Genetic Disorders in Cats

Genetic disorders are those health conditions that cats acquire due to hereditary. Genes that carry particular health concerns often skip a few generations of kittens and develop in future pets belonging to the similar cat family. The types of conditions that develop are often specific to certain breeds. Just as the breed of the cat determines if the pet is longhaired or short haired, so are certain genetic disorders predisposed to pets. Research also suggests that purebred cats are more likely to inherit genetic disorders than non-purebred pets.

Breeds Genetically Predisposed to Disorders:

  • Burmese
  • Persian
  • Siamese
  • Himalayan
  • Bengal

Other Breeds Susceptible to Genetic Disorders

There are several other breeds that also inherit genetic disorders. Although the types of disorders inherited are fewer, breeds such as Maine coon, Devon rex and Abyssinians develop ophthalmic and bone disorders, among other conditions. It's important to know the various genetic disorders pets may suffer from in the future, in order to monitor any symptoms of disease and take preventive measures to slow the onset of health concerns. There are certain genetic disorders that are most commonly seen in several domestic cats and include allergies to ingredients in food, feline heart disease, diabetes mellitus and cataracts.

Genome Mapping

Research is trying to establish newer techniques to detect the presence of abnormal genes in cats used for breeding and newborn kittens. Since several pets are carriers of the defective gene, even though they don't exhibit clinical symptoms of the genetic disorder, genetic testing helps to determine healthy pets, safe for breeding purposes. In addition, science has established new methods to modify abnormal genes with gene therapy. However, the adverse reactions to gene therapy haven't yet been established and clinical trials are still underway.

Genetic Disorders in Burmese Cats

Burmese cats inherit several gene disorders that include keratoconjunctivitis sicca, ocular dermoids, hypokalemic myopathy and encephalomeningocele. Burmese cats may also develop certain facial and eye malformations.

Genetic Disorders in Persian Cats

Persian cats have a larger number of genetic disorders specific to their breed. They include seborrhea, glaucoma, kidney disorders, hip dysplasia, epiphora and Chediak-Higashi syndrome.

Genetic Disorders in Siamese Cats

Siamese cats suffer from several genetic illnesses such as asthma, glaucoma, malignant tumors of the mammary glands, mast cell tumors and hydrocephalus. Other disorders that may develop include hip dysplasia, strabismus, mucopolysaccharidoses and heart disease.

Genetic Disorders in Himalayan Cats

Polycystic kidney disease, eye disorders such as cataract, alopecia and cutaneous asthenia are a few inherited disorders specific to Himalayan cats.

Genetic Disorders in Bengal Cats

Like Himalayan cats, Bengal cats also inherit few genetic disorders like retinal atrophy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and alopecia.

Tips for Pet Owners

Although research is trying to eliminate genetic diseases through gene modification, the process is expensive and requires more elaborate testing. Pet owners should talk with their vet about preventive techniques or the use of supplements to safeguard cats from known genetic illnesses. Cats suffering from diabetes or urinary tract disorders due to genetic predisposition require life-long diet modification and home care. The type of genetic disorder that develops in individual cats belonging to the same breed also differs considerably.

It's important to conduct a vet check on cats before selecting them for breeding, as healthy cats are more likely to deliver a healthy litter.