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I'd like to have my purebred Abyssinian male - purchased from one of the top Abby breeders in the United States - evaluated for genetic disorders. A male littermate had a single kidney and a single testicle. My thirteen month boy has had lifelong, periodic loose-stool issues (which continue to this day and after treatment for a positive TF finding and number of other tests performed primarily at Angell Memorial in Boston) and a peripheral vision deficiency. Outwardly he is healthy and happy but I am worried about what is ticking away below the surface.

I see a number of firms offering DNA testing for felines and I'm wondering if forum members have any recommendations borne of experience? If the test materials can survive the trip without degrading, I'm prepared to go to any recommended lab in the world (that I can afford).

Finally, can someone explain to me why the associations (CFA, TICA, CFF, others) take little or no interest in genetic vitality? I suspect that I already have the answer to this but I would like to hear other opinions.
 

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I think judges bear quite a bit of responsibility. Really, no judge should put finals ribbons on a cat that obviously has such extremes or any defects.....I'm thinking of the extremely snub-nosed Persian that now has it's nose between it's eyes. The result is tearing eyes and sinus problems, difficulties with anesthesia. The trouble is that owners want their cats to get Ch and GC titles, the more titles in a pedigree the better it is, and then before you know it other owners jump on the same bandwagon to breed the "new look". It's not only the judges, but really the breed council members that should safeguard the health and genetic vitality of their breeding stock, and breeding cats that show any defects should not be used but should be neutered/spayed. The breed council members make changes to the show standard and if there is a majority of members in favor of a change, it is voted on by CFA. At least that's the way I recall it used to be, but I've been out of breeding for quite a while, so maybe things have changed? I do remember many years ago, a Manx got a GC title that was crippled and could not walk normally but only hop, and the cat was owned by a judge. The breed council members were furious that this cat was not disqualified but got a title, and brought forward a "stand and walk" clause into the show standard. They were the only cats that had to demonstrate that they could walk normally. Sometimes this is difficult if the cat is nervous as it will crouch down and not want to walk, but for such a cat the judges would put them back in the cage in such a way that they had to walk into it. For some reason, this clause has been dropped form the current CFA Manx standard, so I'm assuming it was the breed council members' wish that this be done and or it was deemed no longer necessary.
 

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In CFA show standard, although Manx don't have to stand and walk any more, the judge still must Disqualify if there is "evidence of weakness in the hindquarters." In the TICA standard judge must disqualify:

"Any congenital deformity. Weak hindquarters causing inability to stand or walk properly."

 

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I see a number of firms offering DNA testing for felines and I'm wondering if forum members have any recommendations borne of experience? If the test materials can survive the trip without degrading, I'm prepared to go to any recommended lab in the world (that I can afford).

For abys I believe DNA-test får PRA1 and PK-defiency are the only recommended tests and I hope your cats breeder already have done the tests on the parents. If your cat needs to be tested depends a little bit on the parents results. I've used UC Davis when DNA-testing my cats. It's easy and they're very professionall. They run every test at least twice in order to reduce the risk for errors. All you do is to collect saliva on a few cotton swabs, let them air dry and send them by regular mail. The test material won't degrade. The most common problems are to little DNA in the material or contamination, but if you swab the chins for 30 seconds an hour after feeding there shouldn't be any problems.

Finally, can someone explain to me why the associations (CFA, TICA, CFF, others) take little or no interest in genetic vitality? I suspect that I already have the answer to this but I would like to hear other opinions.

This is a tough one, but what it comes down to is the members. The associations are their members. If the majority of the members want to have... lets say a health program for PKD1 they are the ones that can make it happen. They can send motions on health programs to the board and depending on how the assocation works the board OR all the members vote if the motion is to be denied or implemented.

Since most members are show enthusiasts and/or breeders we make the rules. I think it's a great idea for pet owners to be members and to be active in writing propositions and in voting. Pet owners often feel powerless when they buy sick kittens and see health problems growing in the different breeds, but even pet owners can make a difference.

