Understanding Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Bengals

Posted on: 9 June 2015


Bengal cats are beautiful balls of crazy, but they have one big problem: progressive retinal atrophy. It is a relatively new problem that affects Bengals and a few other cat breeds. If you plan to get a Bengal or you have one already, you should learn about this disease before it becomes a potential problem. Your veterinarian can help, so be sure to ask during your next visit.

What is Progressive Retinal Atrophy?

The retina contains rods and cones that both help humans and animals see. The rods "see" shapes and movements. The cones "see" colors.  If the cells in the retina as well as the rods and cones become damaged, then it causes blindness. Progressive retinal atrophy is the slow degeneration of the retina. Your Bengal could be born with perfect eyes, but they will slowly start to degenerate until your cat is blind.

What are the Symptoms of Retinal Atrophy?

Bengal cats with progressive retinal atrophy will start to develop symptoms as young as three months to seven months of age. The first sign is often night blindness. Keep an eye on your Bengal at night. Usually Bengals love to play at night and are very rowdy. If your Bengal stops running about the house at night you should start paying attention to him. Does he hesitate when walking in dark rooms? Another symptom is the pupils dilating and "glowing."

How Can My Vet Help?

There is no cure or treatment for progressive retinal atrophy. Your Bengal will go blind by 3 to 5 years of age no matter how quickly you catch the disease. How can your vet help? For one, your vet can help you catch the disease quickly so you are ready to help your pet deal with blindness later. Veterinarians can also check for the gene that causes this problem. Some cats are carriers while others have the disease. A simple cheek swab test will tell you if the parents might pass on the disease to the baby you want to adopt. Ask the breeder if they did the test or if they would be willing to have your vet test the parents for you.

Could It Be Something Else?

Your vet can also check to make sure the problem isn't something else, like cataracts. Cataracts can mimic retinal atrophy but they are easily fixed. Don't assume that your Bengal has retinal atrophy and do nothing. At the first sign of sight problems, take your Bengal to the vet.