Information on Bengals
I do realize some interested in the Bengal have probably researched the breed and learned of its fascinating history. I will update this page shortly to include how and when the Bengal breed was created and about the peculiar, hilarious and wonderful traits they possess.
I will give a brief overview of some of the medical issues that Bengals may face. I explain more thoroughly in my kitten care instructions.
HCM - We screen for HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which literally means an enlarged heart. Sadly, the screenings do not guarantee two healthy parents who screen clear will not produce a kitten that develops HCM in their life. Until a genetic test comes out that we breeders can use to sort out who may carry a known gene for HCM, the screenings once a year will have to be our only option, as well as use breeders in the program who do not have direct relations to a known HCM carrier.
Intestinal Parasites - including Coccidia, Giardia and Tritrichomonas foetus are one celled microscopic parasites that settle into the intestines of their host, causing symptoms ranging from diarrhea, weight loss, voracious appetites and mushy very smelly poop in the litterbox. The more breeders we are bringing home, the more we see these parasites as issues within the Bengal community.We had been doing preventative protocol methods to prevent our babies from infection. However, what I am seeing is the more antibiotics are given, even if no infection exists, the more resistant their bodies become to treatment. Due to this, kittens will only receive antibiotics *if actually needed*. Because many fecal tests come out as a false negative depending on when the cycts are shed from the parasite, we are PCR testing all of our breeders each year to ensure our cattery is parasite-free.
FIP/Corona Virus - A high percentage of the cat population is exposed to and harbors the corona virus. It is a virus that sits in their intestines causing mild diarrhea for a few days and then becomes benign, causing no future issues. In rare instances (5-10%), the virus leaves the cat's intestines and infects their white blood cells, which carries the virus through the cat's body. This becomes clinical FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis), a strain of the coronavirus. It is fatal and the cat quickly succumbs to the virus. Previously, a titer test that can measure a cat's level of antibodies to the coronavirus would be used to detect the coronavirus, but this doesn't mean a cat with high levels carries the strain that develops into FIP or a cat with low levels would never get FIP. Sadly, we have had a kitten develop and pass away from this horrible virus. I have reached out to a Professor of virology, Dr. Gary Whittaker, who is the leading researcher at Cornell University and is studying FIP now, to understand more about FIP and hopefully, find a way of preventing it in the future. Dr. Whittaker and his team have made wonderful progress in their study of this virus, but unfortunately, are still far from preventing and treating it. In his email to me, he states, "There is little that can be done to guarantee an FIP free cat, as the virus is so ubiquitous and its not possible to easily discriminate the mutated virus if it is present (although we are working on this)". With this information at present, I can not guarantee kittens to be FIP free. It would be un-ethical for me to do so. And although the risks are low, they are still always there. I can only say that if a kitten from our cattery did develop FIP, my health guarantee would ensure a replacement kitten. That wouldn't help the pain of a loss, but I truly do care about the people who want to spend forever with one of my babies and this is one way of showing. ***Please note, if you ever see on a breeder's website that their cattery is FIP free and guarantee it will never develop, consider not buying from them. That is not correct information, as per Cornell University.
Upper Respiratoy Infections - I have recently attended a webinar hosted by Dr. Emmanuel Fontaine, a veterinarian of Royal Canin Canada, who packed a lot of information on URI's within a 45 minute timespan. I took notes and will be updating this site on the various viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. For now, I'm just focusing on the most common virus, FHV-1, or the herpes virus. Many cats have been exposed to and are carriers of the herpes virus. Once carriers, the cat will have it for the rest of their lives. Under stress, the virus will shed and secondary symptoms such as eye discharge will show. These secondary symptoms can be controlled with antibiotics and Lysine. But as a virus, just like a person's common cold, the cat cannot be cured. Vaccines will help with lowering the severity of the virus, and of course, feeding your pet a high premium diet, plenty of rest and love, is always beneficial.
FYI - Sometimes I'll have people remark that they recently just had a cold and gave it to their cat, or vice versa. Viruses cannot be transfered from one species to another. Only certain infectious diseases such as fungus, bacterial infections and parasites such as fleas can be spread.