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Aside from my breeding cats, I too have elected to home some of the “special” kitties out of personal preference for their personality and/or beauty. Some are key members of the HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) research study. All Donegal Cattery cats have their DNA included in two landmark studies that you can read about on the Available page of the web site. The two oldest heart cats were kept for the study, yet remain here for more than the sake of science. They are loved and cared for as much as any pet can be. I’ll share with you a little about four such amazing cats that became part of my extended family.
CH Donegal’s Irish Crème (aka Irish)
I could have placed Irish, my Himalayan male with intense flame color, at least ten times. He is a cat whose personality steals the hearts of all who meet him. I have a personal friend who is also a veterinarian and she taught him how to give a “high five” with his paw when he wants attention, captured in a photo above. I venture to say that he is my veterinarian’s favorite, jumping up on her lap three days after major surgery. Irish is one of the first diagnosed HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) cats at Donegal Cattery. It was found a month after having a penile urethrostomy (penis removal due to a complete urinary blockage) and as of September, 2012 he is a three year survivor of CHF (Congestive Heart Failure), well beyond the average survival rate of one to two years. His recovery from both his surgery and his heart failure is due to a very astute and skillful veterinarian who is well-trained in performing cardiac ultrasounds and prescribing medications (designed for humans and/or dogs) that have prolonged his length and quality of life. Irish celebrated his 15th birthday with his older sister, Renny, his veterinarian, Dr. Rosemarie Williams, and the office staff in October, 2016. He left this world in December of that year. I was able to tell him that I loved him and that it was OK to go to sleep. He passed away in his bed at home peacefully. Irish remains the “poster cat” for HCM research in Persian cats. His blood sample and that of two other cats from Donegal Cattery are the initial Himalayans subjects for the Persian HCM study at NC State Veterinary University with Dr. Kathryn Meurs. This advanced study involves whole body genome sequencing. Someday, Irish’s name will go down in history as the cat that led to the discovery of the gene or genes that cause HCM in the Persian cat breed. Then a subsequent DNA test can be developed to help eliminate this disease in that breed. That will be an astounding legacy for one tough Himalayan cat! HIGH FIVE, IRISH!
CH InTheWind Peadar Ronan of Donegal (aka Ronan)
I also kept Ronan, Irish’s dad. He was a stunning seal point Himalayan with awesome eye color and became the foundation male for Donegal Cattery. Keeping with the Irish theme, his registered name is Gaelic (Peadar Ronan), translated Foundation Seal. He developed juvenile cataracts in both eyes at just over one year of age and had to retire from his show career. After discovering that three of his offspring by three different females had developed HCM, it was deduced that he was the genetic origin of the disease. As a respectable breeder, I have had cardiac ultrasounds performed on his descendants to retire any positives from future breeding. Ronan, king of the water bowl, was a giant love bug who would climb up to my neck and grip my shoulders with his paws to snuggle. Ronan surrendered to his ninth life and donated his heart to the HCM study at the age of thirteen. The average age of a well kept indoor Persian cat is twelve to fifteen years. So Ronan was certainly no average cat.
CH Donegal’s Irish Mist (aka Misty)
And then there was Misty, a crazy little blue-cream point Himalayan female who had the cutest little butt wiggle when she walked. And I just loved that color split down the middle of her face. Nobody could fly through the air for a toy higher than Misty. The faster you wiggled it, the crazier she pursued it. I would tell people that Misty spoke Vietnamese. Her meow sounded like “inkow.”
Breeders were just beginning to test breeding cats for PKD (polycystic kidney disease) with ultrasounds when Misty reached one and half years old. Ten months was the minimum age to detect PKD with any certainty when using a well-trained sonographer. We were 95% confident using ultrasounds that we could find the positive cats to quell from breeding since it is a highly inherited genetic disease. Unfortunately, Misty was positive, so she was spayed. I kept her because I couldn’t even consider asking someone to take her, believing that she probably wouldn’t make it past two years of age. One kidney had moderate cysts and the other was severe.
Well, Misty fooled me and her veterinarian. She made it to eleven years old sustained on Royal Canin Persian food and distilled water, which is what all of my cats drink. There is a study that was performed on rats that were positive for this disease using potassium citrate as a treatment. The lifespan of the treated rats was much longer than untreated. It is surmised that the potassium citrate slowed progression of the disease. Royal Canin adds potassium citrate for the ph balance of the Persian cats’ urine. I now think that Royal Canin got two bangs for the buck, at least with cats that have PKD.
Donegal’s Raisin’ the Bar (aka Raisin)
Now there’s Raisin, my brown tabby with the “impish” face and a slightly crooked nose. I was hopeful for her as a breeding cat because she carried the chocolate gene. She delivered five kittens in her first litter. With a loss of Raisin’s appetite and little weight gain in her kittens by day three, it was evident that something was wrong. Her veterinarian found the source of the problem. Raisin’s sixth kitten had broken through the uterine wall and had floated into the abdominal cavity. It was too late to save that baby and I just had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t breed Raisin again.
It was the right decision as she later developed hemorrhagic cystitis in addition to her chronic sinusitis. Raisin is now spayed, is an avid fan of dog shows, prefers to live in my bedroom/bathroom suite, and has become what I call a “shower banger.” She takes a running jump and bounces off the glass shower door with all fours. If I’m in the shower, she will hang on to the towel rack on the door and stare at me with huge, wide open eyes. Trying to catch that on camera is next to impossible. Raisin is also staying at Donegal Cattery.
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