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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Demography, heritability and genetic correlation of feline hip dysplasia and response to selection in a health screening programme

Low, Matthew; Eksell, Per; Hogstrom, Kjell; Olsson, Ulrika; Audell, Lars; Ohlsson, Asa


Feline hip dysplasia (FHD) is a debilitating condition affecting the hip joints of millions of domestic cats worldwide. Despite this, little is known about FHD except that it is relatively common in the large breed Maine Coon. We used 20 years of data from 5038 pedigree-registered Maine Coon cats in a radiographic health screening programme for FHD to determine, for the first time, its heritability, genetic correlation to body mass and response to selection. FHD prevalence was 37.4%, with no sex predilection; however, FHD severity increased with age and body mass. Heritability of the radiographic categories used to classify FHD severity was 0.36 (95%CI: 0.30-0.43). The severity of FHD symptoms was also genetically correlated with body mass (0.285), suggesting that selection for a large body type in this breed concurrently selects for FHD. Support for this was found by following generational responses to selective breeding against FHD. Not only did selective breeding successfully reduce the severity of FHD symptoms in descendants, but these cats were also smaller than their ancestors (-33g per generation). This study highlights the value of breeding programmes against FHD and cautions against breed standards that actively encourage large bodied cats.


Feline hip dysplasia (FHD); domestic cats; Maine Coon cats; heritability

Published in

Scientific Reports
2019, Volume: 9, article number: 17164