There are 5 top health concerns to be aware of when choosing a King and Queen to be a part of your breeding program. Health tested parents greatly increase the likelihood of having healthy kittens! Here are the health checks our Ragdolls must pass before they are bred:
1. HCM – Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) effects about 5% of the cat population, making it a very common disease of domesticated cats. This condition causes the muscular walls of the heart to improperly thicken which then diminishes the function of the heart. This slow decline towards heart failure can go undiagnosed until the disease has progressed too far for interventions to be helpful. Cats with HCM can experience heart murmurs and arrhythmias, difficulty breathing, increased respiratory rate, decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy/weakness/collapse, life threatening blood clots and eventual cardiac failure. This is a chronic, often hidden illness for which there is no cure. It is the most common cause of sudden death in indoor cats.
2. CIN (Chronic interstitial nephritis) and PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) – chronic diseases of the kidneys
CIN is a complex disease that is the end result of a wide range of possible disorders affecting the kidney, where irreversible damage has occurred leading to a reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Multiple factors may be involved in the development of chronic kidney disease, including genetics, age, individual and environmental factors.
PKD is an inherited condition in cats that causes multiple cysts (pockets of fluid) to form in the kidneys. These cysts are present from birth. Initially they are very small but they grow larger over time and may eventually disrupt kidney function resulting in kidney failure.
3. Blood group:
The safest breeding combination in Ragdolls is two homozygous blood group A (queen and king are both blood type AA). This is the most common in Ragdolls. However, if the queen is mated with a king of a different blood type (AA to AB or AA to BB), any kittens born to her with a different blood type than their mother will receive antibodies against their own blood type, which can cause neonatal isoerythrolysis. These antibodies destroy the kittens own red blood cells, which can cause kittens to become jaundiced, to have brown urine, have the tip of their tail fall off, or even death.
4. PG (dwarfism)
In 2015 and 2016, a number of poorly matched breedings occurred in Sweden, the result of which is now dwarfism showing up in Ragdolls. Ragdolls with this condition have a very short lifespan, often only weeks to months, along with signs of mental impairment. Shockingly, this cat is present in the pedigree of almost half of the number of Ragdoll litters that were registered in SVERAK in 2016! It is a common bloodline that many Swedish breeders have in their lines today.
Approximately 45% of all Ragdolls’ genes comes from a single cat, Raggedy Ann’s Daddy Warbucks (who was bred back to his mother, sisters and half sisters), which means inbreeding. Inbreeding causes low genetic variability and increased risk of hereditary and degenerative diseases, is a serious problem in Ragdolls. We study our pedigrees before mating to make sure our inbreeding index is as low as possible!