One of the most popular purebred cats globally, Persians are prized for their long, beautiful coats and distinct, round faces. They are associated with luxury and royalty, so it’s not surprising that many want to own one.
Unfortunately, this breed also carries more than a few health complications with it. Some of these complications result from their characteristics, like eye and breathing problems associated with their shortened noses. Others are genetic diseases that are more common in the Persian gene pool. If you want a Persian cat, you should be educated on possible health complications so that you can be there for your cat no matter what.
The 7 Most Common Persian Cat Health Problems:
1. Facial Dermatosis
A Persian cat’s long, luxurious coat can be a thing of beauty. However, they are prone to an uncommon disorder called facial dermatosis. This shows as black exudate on their faces and the cause is unknown at this time. The black discharge often collects on their chins, tear folds and tops of the nose. Yeast infections secondary to the problem can make it harder to treat.
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Another type of skin disease that can affect Persians is ringworm. Ringworm is caused by a fungus that can grow in your cat’s fur and skin, causing ring-shaped rashes. Along with the rashes, another common symptom of this disease is hair loss and scaling. Ringworm isn’t fatal to cats, but it can be uncomfortable and difficult to get rid off. It is also highly contagious to other pets and humans. Because of this, ringworm infections should not be taken lightly.
3. Polycystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic Kidney Disease is a genetic disease that is most common in cats with Persian ancestry. Cats with this disease develop cysts inside their kidneys that grow progressively. The severity of the condition varies greatly, and some cats with the disease never experience kidney failure but sadly many do. Signs of kidney disease include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and diminished appetite.
4. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Persian cats are at a slightly higher risk of a heart defect called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This disease causes cats to develop thickened heart muscles that alter blood flow. That adds extra strain on the heart and causes the heart to work less efficiently. Cats with HCM might not have symptoms but are at a much higher risk of sudden heart failure, which can occur at any time. If symptoms occur, they are usually mild such as an elevated heart rate or labored breathing.
Obesity can affect cats of any breed, but in Persian cats, obesity often goes unnoticed because of their long hair and stockier builds. Even if you can’t visually see if your cat is a healthy size, you can still tell if your cat is at a healthy weight by touch and through monitoring. Your cat’s ribs shouldn’t be protruding, but you should still be able to feel them through his fur. Once your cat is eighteen months to two years old and done growing, his weight should stabilize. Occasionally weighing your cat can give you an idea if he is gaining or losing weight. Overweight cats are much more likely to face health problems, including diabetes, heart issues, breathing difficulties, and other problems.
6. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Persian cats have shortened noses, and this often leads to Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. BAS refers to several different issues caused by having a shortened skull. Cats with BAS have difficulty breathing, poor eye and nasal drainage, and symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or gulping air. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and “peke-face” Persians, which have a completely flattened face, have the most severe symptoms.
7. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Among the genetic diseases common to Persian cats is Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This condition causes the eyes to deteriorate with age, starting when the cat is around two years old. Over time, the disease will cause total or close to total blindness. This is a generally rare disease in cats, but one gene responsible for this disease is relatively common in Persian cats and related breeds.
The Persian is one of the oldest and most popular cat breeds, but its popularity has worked against it when it comes to health. The many diseases endemic in the Persian cat gene pool spread most freely when breeders and owners don’t take proper precautions such as routine vet care, genetic testing where available, and lineage tracing. But today, there are more resources available than ever when it comes to breeding and caring for these dignified beauties.
Featured Image credit: Piqsels