As genetic testing becomes more common and scientists continue to find more ways in which to eliminate genetic conditions so DNA testing has become an important part of ethical and responsible breeding.
There are three main things which should be tested for in Selkirk Rex by DNA testing and two things for which scanning is useful.
DNA Testing ~ Responsible breeders will ensure that their breeding cats are tested for blood group so as to ensure that they do not lose kittens through breeding with incompatible blood groups. A group kittens born to a B group Queen will die if they are allowed to feed from mum during the first 18-24 hours after birth. It is therefore important to test for blood groups to plan matings accordingly or to ensure that kittens will be able to be handfed if doing an incompatible mating for at least the first 18 hours after birth.
All Selkirk Rex should be tested for Polycystic Kidney Disease which is a horrific disease which nearly decimated the Persian breed during the late 20th Century ~ once a pedigree is tested clear on one entire line of the pedigree the subsequent kittens will be PKD normal provided all outcross lines are tested clear also. At Boucles we still test every generation as a precaution at the same time we test for Blood Group.There is a new DNA test available for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (Persian Derived) which is a condition which causes blindness in cats and kittens. As Selkirks have Persians in their development, it is recommended that they are tested for this condition to avoid breeding cats or kittens who suffer from this hereditary blindness. As this test is so new we are working through all our cats to test for this at the moment ~ as of June 2015 our first four cats tested are clear. There is no history of blindness in the lines which we are using to breed from but there have been cases of blindness in some of the outcross lines used in the early days of the breed in the UK and therefore we have taken the step to test now to ensure we will never have this issue in the future.
Scanning ~ Scanning is recommended in respect of Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy and also in respect of other forms of PKD. Scanning and neutering suspect lines will eventually help reduce cases of HCM. As yet HCM is still very much a disease about which we know far too little. Research by the Royal Veterinary College London suggests that over 130 strains of HCM exist in cats (similar to the number in humans). As such it will be very difficult to eliminate ~ there have been very few cases of HCM in Selkirks in the UK but it is something we must always be aware of.
I actively test for PRA(pd) and screen for HCM and scans for the new mutation of PKD and am proud to be at the forefront of genetic health testing for our beloved breed.