more huggles*
miwahni: Cats Meezermiwahni on February 10th, 2013 08:48 am (UTC)
Natasha sounds like she's really landed on all four paws.
Strike while the irony is hot: [EMATE] HUGS C'MEREdraycevixen on February 9th, 2013 03:50 pm (UTC)

I'm sorry that this news has all hit you at once. *hugs* ♥

I don't think I've ever heard of a pedigree breed that didn't have some established problem except for Border Collies but then they have such great variation allowed within the breed standard. Is there a cat equivalent of that? It just seems like the more variation allowed, the more diverse the bloodlines might be.
miwahni: Cats Sparklemeezermiwahni on February 10th, 2013 09:21 am (UTC)
The only breed I can think of where breeders aren't working hard to eliminate something nasty is the British Shorthair; partly because of their origins (you can't get much more genetically diverse than the humble alley cat!) and also because there are sufficient numbers of careful, dedicated breeders who monitor their lines very closely.

A few breeds here suffer from too few breeders without enough cash to be constantly importing the new lines that are needed to keep the breed viable. When you consider that the only country we can import from without a month's quarantine is New Zealand, you can see why the shrinking gene pool is a real problem. Maine Coons, Norwegians, Turkish Vans - there are now only three TV breeders in the whole of Australia. Almost the death knell for the breed when numbers drop that low.
Strike while the irony is hot: [EMATE] CUPPAdraycevixen on February 10th, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC)

I find it highly appropriate that the UK, which in effect is filled with the mutts of Europe thanks to having been invaded and settled by everyone, is the home of both the Border Collie and the British Shorthair. *g*

I have a mate who breeds Borsois and watching her trying to carefully negotiate the bloodlines even gives me a headache. Outside of Eastern Europe the breed really doesn't have enough genetic variety.
miwahni: Cats Gandalf the grey and whitemiwahni on February 11th, 2013 10:32 am (UTC)
You should be proud *g*
anonpussynamer: cats versionanonpussynamer on February 19th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
Is there really only three TV breeders in Australia? That is so sad - I know of JW (a Vanstar is sleeping on the hutch as I type *grin* - our Diva) of course, but wonder who the others are. As you know, we lost our darling Mussie from what I suspect was HCM now, at the end of December and I am missing him so much. :*( However the TVs in this house are desexed - I do have 2 who have to be (2 females) due to the person we got them off refusing to handover the paperwork ... biaotch! >:( TV's didn't have a good rap here due to temperament until Mussie and Bibz got on the bench a couple of years ago. LOL

Yes, it's sad about how the breeds are "disappearing" - hardly any Aby breeders showing in NSW and there's only one Somali breeder (of course, there's more Somali people in Australia *g*) in Sydney now. You know who I mean .... ;)
miwahni: Cats BIrmanmiwahni on February 20th, 2013 10:25 am (UTC)
Is there really only three TV breeders in Australia?
Sadly, it appears so. This was a comment JW made at our last meeting and I guess she'd know. One of the others is a club member who lives out the back of Ipswich and has been breeding for donkeys' years (not ChrisT who has retired from breeding) but I don't know who the other is.

We have a few Aby breeders up here and there was a Somali at the last show I attended but I don't know who bred him. He could have come from DebT for all I know. (was in the neuters). One breed that has made a real resurgence here is the Devon, there are a few good breeders now. Fell in love with a little red chap at a breeder's home recently, but didn't think Zig would take too kindly to a new kitten; he gets so jealous when I pick up Bodie.
What we DON'T hardly see is Siamese.Or any G2 for that matter.
miwahnimiwahni on February 20th, 2013 10:57 am (UTC)
PS {hugs} for Mussie... I know exactly how you feel. Losing TangMan was a blow.
(Deleted comment)
miwahni: Cats Zig and Bodie fullmiwahni on February 10th, 2013 09:21 am (UTC)
Thank you.