Blind Burmese Brothers in the UK

by Erica Head
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)

My mother, who lives in southern England, has two Burmese cats, one brown and one blue, who are brothers. They have had long and more-or-less healthy lives, with free rein to go in and out at will (she lives in the country). They are now 16 years old, and about 2 months ago one went blind, within the space of about 3 days. He had had kidney trouble and had been medicated for some time. The vet thought the onset of blindness, apparently caused by detached retinae, might have been caused by this.

Then about 1 month later, the second cat went blind, in exactly the same way. The pupils became dilated for a couple of days, and after that the cat was blind. This cat, however, had not had any kidney problems and according to the vet is in otherwise good health. It seems to be the most likely cause for this blindness is genetic.

I wonder if this is a trait characteristic of Burmese, but I don’t see anything on this website to suggest it might be. I would welcome comments on this. By the way, both cats have adapted very well to their condition. They still go in and out of their cat door, wander around inside and out, and jump on and off chairs as before.

Erica Head

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Blind Burmese Brothers in the UK

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Jul 09, 2011
Two blind burmese sisters
by: Mary

I purchased 2 burmese sisters 16 years ago. Wonderful, loving animals. Basically they have had good health. Their names are Natasha and Miranda. Natasha went blind at age 14. It started with a copper colored film over her entire eye. I thought I was imagining this. It would come and go over the course of a few weeks. I told my vet and he said he didn’t know what could do that and that I would have to bring her in when it happened; but of course it always happened when his office was closed. Then her pupils started dilating and it looked like she had two black colored eyes. Of course during these weeks she started missing her jumps and walking into walls. I took her to the only aminal eye specialist in the Baltimore area and she confirmed Natasha was now blind. She said the copper color I was seeing in the eye was blood in the eye chamber due to blood vessels bursting. Once the blood supply to the cornea was cut off then the cornea died causing sudden blidness. She said this was caused by high blood pressure which was confirmed when she took Natasha’s blood pressure using a doppler blood pressure machine (which most vets do not have). Just like elderly humans elderly animals can get high blood pressure and if left untreated can cause blindness and many other serious health problems. To prevent further health issues Natasha was put on high blood pressure medication. It was also determined that Miranda had high blood pressure and I also put her on high blood pressure medication, but she also went blind about 6 months ago. Not sure why. Natasha died on January 31, 2011 just 4 months shy of 16 years. Miranda is still going strong.

Feb 12, 2011
Thank you
by: Catherine

My Tonkinese cat, not even 1 1/2 years old, was just diagnosed with primary glaucoma. In December, she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis and two weeks later, with cherry eye. When I brought her to the opthamologist, she found high pressure in one eye. The surgeon performed surgery for cherry eye and noted spikes in her iop in the affected eye during surgery. My kitty has been on drops to control pressure. When I spoke to the breeder, she had never heard of such a thing in all her 20 years of breeding. This site helped me clear up the mystery. I’ve been in denial, I guess. The cat is so sweet it breaks my heart, but will now concentrate my efforts of finding a surgeon.

Thank you.

Jan 03, 2011
Burmese and eye problems
by: Anonymous

I took in an incredibly sweet sable Burmese a few years ago when she and her brother lost their owner. Sadly they were stuck outside for a night in Utah winter and her brother died from cold, but fortunately a friend took in Molly in hopes of finding her a home. I already had three cats and a dog and was not excited to take on another pet in my small house, but I couldn’t resist the silky soft Burmese sweetness. I have never been of fan of purebred animals because of the genetic problems that can be caused, but after having Molly in my life I don’t know if I will ever be without a Burmese. They are truly special members of the cat family, but they are prone to some health issues, including eye problems. My Molly gat an eye infection and almost lost her eye. Part of her eye ball was actually protruding outside the eye lids and they were amazed at her recovery, it has sunk back to proper shape, although there is a glazed pigment-less spot permanently on her eye. the vet told me that he is a huge Burmese fan, but that eye problems are common with the breed. Molly has always had breathing issues. Her poor small little nose is constantly snotty, and we can locate her in a dark room just by listening to her snort as she breathes. But I will still cherish every sneeze in the face (as my daughter calls it “heavenly snot” ) because Molly has brought so much love to our family. She is the velcro cat because once she is set on top of you (or the couch or the bed etc.) her sharp claws come out and dig in to your clothing (couch, sheets etc.) and you have to pry her off. Everytime. And sometimes by the time you get one foot unstuck the other one is back in. Molly must know that i am writing about her because she just jumped up and has settled herself on my arms and laptop. Purring like the motor that spins the world. : ). One last thing, Molly fancies herself a great pianist. She loves to climb on to the keyboard when it is open and share her musical talent with all of us. And none of the other animals will ever disturb her or pick on her. She is truly special.

Jun 23, 2010
Those Burmese Eyes…
by: Tracy

I see this post was from a while ago, but I’m new to this site and just HAD to write when I saw this. I’m not 100% certain, but am fairly confident our adopted boy Dudley is a Burmese. He carries many of the traits. And I have also found him to be particularly prone to eye infections. I’ve had him for 2 years, and he’s had 3 already. I keep his eye medicine handy and try to treat him as soon as I see him getting “winky,” and I did wonder if something genetic had him prone to this. Now, seeing your info, it seems fairly coincidental at the very least. I’m thinking I will be even more vigilent going forward, to play it safe.

Oct 27, 2009
Your Blind Burmese
by: C. Kennie

Your kitties sound nice and it is great to hear that they are adapting to their blindness. I was also happy to hear that they are 16 years old and have been indoor/outdoor cats for so long. Here, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, I only feel safe if my sable and blue Burmese go out on collar and very ling, light leash. They are always vet checked at least once a year and are both microchipped. Usually our vets here automatically scan for microchips, so if one of them got lost, I could possibly get her back.

I bought an expensive outdoor cat run and then read that it wasn’t to be used on cats who were not declawed on all 4 paws. It went back. I cannot imagine anyone declawing 4 paws. Heck, I don’t even clip my cat’s claws. Sure, they do shred some of my chairs, but I knew that they came with claws and it is okay if they feel the need to use my chairs as scratching posts. (In spite of my 2 large scratching trees and smaller scratching “condo.” ) I am happy that your kitties are well-loved as isn’t that what having cats is all about?

Jun 30, 2009
Blind Burmese
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

As you say this was not mentioned by me as a possible genetic disease in Burmese cats. My source for genetic diseases is a book dedicated to that subject: Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats edited by Ross D. CLark, DVM.

However, your interesting submission, for which I thank you, prompted me to look further. I can’t say I was successful except that I found an article on Primary glaucoma in Burmese Cats – link broken 2012. This may not be relevant but I mention it out of general interest, in any event. The objective of the study was “To document the clinical signs and management of primary glaucoma in Burmese cats”. Even the objective indicates that there is a known incidence of this disease in Burmese cats.

The conclusions were that,”The Burmese cat may be predisposed to primary narrow-angle glaucoma….”

Glaucoma is due to an increase in the fluid pressure of the eye. It can occur suddenly (Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin). The increased pressure can cause the retina to become damaged. It can cause blindness.

So there is a possible connection between a genetically inherited predisposition that is indicated in your story and the research mentioned above and what happened to these brothers.

These are just my comments. Thoughts, no more. A vet is best qualified of course.

Thanks once again for your story.

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