If you have never owned a specific cat breed, learning about the possible ailments that could affect a certain feline variety is a terrific way to prepare yourself for being a pet parent. When it comes to the Himalayan, this breed has gorgeous long hair and blue-eyed cats with superb temperaments.
Many things play a role in health, such as environmental circumstances, genetics, and happenstance. However, they can run into specific health issues even though they tend to be a relatively healthy breed. Here are a few commonly seen problems that plague the breed.
The 7 Himalayan Cat Health Problems
1. Breathing Issues
|Affected Area:||Lungs and airways|
|Symptoms:||Wheezing, difficulty breathing|
|Treatment:||Sometimes requires vet attention|
Because some Himalayans are a brachycephalic breed, they can suffer from breathing issues. Brachycephalic simply means having a shorter skull, giving them the pushed-in face that we love so much.
While it isn’t typical, breathing issues can occur due to poor breeding or certain genetic predispositions in the bloodline. Other breeds are also affected, like Persians.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome refers to abnormalities in the upper airways of some affected breeds of dogs and cats. These can include:
They can suffer from one or more ailments simultaneously, which will cause a difference in diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms worsen in certain environmental conditions, like extreme heat or humidity. Initially, it might start as brachycephalic airway syndrome and develop into other conditions, so early diagnosis is important.
Typically, this disorder is treatable without much issue. However, if the cat has a secondary health issue, the prognosis can be shaky. Also, age plays a significant role.
Sometimes, this issue requires corrective surgery. If you notice that your Himalayan struggles with breathing that interferes with the quality of life, it’s time to make an appointment.
2. Dental Malocclusion
|Symptoms:||Misalignment of jaw or teeth|
|Treatment:||Usually manageable, sometimes requires surgery|
Dental malocclusions are the misalignment of teeth. It can occur in cats, dogs, and humans, but it’s widespread in the Himalayan breed. These cats can have overlapping teeth or jaw misalignment like their Persian cousins.
As you can conclude, a malocclusion is some deformity of the alignment of teeth. The term occlusion references how the teeth are naturally aligned as they should be. There is not always only one root cause of malocclusions, and sometimes it can interfere with eating.
There are two types of malocclusions—dental and skeletal—both of which cause damage to teeth and soft tissues in the mouth.
Typically, however, this is a tolerable issue that is inconvenient at best—though sometimes it requires dental treatment or even surgery. These options include extraction, moving affected teeth, or surgical space creation.
3. Cherry Eye
|Treatment:||Sometimes requires vet attention|
Cherry eye is a pretty noticeable problem that is visible on the outer parts of the eye. Even certain breeds of dogs, such as bulldogs, can be prone to this condition.
Technically, this is a prolapse of the third eyelid. Cats and dogs each have three eyelids. Two are visible, and one is not. When the third eyelid is visible, it has given out in its usual position, sagging down into the eye.
While it’s not nearly as common in felines as canines, your Himalayan might still suffer from this problem. Diagnosis is usually visual without needing any special testing.
It’s generally easy to recover from without any complications. However, it is an extra cost to consider, although the surgery for this condition is usually straightforward. The veterinarian would take the prolapsed eyelid and suture it back into place.
4. Polycystic Kidney Disease
|Symptoms:||Increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss|
|Treatment:||Diet control, fluid therapy, and prescribed medications|
Polycystic kidney disease is an unfortunate problem that Himalayans can face as a specific breed. It is a disease that causes liquid-filled sacs, also known as cysts, to form around the kidney.
This is one of the most problematic issues your Himalayan might face. Sometimes early detection fails, causing further complications from the effects of the prolonged disease.
When these cysts form in the kidney, it overwhelms the normal cells, leading to total kidney failure. Even in advanced stages, it can be tough to treat, and kidney failure may happen as a result.
If you suspect that your cat is showing the symptoms of polycystic kidney disease, you must take them to your veterinarian right away for analysis and evaluation. Detection can be the cause of life and death for your kitty.
This disease shows up from birth and is detectable at roughly six months of age. So, you should know very early on if your Himalayan suffers from this issue. Luckily, routine vet care during their first year should be able to catch it and treat it as necessary.
However, we must stress that this disorder doesn’t have full-fledged symptoms until cats have advanced some in age, around 7 years.
The best way to avoid this issue is to buy from a responsible breeder who has had parents and kittens tested for the inheritance of the gene. If it is present in cats, you are highly recommended not to breed them to prevent the issue from trailing through bloodlines.
