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04-12-2008 - Haemophilia in Maine Coon cats

Haemophilia in Maine Coon cats

Richard Brown1

1 39 Gordon Street, Huntly, Aberdeenshire AB54 8EQ

SIR, - On November 11, 2008, a client presented this practice with a five-year-old Maine Coon cat for castration. He duly signed the standard consent form. One hour later the veterinary surgeon performed a routine castration on the tom cat. Around two hours later a member of staff alerted him to an abnormal gathering of blood, approximately 10 ml, in the scrotal area. While this did not seem excessive for a cat weighing 7·5 kg, it was a cause for concern. It was therefore decided to monitor the cat and keep it in overnight and so the vet telephoned the owner to inform him of the decision.

The vet was surprised when on advising the owner of the situation the owner replied that the cat could well be a 'haemophiliac' since other cats related to it were known carriers of genes that were associated with blood clotting defects. He said he would phone the vet back in a few minutes and would then tell him how closely related this cat was to known carriers of 'haemophiliac' genes; and that some research had been performed on this condition by Edinburgh university.

Acting on advice from the 'Dick' vet school, for which the practice is grateful, and the data the client brought in, the cat made a slow recovery over the next few days. The main therapy was modified and scaled down tourniquet pressure bandages, of the style used for calves bleeding excessively, vitamin K, multivitamin injection, antibiotic cover and careful nursing. Fortunately, the cat did not require a drip.

As a result of conversations following this event, the following points may be of value to general practitioners.

  • According to the Feline Advisory Bureau website, 'clotting defects' are known to occur in certain lines of British shorthairs, Maine Coons and a few other breeds.
  • In Maine Coons it is due to deficiency in factor I and factor XI. In other breeds the cause is at a different point of the clotting cascade.
  • In one litter of Maine Coons it is thought that four male siblings all died of postoperative haemorrhage after castration.
  • This 'haemophilia' in Maine Coons may be related to sudden deaths of kittens or poor fertility in adult Maine Coons.
  • While it is routine in many practices to perform 'one off' blood transfusions with dogs with no cross matching, for instance, to save the life of a dog suffering from rat poisoning, this is not an option with cats. They can die if there is a mismatch on the first transfusion.
  • Cross matching cat blood is costly and time consuming. It can cost as much as £200 a time. If you do it 'in practice' under direction it is a long, tricky process.
  • A research paper on the condition in Maine Coons will be produced sometime soon.
  • The vet did notice when preparing the operating site that the skin of the scrotum went red as though scrubbed with sand-paper. This was taken then to be due to over-zealous scrubbing. Now, on reflection, this can be seen to be the first sign of poor clotting.

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