Objective: To determine the frequency of the mutant pyruvate kinase (PK) allele, haematological parameters and AB blood types of Abyssinian and Somali cats in Australia.
Design: Complete blood cell and reticulocyte counts, DNA PK mutation testing and blood typing were performed in all cats.
Results: A total of 60 cats (36 Abyssinians, 24 Somalis) were included (37 females, 23 males). For the mutant PK allele, three female Somalis were homozygous (affected, 5%), 17 cats were heterozygous (carrier, 28%) and 40 cats tested negative (normal, 67%). Pedigree analysis revealed common ancestry of affected and many carrier cats. Of affected cats, two had regenerative anaemias and all had reticulocytosis (range 64-390 x 10(9)/L; P < 0.001 compared with normal or carrier cats). The only consistent historical sign was lethargy. One affected cat was euthanased 18 months after testing, because of anaemia, neutropenia, anorexia and weight loss. The mutant allele frequency was 0.19 overall (0.29 in Somalis, 0.13 in Abyssinians). All cats had blood type A. The commercial blood typing card method incorrectly identified 12 cats as having type AB blood.
Conclusions: The frequency of the mutant PK allele is high in Australia. Screening for PK deficiency is indicated before mating and in individual cats of these breeds, even in the absence of anaemia and especially when there is reticulocytosis. Although all cats in the present study had blood type A, blood type B is common in these breeds worldwide. Retyping of any AB typed cats by a laboratory technique is recommended.