This is one of the most important part to us. For your Bengal to be happy, he has to be healthy. Health comes with a balanced diet, some physical activities, enough interaction with other beings (either animals or humans), and a nice clean environment. However, even if they have all this, they also need to be free from diseases, virus and parasites to be healthy and happy. Let’s have a look at the main ones, the ones you should always ask your breeder before getting a kitten from him. Of course, all our Bengal Kings and Queens are tested and free from all of the following diseases/parasites/bacterias/viruses before being mated.
A Happy, Healthy Bengal
Free from diseases
Clean and Adequate Environment
HCM stands for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It is a heart condition which is quite frequent in the Bengal Breed. It consists in the heart’s muscle growing and becoming very thick. Because of this, it will be more and more difficult for the heart to contract and send as much blood as needed to irrigate the body. This causes the heart to contract even harder, so the muscle gets even thicker, and even less blood is sent throughout the other organs. It results in cats that are very quickly tired after or during physical activity, who have chest pain, and a high arterial pressure. Some cases can even lead to heart failure and death. This condition is hereditary. This is why it is very important to test both parents before mating them together. To test this, an ultrasound made by a vet cardiologist is necessary. It is recommended to start screening your cat at 1,5 years old, and then to do some check up-screens yearly.
Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency is an inherited anemia caused by insufficient activity of the Pyruvate Kinase. Pyruvate Kinase is an enzyme responsible for the last step of glycolysis. Glycolysis is the process from which red blood cells actually get their energy from. If there is a Pyruvate Kinase deficiency, it results in an energy deficit for red blood cells, which end up dying, and this way causes anemia. It is a recessive genetic disease caused by the presence of two copies of the defective gene. You may already have noticed on breeders announces that their cats are PK-Def N/N. This means they have no copy of the defective gene. The cat is healthy. When the cat is noted as PK-Def N/K, it means it has 1 copy of the defective gene. So he carries the gene, but he is still healthy. However, he has to be mated to another cat who is PK-Def N/N, otherwise they risk to have affected kittens. Finally, a cat who is PK-Def K/K is a cat that has two copies of the gene. This cat is affected by the PK-Deficiency disease and will develop anemia. This can be tested by collecting DNA from the cat, with a buccal swab, by rubbing the swab in the mouth against the jaw, and sending it to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory of the University of California, in Davis (UC Davis). All our Bengals are tested PK-Def N/N, healthy.
Cat with anemia - You can see the gums are very pale when they should normally be pink
Bengal Progressive Retinal Atrophy is also an inherited and recessive disease, caused by two copies of a defective gene. It caused the destruction of the photoreceptors on the retina. Photoreceptors are cells that register the light. This disease will lead to blindness by 2 years old. It is important to note that the PRA-b test is not the same as the PRA test : the PRA test is a general test that also looks for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, however, searchers have noticed that the genes causing this blindness in Bengals is generally not the same as in other cat breeds. This is why the PRA-b test was created. The « b » stands for Bengal, and is hereby specific to bengals. Just like for PK-Def, Bengals can be PRA-b N/N, which means they are healthy. When the cat is noted as PRA-b N/PRA, it means the cat has 1 copy of the defective gene. So he carries the gene, but he is still healthy. However, he has to be mated to another cat who is PRA-b N/N, otherwise they risk to have affected kittens. Finally, a cat who is PRA-b PRA/PRA is a cat that has two copies of the gene. This cat is affected by the Bengal Progressive Retinal Atrophy disease and will develop blindness. This can be tested by collecting DNA from the cat, with a buccal swab, by rubbing the swab in the mouth against the jaw, and sending it to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory of the University of California, in Davis (UC Davis). All our Bengals are PRA-b N/N, healthy.
A Bengal with Progressive Retinal Atrophy
FIV is the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the equivalent of the AIDS in humans, however, it is not transmissible to humans. It causes an inability to develop a certain type of white blood cells, which are indispensable for an immune response. Even though this virus can be in incubations for months or even years, with cats presenting absolutely no signs of FIV, once it declares itself, it is quite aggressive. Since the cat can no longer protect himself from pathogens, he is more likely to become sick, to develop different kinds of infections, and even cancers. It is possible to live with FIV, but it is clearly more complicated, and many sad cases end with death. This virus can be transferred through saliva, during fights, by licking, through blood during sexual intercourse or through milk when mothers breastfeed. This can be tested in 10 minutes by taking a drop of blood at your vet. All our cats are tested and free of FIV.
