Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Burmese Cat Health Problems: 10 Vet-Reviewed Concerns

Burmese Cat Health Problems: 10 Vet-Reviewed Concerns

veterinarian is holding cute cat Burmese cat

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

As their name suggests, the Burmese cat hails from Burma (now known as Myanmar), where they live along the Thai-Burma border. Today’s Burmese cats can be traced back to one cat transported to the United States in 1930. Once in America, this Burmese cat was mated with a Siamese cat to create the modern Burmese. The United States and British breeders maintain different breed standards, but most registries do not recognize the differences and consider all Burmese cats to be of the same breed.

These cats come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and they have wonderfully funny, friendly, and playful temperaments. Unfortunately, they are also prone to developing a variety of different health problems. Here are common medical issues that current and prospective Burmese cat owners should be aware of.


The 10 Health Problems of Burmese Cats

1. Orofacial Pain Syndrome

Thisdistressing conditiont can occur in the Burmese cats and is thought to be inherited. Affected cats show intense discomfort in the mouth and face and may self-mutilate. Stress can worsen this condition, and it may begin with teething. It is likened to trigeminal neuralgia in humans. Treatment is aimed at pain relief, dental care, and stress reduction.

2. Chronic Renal Failure

This disease develops when the kidneys cannot function effectively enough to keep the body healthy and strong. The kidneys have several functions, but primarily that of removing waste products. Many problems can result in kidney failure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for renal failure, but if it is caught early enough, treatments can help extend the cat’s life and enhance health and happiness.

a burmese cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Irina Borodovskaya, Shutterstock

3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects a cat’s gastrointestinal (GI) system. Chronic inflammation and infiltration of the GI tract with inflammatory cells causes thickened intestines. The thicker it gets, the harder it is for a cat to process and absorb the nutrients they need for good health. Signs of IBD include chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and a loss of appetite.

4. Asthma

Feline asthma affects up to 5% of the cat population, and it seems to particularly affect Burmese cats.1 Most healthcare professionals believe that feline asthma is caused by inhaling allergens that overstimulate the immune system. Once the immune system overreacts to an allergen, antibodies are produced, so anytime a cat inhales those allergens again in the future, an allergic response is likely to happen.

burmese cat catching breath
Image Credit: Yuttana Joe, Shutterstock

5. Diabetes Mellitus

Burmese cats can develop diabetes just like humans can. It happens when insulin is deficient in the body. Obesity and a lack of exercise can increase the risk of diabetes for a cat, as can genetics and pancreatic problems. Signs of diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss with excessive eating, and lethargy.

6. Hypokalemic Polymyopathy

This is a disorder that causes muscle weakness. It is likely an inherited condition in Burmese, but why it happens is not fully understood. Affected cats have episodes of low potassium blood levels, which cause muscle weakness. Signs such as an abnormal gait, anorexia, general weakness in the body, and low head carriage are seen.

burmese cat lying on couch
Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

7. Heart Disease

Both congenital and acquired heart disease can affect cat breeds like the Burmese. Although rare, cats with congenital heart disease are born with a defect in the heart. The most common type of acquired heart disease in cats is called cardiomyopathy. This is when heart muscle tissue thickens or weaken, makings it tough for the heart to contract properly and pump blood around the body.

8. Burmese Head Deformity

This is an inherited condition causing malformations of the skull and jaw. If cats inherit a single affected gene, they may be less affected, but those with two copies of the gene will have birth defects incompatible with life. A genetic test is available to detect these genes.

9. Pica

Pica is the eating of non-food items, and in Burmese cats, this appears to be another inherited trait in some family lines. Burmese will often eat fabric, with wool being a commonly chosen material.

burmese kitten looking sick lying on the carpet
Image Credit: Jai79, Pixabay

10. Gangliosidosis

Burmese cats are more prone to inherit GM2, which causes nerve cells to have difficulty removing metabolic waste from fats. Neurological signs such as incoordination and tremors may be present before five months of age and progress to seizures. Sadly, typically, the cats pass away by the time they are 10 months old.


What to Do if Your Burmese Cat Shows Signs of Any Health Problems

Sometimes, figuring out why your cat might not feel well is easy. For example, if you know that they ate human food they don’t normally eat, they may show signs of gastrointestinal distress. You probably won’t have to go to a veterinarian to figure outthe problems, and you can make your kitty as comfortable as possible until the discomfort passes. You can also work to make sure your cat never again gets a hold of whatever they ate to make them ill.

However, if your kitty seems under the weather or starts displaying weird habits that they never had before, and you don’t know what the cause for the issue could be, it is important to contact your veterinarian and schedule a consultation appointment. Your vet can do tests and utilize your pet’s health records to figure out what the problem is. Don’t allow unknown problems to fester before seeing a vet. Waiting too long for treatment could be detrimental to your pet’s health.


In Conclusion

The Burmese cat is generally healthy, yet there are a few health conditions that they are susceptible to that pet owners should be aware of. Certain health conditions are genetic, so your vet may be able to help you determine if an issue is present at an early age. This will help you ensure that the condition can be properly treated and managed as time goes on. You can also request to see that your intended cat’s breeder has tested for these inherited conditions to reduce the likelihood they will be affected in the first place.

Featured Image Credit: ARVD72, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets