feline breeding

Genetic Disorders in Cats


Genetic disorders are health conditions that are hereditary. Genes that carry particular health concerns often skip several generations of felines and develop in future pets belonging to the cat’s family. The types of conditions that develop are often breed-specific. Just as the breed of cat determines if the cat is long haired or short haired, so are certain genetic disorders predisposed to pets. Research suggests that purebreds are also more likely to inherit genetic disorders than non-purebred pets.


Breeds that are genetically predisposed to disorders:

  • Burmese

  • Persian

  • Siamese

  • Himalayan

  • Bengal


Genome Mapping

Genetic testing helps to determine healthy pets safe for breeding purposes. Research into newer techniques is trying to detect the presence of abnormal genes in cats used for breeding and in newborn kittens. Since several pets are carriers of the defective gene, even though they don’t exhibit clinical symptoms of a genetic disorder, genetic testing helps to determine pets safe for breeding. In recent times, science has developed a new methodology for modifying abnormal genes with gene therapy—however, clinical trials are still underway.


Genetic Disorders in Burmese Cats

Burmese cats inherit several gene disorders such as: keratoconjunctivitis sicca, ocular dermoids, hypokalemic myopathy, and encephalomeningocele. Burmese cats are also prone to developing certain eye and facial malformations.


Genetic Disorders in Persian Cats

Persian cats inherit many more genetic disorders for their breed, ranging from: seborrhea, glaucoma, kidney disorders, hip dysplasia, epiphora and even Chediak-Higashi syndrome.


Genetic Disorders in Siamese Cats

Siamese cats inherit several genetic illnesses such as asthma, glaucoma, malignant tumors of the mammary glands, mast cell tumors, and hydrocephalus. Siamese cats are also prone to developing hip dysplasia, strabismus, mucopolysaccharidoses, and heart disease.


Genetic Disorders in Himalayan Cats

Himalayan cats inherit polycystic kidney disease, eye disorders such as cataract, alopecia, and cutaneous asthenia.


Genetic Disorders in Bengal Cats

Like Himalayan cats, Bengal cats are less prone to inheriting as many genetic disorders, such as retinal atrophy.


Other breeds prone to 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 is pertinent to the various genetic disorders pets may suffer from in the future in order to monitor any symptoms of disease and to take preventive measures to slow the onset of health concerns.


Tips for Pet Owners

Although gene modification is trying to eliminate genetic disorders, the process is expensive and requires elaborate testing. Pet owners should talk with their vet about preventive techniques or the use of supplements to safeguard felines from known genetic illnesses. Cats suffering from diabetes or urinary tract disorders due to genetic predisposisions require lifelong diets and home care.

It is important to have your vet check on your cat before selecting them for breeding, as the healthiest of cats are more likely to deliver a healthy litter.

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