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Ugly Cat Dies of HCM


The 12-year-old cat named Ugly Bat Boy was a fixture at Exeter Veterinary Hospital, where he would spend most of his time on a warm computer. He was bald over most of his body except for flowing fur on its chest.

Ugly Bat Boy was discovered to have a heart condition last year, and veterinarian Dr. Stephen Bassett said he seemed to be responding to treatment.

“With this type of heart disease, cats can just suddenly throw an arrhythmia and pass, and that’s what he did in his sleep on Saturday night,” Bassett said.

Bassett said Uggs, as the cat was known, continued to get visitors interested in his appearance, even though it had started to change recently.

“People would come to see him because he was hairless, and interestingly, when he was on the heart medication, he was growing more hair,” Bassett said. “He had more hair on his head and his body than he had before.” Uggs likely was at least part or full Devon Rex, being ‘folically impaired’ is normal.

Workers at the veterinary hospital said the cat had a nice disposition and inner beauty. They got so many questions about the cat that they posted fliers explaining that he was normal, just ugly.

The veterinary hospital posted a sign letting visitors know that Ugly Bat Boy died. “People are very upset,” Bassett said. “We see people here repetitively. They know us, we know them and they know him, and they’re saddened by it. He was an entity that touched a lot of people.”


What apparently killed Ugly Bad Boy at a relatively young age was likely a kind of heart disease called feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is by far the most common type of heart disease in cats, and perhaps the most common cause of death in adult and younger indoor cats. Sometimes the symptoms are obvious but for other cats – as witnessed here – that’s not the case,

In cats with this condition, the walls of the ventricles around the heart become thick. However, because the muscle fibers are replaced by fibrous connective tissue (scar tissue), the thicker heart walls do not translate into increased pumping power. In fact, the heart is actually weakened as the affected wall of the heart becomes less elastic.

Lots of  well known cats have succumbed to HCM.

Ricky was a cat, who before YouTube, was playing the piano, even making personal appearances at pet stores and appeared in many TVs – from various Animal Planet Shows to National Geographic Explorer to name a few. Ricky was my cat. In Ricky’s name, in 2002, through the Winn Feline Foundation, I began the Ricky Fund to help raise money to better understand HCM. Such a common disease but without an effective treatment, very tragic.

Pet writer/journalist Andrea Dorn recently lost her agility champion Mewdy Blue in 2013. Agility is an obstacle course typically associated with dogs. but Mewdy Blue was definitely not a canine. When cats do partake in agility, it’s mostly pedigreed cats – but Mewdy Blue was an “ordinary” cat who at six months earned an unordinary distinction as Best Household Pet at a cat show.

HCM doesn’t only hit ugly cats, or famous cats, or talented athletic cats – or pedigreed cats, or heavy cats or skinny cats….while there is a genetic predisposition, HCM can hit any cat. Through the money we raised in the Ricky Fund, a genetic defect for HCM can be predicted with a simple and inexpensive cheek swab test for Ragdolls and Maine Coon cats. But we need to do more – for sure.

Learn how you can help here.


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