Prepurchase Exams for Cats: What You Need to Know

A cat being examined

Prepurchase Exams for Cats: What You Need to Know

In equine medicine, a prepurchase examination is a common veterinarian task. It’s designed to help the buyer of the horse determine the health and fitness of the horse for sale. Is it a horse for a beginner rider, for family trail riding or for competitive jumping?

Recently, a friend of mine called with an unusual request – she wanted a prepurchase examination for a cat. One of her family members suffers from cat allergies, and she wanted me to evaluate a certain cat for its hypoallergenic potential. I have never performed a prepurchase examination for a cat, so I spent some time identifying issues and considerations to address. I hope my thoughts are useful to my readers as well.

Purchasing a Purebred Cat

The cat under consideration was a purebred Siberian cat. Before you criticize this family for not considering a shelter cat, remember that the choice of a purebred companion animal is often made with a specific intent. In this case, the family preferred a Siberian cat due to its hypoallergenic qualities. According to a Siberian cat website, some Siberian cats have a lower level of FelD1, which is the feline substance that cause cat allergies in humans. I looked to see if there is an FelD1 test available to veterinarians, but I could only find a research test. I suggested she ask the breeder about testing for FeLD1.

Genetic Testing for a Siberian Cat

Next, I wanted to determine what, if any, genetic diseases a Siberian cat might be predisposed to and find if there are tests for those diseases. According to my review, Siberian cats are at risk for a heart abnormality called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is inherited, but the disorder is not always possible to detect until a cat is mature. There are some genetic tests available, but a cat testing negative can still develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A cat testing double positive (a bad gene from both the mom cat and dad cat) is at highest risk. To evaluate the cat in question, a veterinarian could listen to the heart with a stethoscope and if the heart sounds are abnormal, this would not be the right kitten. Specific genetic tests for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy exist for Maine Coon cats and Ragdolls, and a test for Siberian cats is currently under development.

If you are looking at purebred dogs, the Orthopedic Foundation of American maintains a list of canine genetic diseases by breed.

Breed-specific Resources for Dogs and Cats

Because each feline or canine breed is unique, the individual breed clubs may have very specific resources for those interested in a pet of that breed. While investigating the Siberian cat breed, I found a wonderful open-registry database of Siberian pedigrees. This allows potential Siberian families to check the health records of the kitten’s ancestors. In the end, the Siberian was not the right kitten for the family, but next time I’m asked about a prepurchase exam for a cat, I will be prepared.

Tags: cats, FelD1, genetic testing, prepurchase exams,

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