Narrator: This is Science Today. The most common heart disease in domestic cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes an excessive thickening of the muscle in the heart's left ventricle. Now for the first time, researchers at the University of California , Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have helped identify the gene mutation responsible for the disease. Dr. Mark Kittleson says their study focused on Main Coon cats.
Kittleson: Actually, it affects a lot of different breeds and so Main Coons kind have gotten the bad name because we've studied them – unfortunately!
Narrator: Since it is in most breeds and it takes time to develop, the disease is particularly problematic.
Kittleson: The problem in the past is that we've screened for the disease via cardiac ultrasound, echo cardiography, but most of the cats, by the time they have disease, had already been bred. By being able to look for the mutation, we're able to take a relatively young cat, take a swab of cells from inside the mouth and subject that to a mutational analysis.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.