Bad breeder or bad luck?

czuva

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My family bought a kitten from a breeder a year ago who had a noticeable heart murmur with his first vet checkup at around 3 months. He was diagnosed with severe HCM and a life prognosis of a year.

The breeder offered a replacement kitten, which we took (a different breed though—they have two breeding programs). Replacement kitten at 7 months old has pretty bad lungs from a recent xray, most likely asthma. Vet says likely to be genetic given how bad the lungs look at such a young age.

Replacement kitten also came with giardia, which breeder said she might’ve picked up at her vet checkup before coming home with us (fecal breeder did for her was negative).

Breeder is generally responsive, we had a contract, came with papers, parents tested with genetic results posted, TICA/CFA certified, and kittens were very $$$$$.

Assuming the incidence of severe HCM is 10% and of bad asthma also 10%, that gives only a 1% chance that this is “just down to bad luck”

What do we even do at this point? Not sure if we’d trust a third replacement kitten, and we’ve probably spent upwards of $10k on the cats so far…

Is this breeder bad, or do we have genuinely trash luck?
 

PuffandPercy

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I'd also be very suspicious about the claim it came form the vet; it seems very unlikely the cat would have come into contact enough with other cats to actually pick it up during a simple checkup.

I can't say I know much other than a bit of a guess based on what I've read here, but I would've thought HCM was something that they should be testing the parents for. It seems like a bit of a bad sign that both kittens had a genetic disorder, and from different litters but the same breeder. Seems to me that something isn't quite right here.
 

Maurey

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What breeds are the kittens? Unless the first kitten is from a breed prone to HCM, the breeder wouldn’t be at fault, as they had no way of knowing the risk. If it is a breed prone to HCM, are both parents N/N, if a test is available for the breed? Are they screened at least bi-yearly for heart issues? If answers to both are yes, its not the breeders’ fault that the kitten has heart issues, and just an unfortunate incidence. That said, a responsible breeder would likely neuter both parents and notify any other owners of cats from the litter that they should check their cats’ hearts. Also, has he been to a specialist since his diagnosis as a kitten/was he diagnosed by a good specialist? I’ve taken my younger cat to a bad cardiologist specialist once, and never again. I’ll take the 2 hour round trip to our nearest good specialist over subjecting either of us to that again, as the bad cardiologist told me completely healthy, HCM N/N at the time 1 y.o cat had HCM several times before she managed to get a decent read on her machine 🙄 Took her to two well-recommended specialists after, and she’s clear for the moment, though as both of mine are MC they’re getting regular screening regardless, so if anything does come up it can be acted on early.

Additionally, kittens will often have heart murmurs that improve or resolve completely by the time they’re 5 or 6 months. Definitely worth consulting a well-renown feline cardiologist in your area to be sure of the diagnosis.

With the lung issues, did you consult with a specialist? Genetic lung issues aren’t super common in cats, to my knowledge.

Definitely highly unlikely that a healthy kitten could catch giardiasis at the vet, unless the vets’ was horridly unsanitary.
 
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czuva

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What breeds are the kittens? Unless the first kitten is from a breed prone to HCM, the breeder wouldn’t be at fault, as they had no way of knowing the risk. If it is a breed prone to HCM, are both parents N/N, if a test is available for the breed? Are they screened at least bi-yearly for heart issues? If answers to both are yes, its not the breeders’ fault that the kitten has heart issues, and just an unfortunate incidence. That said, a responsible breeder would likely neuter both parents and notify any other owners of cats from the litter that they should check their cats’ hearts. Also, has he been to a specialist since his diagnosis as a kitten/was he diagnosed by a good specialist? I’ve taken my younger cat to a bad cardiologist specialist once, and never again. I’ll take the 2 hour round trip to our nearest good specialist over subjecting either of us to that again, as the bad cardiologist told me completely healthy, HCM N/N at the time 1 y.o cat had HCM several times before she managed to get a decent read on her machine 🙄 Took her to two well-recommended specialists after, and she’s clear for the moment, though as both of mine are MC they’re getting regular screening regardless, so if anything does come up it can be acted on early.

Additionally, kittens will often have heart murmurs that improve or resolve completely by the time they’re 5 or 6 months. Definitely worth consulting a well-renown feline cardiologist in your area to be sure of the diagnosis.

With the lung issues, did you consult with a specialist? Genetic lung issues aren’t super common in cats, to my knowledge.

Definitely highly unlikely that a healthy kitten could catch giardiasis at the vet, unless the vets’ was horridly unsanitary.
The original kitten with HCM is a Savannah. Not sure if parents are regularly tested, though I might've read somewhere that there aren't genetic tests for the breed since it's relatively new. He was referred to and diagnosed by a good cardiologist via echocardiogram and has been on heart meds ever since. He definitely has severe HCM. Follow-up appointments have confirmed disease progression, and he displayed symptoms from the beginning.

We're still waiting for the radiologist reading of second kitten's chest x-ray, but her bloodwork was normal and heartworm test negative. It's odd because she doesn't show any outward symptoms of lung issues other than a fast resting breathing rate (which is what led to us doing the chest xray).
 

Maurey

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To my knowledge, HCM isn’t currently considered a breed-related problem in Savannahs, unlike with Bengals, so not many breeders will do annual screenings for heart health as it’s not a common issue. What rotten luck for your little one, regardless — I’m sorry to hear he’s so unwell at such a young age. With him, I wouldn’t be quick to blame the breeder, as it’s not necessarily through negligence on the part of the breeder, though that definitely doesn’t make it easier for you or your poor boy. It’s highly unfortunate, but if they took proper measures after hearing about your poor little one (screening both his parents, likely neutering them as they likely carry some recessive genetics they passed on to your little one, and informing owners of this littermates’ kittens to get their hearts checked) the breeder did everything correctly.

Hopefully it’s something easily cureable or manageable with your second kitten. Is her breathing rate drastically elevated? Is it really warm where you are now? With kittens especially, at rest breathing should be counted when the cat is asleep.

Does seem strange that she’s breathing if everything else seems well with her, but you’re right to be on top of it :) Is she of a flat-faced breed? Could be that her nostrils are a bit small, which can cause a kitten to breath harder than usual. Otherwise, unsure what could cause elevated breathing rate in an otherwise completely healthy young cat. May be worth checking her heart, as well, just to be safe, if the radiologist doesn’t find anything that could explain the issue.
 
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czuva

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To my knowledge, HCM isn’t currently considered a breed-related problem in Savannahs, unlike with Bengals, so not many breeders will do annual screenings for heart health as it’s not a common issue. What rotten luck for your little one, regardless — I’m sorry to hear he’s so unwell at such a young age. With him, I wouldn’t be quick to blame the breeder, as it’s not necessarily through negligence on the part of the breeder, though that definitely doesn’t make it easier for you or your poor boy. It’s highly unfortunate, but if they took proper measures after hearing about your poor little one (screening both his parents, likely neutering them as they likely carry some recessive genetics they passed on to your little one, and informing owners of this littermates’ kittens to get their hearts checked) the breeder did everything correctly.

Hopefully it’s something easily cureable or manageable with your second kitten. Is her breathing rate drastically elevated? Is it really warm where you are now? With kittens especially, at rest breathing should be counted when the cat is asleep.

Does seem strange that she’s breathing if everything else seems well with her, but you’re right to be on top of it :) Is she of a flat-faced breed? Could be that her nostrils are a bit small, which can cause a kitten to breath harder than usual. Otherwise, unsure what could cause elevated breathing rate in an otherwise completely healthy young cat. May be worth checking her heart, as well, just to be safe, if the radiologist doesn’t find anything that could explain the issue.
Radiologist confirmed it’s mild to moderate asthma in second kitten, and she’s been put on steroids which seems to be helping quite a bit.

The breeder has been responsive throughout the whole process, which is why I was so confused/conflicted that both animals have health issues at a young age. To be fair asthma in the second kitten is nowhere near as bad as HCM in the first.

She is not a flat faced breed (I’m trying to avoid revealing breed and identifying the breeder as much as I can).

We’re wondering if the pine litter we use might be aggravating her asthma. I’ve read that pine litter is safe (we use pet-specific kind), but maybe she has an allergy? I used to keep pet rats, and pine is a no-no for their lungs. Didn’t think cats had the same problem.

So far it seems like we really do have terrible luck… or are purebred animals just a lot more prone to health issues than I’d thought?
 

Maurey

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Thats relieving to hear! Asthma isn’t genetic in the sense that you can’t screen to breed it out, outside of, of course, not using any cats with such issues for breeding.

If the breeder has been responsive and open, I wouldn’t worry, tbh — I’m sure they feel horrible that the kittens they’ve produced are doing unwell.

Some kinds of litter can definitely aggravate asthma. Is your pine litter particularly dusty? I’d suggest considering a litter system like the Tidy Cats Breeze. Both low effort, and probably the lowest dust you can get with cat litter. It every cat takes to the large factor of the litter, though.
 

CarmiesMom

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i tried using tidy cats pure nature with my kitties who aren't pure bred by any means (in fact my Mignon is the product of what we belive is several generations of incest as the only male around was his great grandfather and then his grandfather his mother was art of a feral colony the male lost a bad fight the winter affter my boy was born and was able to be sent to the shelter before that he rued our colony and nebighorhood) anyway affter switching as i had had good experiance with that type of litter previously with a different cat i decided to maje a switch but it backfired one of my yearling males developed a severe URI about 3 days later as soon as i realized it was the litter i went back to the Arm & hammer slide and he got better affter a dose of antibiotics , but the vet said he thought it was the corn in the litter not nessicarily the pine but both can cause issues, with your little one you might think of the breeze system, yesterdays news, or one of the more crystal type litters. wishing you the best of luck wit your fur baby.
 
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czuva

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The pine litter wasn’t dusty, except for maybe when it disintegrated into sawdust after getting wet.

We switched to paper pellet litter just in case. Also got a HEPA air filter.

Our girl is much better now after going through a round of steroids. No longer has elevated resting breath rate.

Hopefully that and the litter keeps her asthma under control!
 

CarmiesMom

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The pine litter wasn’t dusty, except for maybe when it disintegrated into sawdust after getting wet.

We switched to paper pellet litter just in case. Also got a HEPA air filter.

Our girl is much better now after going through a round of steroids. No longer has elevated resting breath rate.

Hopefully that and the litter keeps her asthma under control!

So glad shes doing better and se was getting the pine on her feet abd the scent may have bothered her asthma like with people their asthma can have a verity of triggers myathma is triggered by many things including cigarette smoke, and firework fumes so keep up the good work with her so glad ses better :)
 
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