Devon Rex Cats – Name An Inherited Disease That Affects Swallowing

The Devon Rex breed is know to carry an autosomal recessive gene that causes severe disease.  Breeders look for it in young kittens by watching them in the litter box.  Healthy kittens will assume a standard squatting posture and hold it while they empty their bladders.  In affected kittens, their heads will drop while voiding until they contact the side of the litter box.  What is the name of this disease?  


Diagnosis:  Inherited Myopathy (Spasticity) of Devon Rex Cats

Cats affected with inherited myopathy suffer from generalized weakness that worsens with exercise.  They often hold their heads low and walk with an abnormal gait almost like they are drunk.  The smooth muscle of the esophagus is affected as is the skeletal muscle.  Many of these cats will die of laryngeal spasms after a piece of food becomes lodged in their windpipe or esophagus.  To prevent aspiration, feed cats in a vertical position to let  gravity help move the food down into the stomach.  As you can imagine, kittens with this condition have a poor prognosis.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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