The rising popularity of flat-faced cat breeds has led to the continuous breeding of these feline friends. Although most are a perfect family pet, they tend to come with a predisposition to certain health problems. These problems are all linked to the way the breeds are ‘designed’ – a short, flat, squished face.
These health problems can include eye inflammation, breathing difficulties, skin infections and trouble eating. Due to their increasing popularity, there are many breeders who are deliberately controlling their breeds to have flatter faces which in turn increase the chance of serious health problems and a life of potential suffering. If you are thinking of purchasing a flat faced breed, be sure to know of potential health risks and what you can do to help.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
This relates to a number of upper respiratory health problems found in flat faced breeds. Many breeds will often suffer from partial obstructions in their nostrils, an overly long soft palate, or collapse of the voice box. They also tend to have an abnormally small trachea which will create breathing difficulties throughout their lives.
When it comes to spotting the symptoms of potential breathing difficulties in your cat, there are quite a number to look out for. They include:
- Noisy breathing when inhaling
- Frequent panting
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Coughing and gagging
- Inability or reluctance to perform physical activity
- Open-mouthed breathing or panting
If you suspect your cat is suffering from brachycephalic airway syndrome, it is best to seek your vet’s advice as soon as possible. The vet can do two tests that will determine whether they are suffering from the condition, which will show an overly long palate or a collapsed trachea or larynx.
Other possible outcomes could be an allergic reaction which causes the airway to swell or a possible foreign object causing a blockage.
Unless there are visible signs of distress, treatment is not really necessary. However there are some things that owners can do to help alleviate the symptoms. During warm, humid weather, it is best to keep your cat in a nice cool spot. Also try to live somewhere that is free of allergens as much as possible as these can tend to swell the airways and cause problems.
If there are clear signs of suffering, you vet may choose to perform a procedure that can consist of either widening the nostrils or shortening the palate. They may also do some additional procedures that can benefit your cat in overcoming these health problems.
Many flat faced cats live a long and happy life without any surgical attention whatsoever. However it is important to keep a close eye on your pet as serious problems with their airways can happen in no time at all. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your feline friend, consult a veterinarian immediately.