In Sweden there's a tradition for the independent breed clubs to create recommendations for health testing so the largest association, SVERAK, currently doesn't run many health programs. Probably because the active members also are members in the independent breed clubs and follow ther recommendations. We also have a very strict Animal Welfare Act which forbids breeding in animals with high risk of passing on genetic defects. Currently it's interpreted as breeders are obligated to do the tests recommended by experts. If you break the law you risk 2 years in prison. t all sounds great in theory but in practise no prosecutor cares about cats...
 

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It's really not up to the registry (CFA, TICA) to ensure genetic testing. They just register cats. It is up to the purebred's parent club to set forth a code of ethics. If a COE exists for genetic testing then the buyer can find out if the breeder is operating within the parent club's guidelines. If they are not, then the buyer can search until they find someone who is doing health testing and breeding in an ethical manner.
You vote with your dollars. Do your research and don't support unethical breeder by purchasing their kittens.
 

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I hope you neuter your cat. Abyssinians have been suffering from a limited gene pool for quite some time. If your cat has gut issues and his sibling has only one kidney, I'd say there were too many issues for your cat to possibly be a breeder. Abyssinian breeders need to get some fresh blood. I had abys in the 1970's when the standard read "A large to medium sized well muscled cat" I don't imagine your cat looks anything like that.
I think Abyssinians are beautiful, but they suffer from being bred by people who do not understand the ramifications of their own breeding programs. Good luck with the testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I hope you neuter your cat. Abyssinians have been suffering from a limited gene pool for quite some time. If your cat has gut issues and his sibling has only one kidney, I'd say there were too many issues for your cat to possibly be a breeder. Abyssinian breeders need to get some fresh blood. I had abys in the 1970's when the standard read "A large to medium sized well muscled cat" I don't imagine your cat looks anything like that.
I think Abyssinians are beautiful, but they suffer from being bred by people who do not understand the ramifications of their own breeding programs. Good luck with the testing.
My boy is ripples with musculature (reminds me of Brando in Streetcar). He is now thirteen months old, weighs 3.7 kg (8-1/4 lbs) and has a vertical leap that would have everyone here screaming "liar" if I mentioned it! The boy was neutered seven months ago (as was his sibling). I agree with you regards breeders but I would certainly not limit it Abys - this bomb ticks (to a degree) in all purebreds.

I will post the UC Davis test findings here as soon as they are received.
 

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I am learning so much about the cat world from this forum. I was sitting here reading this and my mouth just dropped open at some of this stuff. I always saw a cat as a cat nothing more nothing less. They are Queens and kings or they think they are I have learned. But, when I seen giving ribbons for certain cats I am a bit shocked by this. I know they do this in the dog world but I never thought about it in the cat world before. Is there such thing as kitty mills? I know I am a very open about speaking out against puppie mills. I thank you all for posting stuff like this for the first time Kitty/cat owners like myself.
 

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Abby Dad, I didn't mean to single out Abyssinians; they happen to have been the breed I was most interested in once upon a time. And I'm thrilled that your cat weighs more than 8 pounds and I hope you get his bowel issues figured out. Have you tried a raw food diet?

I could go on and on about genetic issues in Persians, Siamese, Burmese, Maine **** cats; dog breeds, horse breeds, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Abby Dad, I didn't mean to single out Abyssinians; they happen to have been the breed I was most interested in once upon a time. And I'm thrilled that your cat weighs more than 8 pounds and I hope you get his bowel issues figured out. Have you tried a raw food diet?

I could go on and on about genetic issues in Persians, Siamese, Burmese, Maine **** cats; dog breeds, horse breeds, etc...

Raw (usually organic people-food from Whole Paycheck) comprised about half of the boy's diet but the bowel issue was such that (at the advice of a forum member here) I had to rule out food-borne allergies. The boy went of a six-week regime of duck only. I
n the end, I still couldn't rule in or out allergies but my gut tells me that they aren't the issue. Now, he gets raw several times a week on an exchange basis for the normal wet food (he isn't fed dry foods). His current favorites are EVO 95% Duck and Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Chicken Catcciatori (his current favorite-favorite).
 
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