Cracker Jack (Jagger) is living vibrantly, despite a diagnosis of mild HCM. As a tiny baby, I knew Jagger would be my pal for life. His spirit revealed its magic immediately, the first time he looked into my heart. There’s something profound about who he is. He has a need to connect, intimately, with every living being in his world. I laughingly tell my children that Jagger is my “good child”. They know what I mean as they feel it too. Jagger has an innocence, curiosity and pureness about him that you must experience to understand. We call him St. Jagger because he is our angel on Earth.
We did a bit of showing with Jagger before he sired 2-3 litters at my home. I neutered him before his last litter was on the ground so that he could run free as my pet. It was months after that I learned one of his sons had early onset HCM. A second son was soon diagnosed. As a breeder who scanned regularly for years without problems, the diagnosis was a lightning bolt to my heart and brain. The kittens came from healthy lines. Their father, Jagger already had three scans. His mother, father and grandparents had even more. We began re-scanning relatives and this is when I learned that my beloved Jagger had what looked like the beginnings of HCM. His parents at five were fine. We then found his maternal grandfather (clear through age 6) was now mildly positive at age seven. The two kittens and Jagger were out of one of the two lovely girls I kept from his lines.
After actively ducking and diving with conservative practices, I had HCM in my lines. It snuck in mildly and didn’t reveal itself for generations. This disease can be elusive and slippery for breeders. The social, emotional and moral dilemmas that are revealed can be profound. The devastation felt after this much time breeding with (mostly) the same lines cannot be articulated. I was frankly traumatized. Getting up, climbing out and moving forward with Cracker Jack and his relatives and their families by my side may be the most courageous thing I will do. I know that work won’t be done for a while as I will likely be caring for several pets with HCM and I’m scared for them. Because of this, the fight to help find a cure for HCM is alive and well in my heart. I’ve have had support from good friends in the sphynx community. I remain indebted to the small handful who kept me going when I had little belief that it could be done.
I know this, in general: you must embrace life while you have it. I feel blessed to have Jagger for as long as I do. I feel blessed for the families who are caring for the cats we raised. I am blessed for those who chose to care for those at –risk for HCM. I am blessed that there will be many who have escaped this disease. I am hopeful that I will be able to work my way through this, still able to provide wonderful companion animals in the future. My friends are the reason and their gifts have been plenty. Until then, I wait to see what time reveals for Jagger and his relatives. I (we) love them deeply, but we will live bravely and happily and without fear. Jagger, his sons, and his grandfather are unaware and I want them to experience everything with an exclamation point. Period.