What Diseases Does My Cat’s Breed Get?

After the popularity of last week’s Genetic Diseases of Dogs, it’s only fair the cats get their own page. Information on breed disorders came from the Sydney University LIDA Cats database (no longer publicly available).

I’ve looked through the lists and only included a disease that I think is reasonably common in Australia. Where I’m certain I see a disease which is not reported in that breed, I’ve added it in italics.

Remember, just because a disease is reported in your cat doesn’t mean you’ll ever see it: it’s just something to be aware of, especially when things go wrong.

Problems With The Cat Breed List

Where Are All The Moggies?

Cat owners of the world unite! It’s time to end discrimination against the moggy. These are our most popular cats, and they are not even treated as a breed.

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They don’t even have a name that everyone agrees on. ‘Moggy’ is my favourite. ‘Tabby’ is good, but also describes the colour pattern as seen here in my mother’s cat Speckles. ‘Domestic’ is descriptive but very boring: on that logic we should call human beings ‘domestics’ too.

Moggies are not cross breeds, just a very successful variety. These are the cats that have lived with humans since the dawn of agriculture and they are a distinct type of cat, with a wide variety of colour patterns. Did you know that tortoiseshell cats are always female and ginger cats are often (but not always) male?

Moggies appear more prone to hyperthyroidism than other breeds. Additionally, individuals with white ears or pink noses need to be kept out of the sun to avoid skin cancer. These cats are best kept inside 100% of the time, but if you let them out we advise getting them in for a feed at 10am and only opening the door again at 4pm (and of course getting them in for dinner before dark).

Why Do Some Cats Have No Diseases And Others Have Lots?

Numbers for some breeds in Australia are very low, and some breeds have only been developed recently. This applies to Balinese, Bengal, Bombay, Mau, Bobtail, Munchkin, Singapura & more.

Well-established and popular breeds like Burmese and Siamese seem to get a lot of diseases but it’s probably just that more is known about them.

List Of Genetic Diseases

Please read these explanatory notes first.

Congenital heart defects are quite common in cats (including moggies) but should be no threat to you as a cat owner. These defects are easily heard by a trained veterinarian. A good pre-purchase examination is done by every vet on any kitten who has been vaccinated. That’s one very good reason why you should always choose kittens who have had their first vaccination.

If they haven’t, come to us for a free kitten check straight away.

As with dogs, I found the lists of eye diseases to not be very relevant and have not included these. Similarly, hip & spinal anomalies were mentioned too frequently to be meaningful.

Nephrolithiasis and Urolithiasis are kidney and bladder stones. We regard this problem as having more of an environmental cause (especially food and water strategies) so I’ve omitted these but you can read more by following the link.

Abyssinian 

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency of erythrocytes

Australian Mist 

Balinese 

Bengal 

Birman 

  • Obstructive hair balls

Bombay 

British 

British Shorthair 

Burmese 

Burmilla 

Cornish Rex 

Devon Rex 

  • Subvalvular pulmonary stenosis
  • Patellar luxation
  • Urticaria pigmentosa
  • Extreme self-satisfaction (sorry, that’s just mine)

Egyptian Mau 

Japanese Bobtail 

  • Taillessness

Maine Coon 

Manx 

All of these are defects in the way the tail forms in this breed. Read more about the ethics of Manx breeding here.

  • Rectovaginal fistula
  • Sacral dysgenesis
  • Sacro-coccygeal agenesis
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal dysplasia
  • Tail, stump
  • Taillessness
  • Vertebral anomalies
  • Hindlimb paralysis

Munchkin 

  • Dwarfism

Related: Is it ethical to breed Munchkins?

Norwegian Forest Cat 

Oriental Shorthair 

Persian 

Ragdoll 

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Russian 

Scottish Fold (SH & LH) 

 Read more here about the Scottish Fold breed problems.

  • Dwarfism
  • Ears, folded
  • Osteochondrodysplasia

Scottish Shorthair 

Note the disappearance of these problems!

Siamese 

  • Mitral valve stenosis*
  • Patent ductus arteriosus*
  • Septal defect*
  • Subaortic stenosis*
  • Supravalvular aortic stenosis*
  • Tetralogy of Fallot*
  • Tricuspid stenosis*
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • Pyloric stenosis
  • Intussusception

* all congenital heart diseases – see note at start

Siberian 

Singapura 

Somali 

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency of erythrocytes

Sphynx 

Tonkinese 

Turkish Van 

By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.

Andrew

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