This study described the prevalence of thoracic wall deformities (eg, pectus excavatum [PE], unilateral thoracic wall concavity [UTC]) in a group of related Bengal kittens. Medical records were reviewed for 244 Bengal kittens that presented for routine vaccination between 2004 and 2011; records of 1748 domestic short-haired kittens presenting for vaccination in the same period were included as controls. Kittens were diagnosed with PE, UTC, or other thoracic wall deformities via palpation. Radiographs were obtained if kittens were dyspneic. Results showed 12 cases of thoracic wall abnormalities in the Bengal kittens; none were found in the controls. Deformities included PE (n = 5), UTC (n = 6), and scoliosis (n = 1). A complex inheritance pattern seemed likely, along with environmental factors. Underdiagnosing and underrecording were possible pitfalls. The authors concluded that thoracic wall deformities can be more common in a group of related Bengal kittens than in the general domestic short-haired population and that there may be a familial link.

A variety of congenital defects can occur in kittens, and practitioners may not always be familiar with these defects or be comfortable with diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Chest wall defects are among the more commonly seen, and certain breeds (eg, Bengal) may be overrepresented anecdotally. The most commonly mentioned chest wall defect is PE. There is little information on this subject, although one author of this study previously reported on the flat chest defect in Burmese kittens in the UK. Practitioners presented with a kitten with a chest wall defect should consult the available literature in order to counsel owners appropriately, as prognosis is often favorable. —Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline)

Increased incidence of thoracic wall deformities in related Bengal kittens. Charlesworth TM, Sturgess CP. J FELINE MED SURG 14:365-368, 2012.