Do Bengal cats have breathing problems?

Four desirable Bengal kittens looking healthy
Four desirable Bengal kittens looking healthy. Picture in the public domain as assessed.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Yes, a Bengal kitten might have breathing problems if they suffer from the inherited disease flat-chest kitten syndrome (FCKS) which is similar to but not the same as pectus excavatum (PE). In both conditions the chest is compressed which results in breathing problems for the kitten. If the condition is severe the kitten does not survive. If not, the kitten grows out of the condition and lives a normal life to the best of my knowledge. This is a genetically inherited health issue due to selective breeding. Pretty well all purebred cats have their own burdens to bear on the issue of inherited health problems. It is a cat fancy disgrace. It’s horrible and purebred cats should not have these health problems which are so much part of the breeding process.

I’ll quote the National Kitten Coalition to describe the difference between flat chest kitten syndrome (FCKS) and pectus excavatum (PE):

PE affects the sternum (breastbone) and costal cartilages that connect the sternum to the ribs; FCKS affects the whole rib cage resulting in a dorsoventral (extending from the back to the belly) flattening of the thoracic cavity.

Severely affected kittens may not survive. Pectus excavatum is also known as funnel chest or cobbler’s chest. It is caused by a dipping of the end of the sternum (breastbone) toward the vertebral column (back bone) creating a funnel-like depression midway along the kitten’s body.

A breeder says that FCKS only affects kittens as kitten suffering from the condition are killed by it or they survives and grow out of it.

Other inherited conditions

This is just another inherited condition. There are others such as crusty nose leather called ‘Bengal Nose’ and a sensitive stomach causing smelly poop and diarrhoea. HCM also affects Bengal cats.

Prevalence of thoracic deformities in Bengals

Here is a useful quote from a study on the Bengal cat and chest problems:

Clinical records made during routine vaccinations were compared between populations of domestic shorthair cats and Bengal kittens. An increased incidence (12/244) of thoracic wall deformity was detected amongst the Bengal kittens. Deformities detected were: pectus excavatum (five), unilateral thoracic wall concavity (six) and scoliosis (one). Five-generation pedigrees were analysed for the affected kittens that showed a high degree of common ancestry indicating the likelihood of a familial cause.

Increased incidence of thoracic wall deformities in related Bengal kittens 2012

12 out of 244 indicates a prevalence for these thoracic deformities in Bengal kittens of 5 percent or around 5 kittens in every 100. It is significant but fairly rare.

Dwarf cats too

Separately the dwarf cats via the foundation cat, the Munchkin, are prone to both PE and lordosis which is a curvature if the spine. This is rarely reported but I wrote about this 15 years ago:

Dwarf cats: 2 health problems
Dwarf cats: 2 health problems. Photos: copyright Helmi Flick. Drawing by PoC.

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