Devon Rex Cats Health Issues

Health Issues

A brief summary of some of the more breed specific health issues which can affect Devon Rex cats

The Hazards Of Owning a White Cat

Of course pure white cats (Dominant White) can come is many shapes, sizes and breeds. A word of warning to those people seduced by this coat colour New Zealand sun and Dominant white cats are a recipe for certain suffering. Dominant white cats are extremely susceptible to skin cancer and if they live long enough they will develop this condition.

White cat with skin cancer

Breed Specific Health Issues

Of Course Devon Rex are able to suffer from any disease afflicting cats, this page is not intended to be a comprehensive cover of all cat diseases and infections, but rather to briefly discuss those issues more relevant to the Devon Rex Breed. Because I have an ongoing relationship with my kitten homes, I do share in the joys and heartaches my kittens bring to their families. It also gives me the essential tools for tracking my cats' ongoing health. I have designed an Annual Health Review form and would really appreciate my kitten owners taking a few minutes to complete it annually, even if it is just to say all is well, I am then able to keep my database current and identify any health or temperament problems consistently occurring in my cats and address these issues. I also keep a DNA bank with DNA samples from all of my cats in case there is a need to test any individual or line of cats, my testing is done by UC Davis Laboratory in California.

Pseudo Haemophilia & Spasticity

Unfortunately the establishment of any breed entails inbreeding which gives more opportunity for both good and bad genes to be set within the breed. The two most note worthy inherited disorders in the Devon Rex are pseudo haemophilia and spasticity also known as myopathy, because Devon Rex have been used as outcrosses for the Sphynx breeding program these disorders also occur in the Sphynx. We are most fortunate in being able to work with cats test mated safe from both these defects. However in order to continue to produce kittens we know are safe, we are having to outcross to cats of other breeds, including Domestic, Abyssinian and Tonkinese. The kittens from these matings are registered on the Provisional Register as Devon Rex Variants (Hybrids). We personally feel this outcross program is well worth the time and expense that it entails. Devons are too wonderful a breed to see them suffering from these defects.

Blood Type

As well as several other breeds including Birman and Abyssinian, Devons often have TYPE B BLOOD. While this in its own right is not cause for concern, it is worth noting in case of a medical or surgical emergency, if a cat receives a transfusion of the incorrect blood type this can be fatal. As breeders we must hand feed any kittens from type B queens mated to a type A stud, for a period of twenty four hours this prevents the kittens absorbing antibodies from their mothers' colostrum. After this time period the kittens can nurse safely from their mothers. While we hand-feed the litter, the mothers are adorned with a custom made body suit, making nursing impossible.

Devon Rex Queen wearing custom body suit

They can still enjoy bonding with and grooming their precious kittens. If kittens from a type B queen not mated to a type B stud suckle they can develop Neonatal Isoerythrolysis.

Health Issues Common to all Cats

HCM (Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy) This disorder is one of the most common causes of heart disease in cats, and can affect any breed of cat including Domestic. It's mode of inheritance is different in different species and different breeds. In Maine Coone cats this is caused by an autosomal dominant gene. However in Devon Rex it is still not established how the disease is inherited, but it is thought to be via a series of genes i.e. polygenic. This makes eliminating the disease very difficult. Sadly we have produced our first cat with this problem, he became acutely unwell at 2 1/2 years old and died within hours, I would not have discovered this problem if I had not kept in contact with his owner! The few cats in our breeding program who are related have been Echo tested, Elvis Purreezily, the cat's sire had some early changes, he was desexed and retired, Elvis's sister was clear and had further clear tests, she is now retired and no breeding cats have been kept from her.

Hip Dysplasia Again this is a health issue which can and does occur in any animal with hips, so fish etc are safe. In humans it is commonly known as 'clicky hips' The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, in hip dysplasia, the socket is often shallow and therefore the ball portion of the joint does not fit well. This can lead to the joint wearing and in severe cases becoming dislocated. Because cats are light bodied, and exercise at their will, they are often not diagnosed. We have had a year old cat develop an odd gait and his x-ray has indicated a degree of hip dysplasia. Because cats are rarely actually diagnosed, there is not grading system such as there is available for dogs and most cases probably remain undiagnosed.

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