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Home > Cats > Russian Blue Cat Health Problems: 11 Common Concerns

Russian Blue Cat Health Problems: 11 Common Concerns

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Dr. Tabitha Henson

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If you’ve been looking to adopt a kitty into your home and have decided upon Russian Blue, you can look forward to a sweet, gentle new family member who loves to cuddle and play! You also have a lot to learn about your new feline friend. Like, did you know Russian Blues are extremely intelligent? That means you’ll need to keep them occupied with lots of games and toys that let them use those smarts.

Other things you’ll need to know about your new pal include how to feed them properly, keep their coat looking beautiful, and what health concerns might occur.

When it comes to the health concerns part, we’ve got you covered with this list of the 11 common health problems Russian Blues might face.


The 11 Most Common Russian Blue Cat Health Problems

1. Asthma

It might be surprising, but cats can suffer from asthma just like us. This respiratory illness affects approximately of all cats, though it appears later in life, as most felines are diagnosed between the ages of 4–5 years. It’s thought that asthma occurs in cats due to a certain allergen they inhale which causes a reaction. After being inhaled, this allergen causes antibodies to activate, which in turn start inflammation in the immune cells. The result is narrower airways and a more difficult time breathing. If you see signs you think could be asthma-related, you’ll need to ask your vet to do tests for a proper diagnosis. The good news is cats can be treated for asthma with corticosteroids and bronchodilators!

Signs of feline asthma include:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Vomiting
russian blue cat on scratcher
Image By: Khairil Azhar Junos, Shutterstock

2. Atopy

When we deal with pollen and dust allergies, we typically get itchy eyes or start sneezing a lot. In felines, these allergies can result in itchy skin—or what is known as atopy. You’ll usually find this itchiness occurring on the face, ears, legs, and stomach. You’ll also find that atopy doesn’t normally begin showing up in cats till they are between 1–3 years old (though it can happen at any age!). If your cat has suddenly developed a need to scratch constantly, there’s a good chance it’s atopy, so have a vet check them out. Just like with humans, there are several available treatment options for these types of allergies, including medication and allergy shots.

Signs of atopy will include:
  • Excessive licking of a certain area on the body
  • Rubbing at the face or ears
  • Reoccurring ear infections
  • Red skin lesions
  • Thinner hair in infected areas

3. Conjunctivitis

Yes, cats can get pink eye too! Although it isn’t exactly the same as what humans experience, it’s pretty similar. And only other cats can get conjunctivitis from cats, so don’t worry that you’ll contract it! Pink eye is when the mucous membrane of the eye becomes red and inflamed, and there are several reasons it could show up in your pet. Causes include viral or bacterial infections, a scratch on the surface of the eye, and allergies. Treatment will be determined by what’s causing the conjunctivitis, but it could include ointments for the eye, antibiotics, eye drops, or anti-inflammatories.

Conjunctivitis signs to look for include:
  • Red, inflamed eyes
  • Teary or runny eyes
  • Lots of squinting or closing of eyes
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Swelling
russian blue cat
Image Credit: moonsword, Pixabay

4. Diabetes

You’re likely familiar with diabetes, but you might not have been aware that felines can develop it. Even if your cat doesn’t have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, they can still get it if they eat poorly or become obese. Keeping your pet active and refraining from overfeeding them will go a long way in preventing diabetes from occurring! If you suspect your pet is diabetic, you’ll need to speak with your vet about getting a diagnosis and further steps. Insulin may be required, but diabetes can also be managed with diet and weight loss.

Signs of diabetes include:
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Losing weight with no diet or appetite changes

5. Feline Aortic Thromboembolism (FATE)

One of the more common heart problems cats are diagnosed with is feline aortic thromboembolism (or blood clots). The “aortic” in the name comes from the fact that the clots tend to get stuck right past the aorta. Because the aorta is responsible for getting blood from the heart to the rest of the body, this is particularly bad. These clots can be fatal, so if you see any of the symptoms listed below, you’ll need to see your vet quickly. If you get it early enough, your cat may be able to recover. One other thing to note is if your feline friend has already been diagnosed with heart disease of any kind, it would be wise to ask about medication that can prevent clots from happening in the first place.

