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Sphynx Cats and HCM


Staff member
Jan 13, 2009
What is Feline HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy)?

HCM is a form of heart disease that is a frequent topic in the community and all are taken back when their cat is diagnosed with it. The likelihood of heart disease in the general cat population (all cats not breed specific) has been estimated to be as high as 14%-34%. The most common heart disease in all cats is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). For those not aware, HCM is a condition that causes the muscular walls of a cat's heart to thicken, specifically the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle.) When this thickens there is less room for blood to fill the heart and the muscle is less able to pump blood effectively and this continues to progress and weaken.

How to test for HCM:

Getting your cats heart scanned (echocardiogram) at 1 year of age with a certified cardiologist to get a baseline is suggested and then yearly to bi-yearly according to your cardiologist’s direction can help detect this condition early on in hopes to slow down the progression.

“YES” it is a horrible disease and "NO," it's not only a "Sphynx cat disease!" Heart disease is the leading killer in all cats and not just Sphynx. HCM is a disease that affects animals like cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits and even humans can be diagnosed with HCM. There is no "guarantee" that any animal including Sphynx cats will or will not contract this disease.
For instance, two breeding Sphynx parents can live full healthy lives with no symptoms of HCM, scanned yearly HCM free but one of their kittens can be diagnosed with it 2 years down the road.

Even the best/responsible breeders are not free from possibly having kittens develop HCM. But a good breeder gets their breeding cats hearts scanned annually in hopes to give future litters a better chance of not developing it as it can be genetic. Good breeders invest in their bloodlines, backyard breeders do not. You can ask a breeder for proof of their last HCM test results as well.

How is Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treated?

The Treatment for HCM will depend on the progression of the disease in the Sphynx cat, and can include:

Beta Blockers: atenolol and metoprolol
These drugs have been known to help improve the "filling" function of the left ventricle, which will increase the volume of blood flowing to the lungs of the cat, helping to decrease pulmonary edema.

Calcium Channel Blockers : diltiazem
Also help improve the heart function in the cat, by reducing the heart rate and myocardial oxygen consumption.

ACE Inhibitors: enalapril or benazepril
There have been clinical trials with some cats that seem to indicate that these drugs may work better than Beta Blockers, for improving heart function of the sphynx.

Diuretics: Have been known to help to reduce pulmonary edema in the sphynx. Because of the potential for negative side effects. Renal function must be monitored carefully when diuretics are used on cats.
Treat underlying conditions
Most often Hyperthyroidism and/or hypertension (high blood pressure).

How Long Can my Sphynx Cat Live with HCM?

Every Sphynx cat will carry their own history of the disease, and it is impossible to predict the prognosis of any Sphynx cat with HCM. However, existing technology offers great possibility of several more months to several years, and depending on the overall condition of your cat at diagnosis.
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