Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM is a common disease in cats in general both of purebred and mixed ancestry. A cat can be born with HCM or develop it as an adult later on in life. It affects the heart causing an enlargement and thickening of the heart wall. This disease is hereditary in origin as certain proteins mutate causing the wall thickening. Excessive growth hormone and parathyroid hormones are other genetic causes of the disease. In severe cases heart failure and fluid accumulation surrounding the lungs results eventually leading to death.
Currently there is no test specifically for HCM, but regular testing via an echocardiogram is highly recommended to measure the heart and monitor its growth as well as listen for murmurs which indicates a restriction of blood through the heart. This screening is not a guarantee it is simply a precautionary practice. On the other hand, there are no other tests or observable indicators of the disease unless the HCM has progressed to a point where the patient is too far gone. Please also keep in mind murmurs can be the result of other problems than HCM.
Breeding cats should be screened every year and reputable breeders will not only do these screens but provide the results for each cat. Scientists are currently working on finding the gene that causes HCM in Bengals (there are DNA tests for Mainecoons and Ragdolls). There is also a data base (Bengal-data.com) that many breeders have contributed to that publicly allows one to see lines with a history of HCM.
Please visit each of our cat's individual pages to view their test results.