We have mentioned the potential problems, and mentioned that
Somalis Breeders (as a whole) do very careful research into bloodlines and
genetics before any breedings take place to ensure that we do not run into
them.....but what are they?
Genetic problems are problems which are associated with certain
bloodlines and can be passed to offspring, with potentially disastrous results.
One of these genetic problems -- a disease called renal amyloidosis. "RA" as it
is often called is really a misnomer, since the disease can affect any organ;
not just the kidneys. In a nutshell, and very simply put, the disease causes
fibrinous build-up on internal organs, effectively shutting them down. There is
currently no known cure in cats, and diagnosis can be tricky, involving a
special stain and examination of the organs with a microscope during autopsy. RA
does not only affect Abyssinian and Somali cats -- it is found in several breeds
of large and small cats, and even found in humans.
A disease which has been found in certain bloodlines of
Abyssinian and Somali cats affect the blood and the immune systems. Auto Immune
Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) can cause anemia and suppress the immune system.The
immune system becomes defective and produces antibodies which destroy the
bodies' red blood cells. Closely related to this are inherited erythrocyte
disorders such as pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency and osmotic fragility.
A disease which has just been discovered in the cat was
found in a litter of Somalis..... Myelodysplasia is known to affect humans and
can be treated with transfusions, but has not been previously found in the cat
until this time. Not much is known yet about its effect in the cat, but studies
are currently underway. Like AIHA, one of the first symptoms is an anemia of
unknown origin. Costly bone marrow biopsies reveal the anemia is caused by
myelodysplasia. To date, no cat is known to have survived, despite extensive
How does this affect you, the potential (or current) Somali
owner? Breeders research into the potential health problems by studying the
diseases and the pedigrees behind the cats, working closely with veterinarians
and researchers studying the diseases. We believe these problems should
not be perpetuated, and have done our best to ensure that our bloodlines
are free of these potential problems by taking a very conservative approach and
avoiding working with bloodlines with these potential problems. Many breeders
offer a genetic guarantee on their cats and kittens, first because they want you
to enjoy your Somali for years to come, and second because we need to know if
despite our best efforts, something has cropped up and caused problems. In the
event that something were to crop up, we need to know so the parents and other
offspring can be pulled from the breeding program, in order to prevent the
disease from being perpetuated in our cats.