Norwegian Forest Cat HCM DNA Research Project



NFC HCM DNA Research Study Being Conducted in Sweden

Announced March 2011


HCM study – please, help!

As you probably know, genetics have already searched for causative mutations of HCM in Maine Coon and Ragdoll cats. One such mutation has so far been established in each breed. Despite this, we still know little about the causes of this disease – we need more research!

A new interesting method for mapping genes that cause diseases in cats has been developed. The procedure is to scan the entire DNA of a number of cats that have the disease, as well as a number of cats who are clear of the disease. The cats that are compared should, initially, be from the same breed. The genomes are then compared to find out what significant differences there are between the two groups of cats. This method makes it possible to determine not only single disease causing mutations, but several. Even polygenes may be found with this method. Several diseases may be relevant for studies based on this method and HCM is one of them.

With the new method we are likely to learn a lot more about the genes responsible for  HCM in our cats. This will help researchers to better understand the mechanisms behind the disease, which in turn makes it possible to determine new strategies and treatment methods for cats with HCM. Hopefully, this will help us prevent carriers of the causative mutation/mutations to develop the disease.

This type of research could help us understand why some breeds may have an early or a late onset of HCM compared to other breeds. Furthermore, this may help us understand why some cats appear to have a more aggressive form of the disease than other cats with HCM. We have a lot to gain from this type of research, since it could make it possible for us breeders to, more efficiently, breed away from a problem based on genetic testing of our cats.

The PawPeds team organising the health program against HCM and researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, Sweden, are now using the registry of the health program in order to find cats suitable for the study. What we need is blood samples from minimum 50 cats with an obvious HCM diagnosis and 50 cats that are definitely clear of the disease, these cats should be as old as possible. In total we need samples from at least 100 cats. We hope to obtain enough samples from cats that have tested clear of HCM at an age of 6 years or older.  Letters have been sent to the owners of cats in the Pawpeds database that qualify for the study.  If your cat is not in the database, you can still participate!    Just see instructions below on how to submit samples for the study. 

In addition to this study, we are working with Dr Kathryn Meurs in the United States to indentify genes that cause HCM in the Norwegian Forest Cat. Dr Meurs currently works at Washington State University on the Norwegian Forest Cat HCM DNA Research Project and will be transitioning to the University of North Carolina in June of 2011 where she will continue her research. Since the Norwegian Forest Cat is more common in Europe than the US, Dr Meurs needs our help in getting blood samples for this study. She is looking for Norwegian Forest Cats over 8 years old that are negative for HCM as well any blood samples of Norwegian Forest Cats who are positive for HCM, regardless of age. If there is enough DNA in the blood for both studies, we will send part of the DNA to Dr Meurs on your behalf along with any documentation she requires such as the pedigree information on the cat.

Instructions for sampling of blood:

3-4 ml EDTA blood is needed. Can be shipped at room temperature, but tube needs to be stirred at sampling to avoid coagulation. The identity of the cat should be checked and certified in the protocol by the veterinary. Please, mark the tube with the full registered name of the cat, as written above.


Important, Please Read: Statement on HCM screenings by non-participating Pawpeds Health Program Cardiologists:


You may participate in the Swedish NFC HCM DNA Study even if your cardiologist is not participating the the Pawpeds Health Program.  However, it is advised that you ask your cardiologist to join the Pawpeds Health Program. 


There is no cost involved in this, the focus is more on information gathering such as a copy of their resume and information on the equipment they use for screening.    If your cardiologist is interested in becoming part of the Pawpeds Health Program, please send an email to Misha Peersmans at and she will contact him/her to discuss next steps.  Please note that the Pawpeds Health Program prefers cardiologists however if your radiologist has additional training and/or expertise with heart disease, they may qualify to participate in the program.   If a radiologist is interested in participating, please follow the same process and they will be considered as well.  

It is highly recommended that you ask your cardiologist/radiologist to become part of the Pawpeds Health Program because if there are any unknowns that come in on your results and the cardiologist/radiologist is not part of the Pawpeds Health Program, there is a possibility that your samples will not qualify for use in the study due to missing or unknown values.   By asking your cardiologist/radiologist to participate, we will eliminate the inability to read the results submitted. 


Please also note that if your test results are submitted for this study, they will not be shared in the public database on Pawpeds.  As an extra precaution, we ask that you mark “Not for Public Use” on the form.  If you do wish to share these results, please send them directly to Pawpeds.  More information on this process can be found at


Send to:

Prof. Jens Häggström (Biobank)

Kliniska Vetenskaper

Kirurgi & Medicin, hund, katt och andra smådjur

Box 7054

SE-750 07  Uppsala


We would appreciate it if you could let one of the people listed below if you can and want to participate in the program. This will help us to keep track of what is on its way and how many more cats we need to track down.

If you have any questions you are welcome to contact us:

Melissa Alexander, 

Åsa Ohlsson,

Ulrika Olsson,

Kind regards,

Ulrika Olsson (PawPeds), Åsa Ohlsson (PawPeds), Melissa Alexander (NFC HCM DNA Research Project), and Prof. Jens Häggström (SLU)


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