Genetics Picture

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Problems in the breed

  • Gather all information about the disease! At what age can one see the first signs in an affected cat? How does it manifest itself in the cats? Is it serious? Is there any cure?
  • Maybe one can see how it is inherited? Is it a dominant gene, a single recessive gene, sex-linked inheritance, polygenetic?
  • Are there ways of testing the cats for the disease, in order to get a quick answer to who is carrying the gene/genes?
  • Try and find out approximately what percentage of the population that is affected!

If it is a serious disease, that will affect quite a lot of cats among the breed, it might be useful to make a special health program in order to cope with the problem. How one organizes the health program depends somewhat on the answers to the above mentioned questions. The most important part in all health programs is to spread information. One has to spread information of the symptoms of the disease, development, inheritance, and possible tests available. This can be done through club magazines, brochures, web sites, meetings in breed associations and seminars. Quite often there is resentment among breeders to deal with, or even admit, health problems existing within the breed. This is not often because the breeders don't care if the cats get sick or not, but is often due to fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge. If one doesn't know how to deal with the problems it feels awkward to talk about them. Many are afraid of other breeders' panic reactions, that others will demand whole breeding lines to be neutered if a case of the disease is known. Unfortunately such a fear is not always irrelevant. Due to the same lack of knowledge there are incidents when breeders want to take drastic actions in order to quickly solve the problem within the breed. It is as crazy as putting your head in the sand and pretending there are no problems. There are only two types of panic reaction. And none of them will benefit the cats, of course. The measures taken must be reasonable and in proportion to the difficulty of the problem. Under no circumstances should one select so hard that more than 1/3 of the cats in the population are taken out of breeding due to one and the same health problem. If one takes too drastic measurements the whole breeding population might be too small, and this might cause problems with MORE genetic diseases in the population just because of the diminished breeding population. And this was exactly what we did not want to bring about!

Hence, the foundation of a health program is information, information and yet again information!

Then it might be also be cause for registering cases of disease and possible test results. If one decides to do this, one should also consider the register to be open for all people to take part of the results. This has been a conclusive factor in order for a health program to give good results. Lack of openness will only cause gossip and speculations, while facts will effectively end all discussions of that type. And then all the energy might be put into doing something useful about the problem.