What is a breeding soundness examination?
It is reasonable that all cats that are to be used for breeding, whether male or female, are examined beforehand. This ensures the optimal health of the offspring. Depending on the breed and breed association, certain examinations are also specified if the animal is to be allowed take part in official breeding.
Breeding soundness examination procedure
In a breeding soundness examination the animal is examined thoroughly. This extends from observing and feeling the accessible organs to auscultation (listening) with a stethoscope. The cat’s owner is also asked about anything unusual. This is followed by special tests of individual organ systems that are linked particularly often with genetic disorders.
What breeding soundness examinations are done in cats?
Examination for heart disease
A thorough examination of the heart is very important; as well as auscultation, this also uses ultrasound. Specialist veterinary surgeons with special training and a lot of experience in this area perform this examination. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an important hereditary heart disease that should be identified or excluded by this test. In this condition, a genetic defect causes gradual thickening of the heart muscle, leading ultimately to heart failure. It makes sense to check the cat not only once when it is young but also regularly later as this disease develops gradually. By contrast, congenital malformations of the great blood vessels of the heart can be recognised immediately.
Examination for kidney disease
An ultrasound scan of the kidneys to exclude polycystic kidney disease is also very important in examining a cat for breeding soundness. It particularly affects Persian cats or breeds cross-bred with Persians but can also occur in other breeds. In this conditions, cysts form in the kidney that destroy normal tissue and thus interfere with the important detoxification function of the kidneys.
Hearing test in white cats
All white cats undergo audiometry, a test of hearing. In cats, white colour and deafness are often genetically linked and only cats that can hear with both ears should be used for breeding.
Tests for metabolic diseases
There are now genetic tests for various metabolic diseases that can be performed with a blood sample. These include
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency ((causes anaemia), esp. in Abyssinian/Somali cats)
- Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA, muscle wasting)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA, successive loss of retinal function, leading to blindness in affected cats)
- Glycogen storage disease (metabolic disease associated with muscle weakness and delayed growth, often leads to death in the first year)
- GM2 gangliosidosis (metabolic disorder of nerve cells that leads to neurological deficits)
- Hyperkalaemia (a disorder of potassium metabolism)
When you bring your male / female cat for a breeding soundness examination, always bring the breed association’s official papers such as pedigree or breeding soundness examination forms with you. The results will then be entered correctly, which ensures that they will be recognised by your breed association.
Breeding animals must also be clearly identified. If this has not been done yet, a microchip will be inserted under your cat’s skin on the day of the examination.
Apart from approval for breeding, the breeding soundness examination is also an opportunity for early detection of possible diseases in your animal and thus for optimal and timely treatment.