Signs can include:
  • Distressed crying
  • Pain in the hind legs
  • Dragging the hind legs behind them due to paralyzation
  • Hyperventilating
Russian Blue
Image Credit: VS_star, Pixabay

6. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Most felines carry feline infectious peritonitis (a coronavirus) in its dormant state. However, sometimes this virus goes through specific mutations, which lead it to turn into FIP. Having FIP is fatal, as it leads to fluid build-up in the abdomen or chest, which harms blood vessels. And it has no cure. Purebreds are more at risk for the disease than non-purebreds, so if you purchase from a breeder, make sure to ask whether FIP runs in the kitten’s family.

Signs can include:
  • Fever that fluctuates
  • Lethargy
  • Affected appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid retention in the abdomen or chest
  • Eye inflammation
  • Difficulty breathing

7. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)

As the name suggests, FLUTD isn’t a disease but a category of diseases. These diseases affect the lower urinary tract of a cat (so the bladder and urethra). Diseases under this umbrella can include blockages, interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and more. In particular, Russian Blues are thought to be more prone to bladder stones (or mineral formations that build up in the bladder because the body isn’t correctly processing them). All diseases considered FLUTD tend to have similar symptoms, so your vet will need to test to discover the exact cause of your cat’s symptoms. Once that is determined, they can decide upon the best treatment.

FLUTD signs include:
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urinating more often
  • Only urinating in small amounts
  • Blood in urine
  • Excessive grooming of the genital area
Russian Blue cat with green eyes
Image Credit: Popova Lena, Shutterstock

8. Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid is responsible for several bodily functions in cats, but sometimes the thyroid gland becomes overactive. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Typically, this hits when cats reach their senior years (10–12 years of age), and the extra hormones the thyroid begins pumping out can make your cat quite ill. If not diagnosed early enough, it can be fatal as it leads to heart and kidney failure, as well as blood clots. If caught sooner rather than later, it can be effectively treated with drugs or surgery. And since the bloodwork that catches it is routine, it should be found quickly (so long as you are taking your cat in regularly for wellness checkups).

If you have a senior kitty, you’ll want to watch for these signs:
  • Tachycardia
  • Increased appetite & thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Being more active
  • Unkempt coat

9. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed heart diseases in felines. It causes the walls of the heart to thicken, leading to blood clots and, often, heart failure. While there isn’t a cure for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it can be managed with medication if it’s caught soon enough. Because it is an inherited disease, you’ll need to double-check with any breeder you’re considering buying from to ensure it doesn’t run in your potential kitten’s family.

Signs don’t usually show up until the later stages of the disease:
  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Lethargy
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
Russian blue cat striking a pose
Image Credit: Rob Rye, Shutterstock

10. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease in felines can be either acute or chronic; acute is the result of something immediate, such as an infection, blockage, or ingestion of poison, while chronic is a result of cats aging. This means senior felines are at higher risk of kidney disease (though it can occur in younger kitties). If you think your cat is displaying symptoms of kidney disease, your vet will need to do a host of tests to determine which kind it is. Then, depending on what they find, they can treat it with various methods, including medication, diet changes, and surgery.

Kidney disease signs will include:
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Peeing more often
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry coat
  • Brown tongue
  • Bad breath

11. Obesity

The Russian Blue does love its food, so you’ll have to make sure you aren’t feeding them too much (don’t give in to those pleading eyes!). If they get their way, they’ll easily become obese—and obesity is an unfortunately common problem amongst felines. Gaining too much weight by overeating and not staying active leads to your cat having trouble moving around and not being able to do as much as they once could. Worse, though, obesity can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and more. If your favorite feline seems to be packing on the pounds, have a chat with your vet about how you can help them lose it—most likely via diet changes and more exercise.

Signs of obesity include:
  • Overeating
  • Gaining weight
  • Less moving about
  • Tired more often
Russian Blue Cat
Image Credit: Sergey Okhrymenko, Pexels


Final Thoughts

Overall, the Russian Blue really is a healthy cat with few genetic predispositions to illnesses, though they are at more risk for bladder stones and obesity. However, all felines may develop certain diseases like the ones listed above. This doesn’t mean your Russian Blue will definitely get any of these; this list is simply health concerns you should be aware of and keep an eye on. Don’t stress over health issues popping up, though. Just enjoy your time with your newest family member!

Featured Image Credit: slawomir.gawryluk, Shutterstock

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