5. Feline Asthma
|Affected Area:||Lungs, airways|
|Treatment:||Avoiding environmental triggers, oral medications|
Breathing difficulties are common with this breed, as we mentioned before. One, particularly concerning issue among Himalayans is feline asthma. Asthma can range from mild to severe, meaning that you may or may not have to treat the problem under veterinary supervision.
An allergen initially causes feline asthma in their environment. The body responds to that allergen as the immune cells try to overcompensate for exposure.
Luckily, asthma in cats is a rare occurrence, affecting between one and 5% of all felines. However, it can be slightly more common in the Himalayan than in other breeds.
This disease is a lifelong condition that may worsen over time. Cats can range from mild to severe symptoms, which sometimes can result in death if they have a failure to receive oxygen for too long. If you’re aware of your cat’s illness, you can put safety measures to avoid triggers.
If your cat has a severe case of asthma, your veterinarian might prescribe certain drugs to eliminate inflammation in the airways.
Because Himalayans can also suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome, symptoms can often be confused, as they are very similar. However, asthma attacks tend to happen in a slightly different fashion. Vet attention can help you determine the root cause.
6. Heart Disease
|Symptoms:||Weight loss, rapid heart rate, poor appetite|
Heart disease is a genuine and necessary-to-treat illness that can potentially be in Himalayan bloodlines. Himalayans can suffer from two different kinds, congenital and onset adults.
Congenital type issues are present from birth. Adult-onset heart disease happens over time due to her constant heart damage and environmental triggers.
While it can be challenging for veterinarians to pinpoint why the onset of adult heart disease, things like age, activity level, and obesity might play a role.
Coughing is one of the significant signs of heart disease in people and dogs. However, cats don’t have that same obvious symptom. But here are some other things you can look out for:
Early detection is critical to stop the symptoms from becoming too problematic. Certain medications might be prescribed to your cat to lessen the effects and improve their quality of life.
7. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
|Affected Area:||Bladder, urinary tract|
|Symptoms:||Frequent urination, painful urination|
In the Himalayans, feline lower urinary tract diseases can be an issue. This can be described as a series of conditions that affect cats’ urinary tract and bladder.
Sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to know what’s going on inside of the litter box. Depending on the color or consistency of the litter, it might not be easy to notice differences in your cat’s urine color. However, felines have multiple urinary disorders that they can suffer from.
One of the major signs is having blood in the urine. Since this is hard to detect unless you’re constantly monitoring, you might want to look out for other symptoms.
Complete diagnosis can be a little bit difficult. Luckily, you can improve your cat’s quality of life with precise management. Your veterinarian will likely run tests on the urine to determine the pH levels and other factors.
Himalayan Quick Facts
Now that you know the major health issues that turn up for the Himalayan, maybe you want to know the breed better.
So, what can you expect in terms of temperament and keeping? Luckily, the Himalayans are said to be very low-maintenance cats. They are very relaxed and calm, friendly with all in the home.
Although, some can be a little bit shy or more reserved than others.
Temperament is always based solely on an individual cat and not an overall breed standard. However, for the most part, this breed tends to be chill and agreeable.
Grooming, on the other hand, can be a different story. Himalayans have lovely long, thick coats that require daily brushing and routine maintenance. It’s good to acclimate your kitten early so that they tolerate brushing, and some will even enjoy it.
Keeping Your Himalayan Healthy
Even though there isn’t much you can do about specific health issues, you can be proactive in preventing and treating illness. Management is key when specific problems cause deformities or imperfections in the breed.
When a kitten is born, it is imperative to ensure that they get the vet attention they need. Early detection can help you provide the right environment and treatment for your cat, and it can also allow you to stop certain things before they turn into more significant problems.
Monitoring your cat’s overall behavior is also a vital thing. Sudden changes or developments can be a real cause for concern. If you notice any changes in physical makeup, temperament, and behavior, taking them to your vet for evaluation and testing is essential.
While you can find many resources online that can point you in the right direction, there’s nothing like your cat being evaluated by a professional. This is especially true if the development seems to affect the quality of life of your cat.
Aside from routine maintenance, diet is insanely crucial for keeping your Himalayans at their fittest and healthiest. Feed them a protein-rich, low carb diet to avoid excessive weight gain.
Hopefully, you are happy to learn that there aren’t a lot of issues that are super detrimental to the Himalayan breed. However, routine care and at-home monitoring are good ways to check the health of your purring king or queen.
Before you even buy, we recommend purchasing a cat from a reputable breeder working with proven bloodlines.
Featured Image Credit: Anne Richard, Shutterstock