What Are Common Health Issues in Bengals?

What Are Common Health Issues in Bengals?

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM

Bengals are prone to a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM, otherwise known as "the silent killer." This form of heart disease is often inherited and may even be recessive or dormant in both parents. The disease can, therefore, pop up after generations of breeding. The condition leads to abnormal thickening of heart wall muscles, related thrombosis (or blood clots), and congestive heart failure. Initial clinical signs include arrhythmias or heart murmurs, which can be detected during auscultation in a physical exam. HCM is diagnosed via radiographs or an echocardiogram.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Cataracts

Both progressive retinal atrophy or PRA and cataracts are two hereditary eye conditions commonly seen in the breed. Retinal atrophy refers to a photoreceptor disorder—the wasting of the photoreceptors of the eyes—and leads to premature blindness. Responsible breeders should test their Bengals for PRA before breeding.

Cataracts are also a common issue; cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes increasingly cloudy over time.

Anesthetic Allergies

Some individuals are sensitive to anesthetic agents, which makes them "high-risk" anesthetic patients. Specialty clinics that are accustomed to handling complex anesthetic cases can often manage your cat's surgery appropriately.

Luxating Patellas

This condition is generally a result of an inherited malformation. Bengals are prone to luxating patellas, and it doesn't help that they are so active. In a healthy knee, the kneecap usually sits in a groove called the trochlear groove. When a knee "luxates," it pops out of place or dislocates entirely; this leads to sudden or prolonged lameness and degenerative arthritis. Luxating patellas can be managed by keeping a cat within a healthy weight range. Otherwise, surgery is often recommended.

Kidney Issues or Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is not a condition specific to the breed, but it is a disease worth noting because it is so common in older cats. Chronic kidney issues are often first characterized by an increase in thirst and urination and commonly present in older cats. Kidney infections and stones put cats at a higher risk of long-term kidney issues; this susceptibility also compounds with age. Your veterinarian can perform diagnostic tests to screen for kidney issues.

Skin and Coat Issues

Psychogenic alopecia or over-grooming causes hair loss in all cats. It is a similar condition to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. The condition is generally triggered by psychological disturbances such as boredom, new household stressors, and similar drivers. Hair loss may also occur from flea allergies, environmental allergies, food allergies, and dermatitis.