Feline Cardiomyopathy Consortium (FCC)
The feline veterinary and genetics research community have formed a worldwide collaborative consortium to investigate cardiomyopathies in domestic cats and domestic cat breeds. A variety of cat breeds throughout the world has concerns for an increased incidence of heart disease, particularly hypertrophic (HCM) and restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM). This consortium has formed to directly benefit the research community by identifying genetic factors influencing feline cardiomyopathies. The major objective of the consortium is to elucidate the genetic mutations that are directly causative and or increase the risk for developing feline heart disease, with the goal of eradicating and or monitoring the mutations within the cat populations via genetic testing and clinical evaluations.
The consortium will consider all breeds and cat populations that have indications of increased incidence of cardiomyopathies, sharing both data, including clinical diagnosis, signalment and pedigree information, and DNA samples. The newly released Illumina Infinium Feline 60K array is a valuable tool for genetic studies of complex diseases. Via the consortium, sufficient sample sizes should be ascertained by the worldwide collaborative effort to tackle the different cardiomyopathies in the different cat breeds and populations.
Breed focus groups within the consortium, including geneticists and veterinary cardiologists, will lead specific cardiac disease projects for specific breeds. Other consortium collaborators will support the research of each group when appropriate, supplying additional data and DNA samples when available. The goal of the consortium is to develop larger, directed, and collaborative projects for genetic studies of feline cardiomyopathies, instead of smaller, competitive projects that may not succeed due to the lack of power in the genetic analyses. A collaborative effort should enhance cooperation in the feline genetics and veterinary communities and support the pooling and sharing of resources and funding sources.
Researchers, veterinarians, cat breeders, cat registries and clubs, and cat owners are welcome to contact any member of the consortium to participate. The consortium will assist with the identification of clinicians to support the clinical diagnosis via echocardiograms and how to provide pedigree information and DNA samples to the research teams.
Current high focus breeds include (all breeds welcome):
- Maine Coon
- Sacred Birman
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- British Shorthair
- Other breeds
Characterization of heart status
For this project, it is vital that cats are correctly diagnosed as being normal or having HCM. The most efficient way to examine heart status in a living cat is to examine it by echocardiography. This is a completely non-invasive technique where the moving heart is visualized on a screen. The examiner can use this image to study the anatomy of the heart, how the heart moves and measure heart dimensions. A sedative is usually not required to perform this examination, only very mild restraint is needed to keep the cat lying on its side on a table.
The type of genetic analysis that will be used in these present studies requires a blood sample. This blood sample is collected in the same way as any other blood test by inserting a fine needle into a vein and a few milliliters of blood (4 ml) is collected into a blood tube containing an anticoagulant agent (EDTA). The sampling is usually done by a trained veterinary nurse and only involves minimal restraint while the blood is collected. The procedure means minimal discomfort for the cat.
Information about pedigree
In addition to cardiac health status, it is important for the project to have information concerning cat identity and pedigree.
If you are interested to participate in any of the collaborators below can be contacted.