Cat with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline Leukemia Virus is very frequent in domestic cat. It actually is the second cause of death in cats, after traumas. It is very aggressive : it has been reported to kill 85% of the affected cats within 3 years of diagnostic. It causes anemia, and suppresses the immune system. Because of that, and just like FIV, FeLV positive cats won’t be able to defend themselves as well against pathogens, and will this way be prone to deadly infections. It is also transmitted through saliva and blood, feces and urine. Kittens can be born with it by contracting it from their mother during her pregnancy. They can also get it through milk. FeLV can be tested in 10 minutes by taking a drop of blood at your vet. All our cats are tested and free of FeLV.
This is a kind of parasite : a protozoa with a flagellum that lives in the large intestine. They are responsible for enteritis and profuse diarrhea. They concern young cats, of less than a year old, in 75% of the cases. They are quite frequent in catteries, and they can be transmitted through feces. Tritrichomonas is going to provoke absorption troubles, which will end up in diarrhea, sometimes with blood and mucus. However, the cat’s general state is conserved. This parasite can be identified through stool analysis, thanks to a PCR in a specialized laboratory. We regularly test our cattery to make sure it is Tritrichomonas-free.
Giardia is another parasite. Just like Tritrichomonas, it is a protozoa with a flagellum, but it lives in the small intestine. It is transmissible to other species like dogs or humans. It is quite frequent in catteries. Giardia provokes absorption troubles, which induces greasy diarrhea with mucus. Cats with Giardia tend to lose weight even if they eat much more than they should. This parasite can be transmitted by feces. It can be identified through stool analysis, thanks to a PCR in a specialized laboratory. We regularly test our cattery to make sure it is Giardia-free.
Coccidia is another parasite. Just like Tritrichomonas and Giardia, it is a protozoa with a flagellum. It lives in the small intestine. It generally affects young kittens, of less than 6 months. Coccidia provokes the destruction of the intestine cells, which induces enteritis, diarrhea with blood, dehydration, loss of weight and fever. It can end up in death in only two days if it is not treated. This parasite can be transmitted by feces. Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium are part of the "Coccidia" order. They can be identified through stool analysis, thanks to a PCR in a specialized laboratory. We regularly test our cattery to make sure it is Coccidia-free.
Chlamydophila is a GRAM - bacteria that causes Chlamydia. It is an infection that generally affects young cats, even though it can touch all of them. It can be transmitted by contact with an infected cat, or by clothes and objects that have been in contact with an infected cat. Symptoms are mainly ocular : the eye is excessively watery. We can also observe respiratory affections such as sneezing, runny noses,… and general affections with a weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, abortions,… This can be tested by doing a vaginal swab, and then a PCR in a specialized laboratory. We also test our Cattery, to check that it is free from Chlamydophila.
Cat with Chlamydia, presenting epiphora (watery eyes)
This virus can either be benign and cause enteritis (in most cases), or be deadly, and cause the Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). It is very contagious, and can be transmitted through saliva and stool.
In the benign case, the cat will present diarrhea and vomiting. In the case of Feline Infectious Peritonitis, the cat will lose appetite, have fever, be lethargic, lose weight. It will then start to reach different parts of the body, and depending on that have various symptoms : liquid in the thorax or abdomen, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, kidney and liver failures, it can touch the nervous system,… They can be identified through stool analysis, thanks to a PCR in a specialized laboratory. We check regularly our Cattery is free from Coronavirus.
Cat with Feline Infectious Peritonitis, presenting ascites (liquid in the abdomen)
Cat with Feline Herpesvirus, presenting severe herpetic conjunctivitis with ulceration
Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) is one of the viruses that causes the « Coryza Syndrome ». It is transmitted by nasal sprays and eye discharges. A vaccine exists against this virus : it doesn’t prevent the cat from getting Coryza, but it helps decreasing the intensity of a potential infection. Once a cat has been infected by the Herpesvirus, the virus will stay in its body, but won’t be expressed 100% of the time : It will only « come out » when the cat is going through a stressful situation (a vaccine, a disease, moving out, travelling, welcoming a new pet,…). A cat with Coryza is a cat that sneezes a lot, that has a runny nose, and watery eyes. In some bad cases, eyes can be swollen and red with a conjunctivitis. It can even lead to corneal ulcers ! Feline Herpesvirus can be identified by sending ocular or oral swabs to a specialized laboratory that will do a PCR. All our cats are tested for Feline Herpesvirus.
The Feline Calicivirus (FCV) is also one of those that causes « Coryza Syndrome ». He is very often associated to the Herpesvirus. It has the same symptoms : sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes with conjunctivitis, and fever. Feline Calicivirus also causes buccal affections : cats also present stomatitis (oral mucosa inflammation) and ulcers in the mouth, which are very painful and prevent them from eating.
Just like Herpesvirus, Calicivirus is transmitted by eye discharges, nasal sprays and saliva. It can be identified by sending ocular or oral swabs to a specialized laboratory that will do a PCR. All our cats are tested for Feline Calicivirus.