Feline Cardiomyopathy in New Zealand cats

Feline cardiomyopathy is a group of heart muscle disease in cats that affects 1 in every 7 cats. The disease is progressive and many cats eventually succumb to sudden death, fluid build-up in the lungs, and blood clot formation and die.

Despite this disease resulting in a significant number of deaths in cats globally, early detection of disease and how it progresses in the early stages prior to the development of symptoms remains poorly described. Furthermore, the cause and environmental factors that would speed the progression of the disease are largely unknown, and there is no known treatment for this disease at present.

This project will use ultrasound assessment by a board certified veterinary cardiologist to accurately describe the structural and functional features of the two most common types of feline cardiomyopathies in New Zealand (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and restrictive cardiomyopathy). This will provide a precise description of the cardiac structure for planned genetic studies to follow.

The three separate feline populations in New Zealand, the non-purebred, Sphynx and oriental cat breeds, will be prospectively studied and scanned. The association between the heart ultrasound findings and the genetic results in these three populations of cats will be statistically assessed.

The findings of the studies will improve understanding of the natural disease process of feline cardiomyopathy, and provide a foundation for future research to identify and evaluate novel therapeutics agents to effectively treat feline cardiomyopathy. This could enhance veterinary management of cats with cardiomyopathy and significantly enhance their quality of life and longevity.