Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats

by Michael

Oriental Shorthair Cat - this photo by .m for matthijs was added by Michael to show the breed. There is no connection between this cat and the article.

I was informed of Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats by a visitor (Lisa Lyons) to this website who lives with beautiful Oriental Shorthair cats. You can see her post here: Owned By Two Oriental Shorthair Cats. I had not heard of this disease despite building a page on Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats some time ago.

Lisa thought that it was pretty rare in Oriental Shorthair cats. Apparently it also affects Siamese cats, which is unsurprising as they are one and the same cat almost, the Oriental being a "modern" Siamese that has a much wider coat colour and pattern range.

I am not sure how prevalent it is amongst these two breeds; and lets remember that the Siamese is a very popular cat breed.

A site dedicated to this disease (link below) informs us that although we are not sure how commonplace it is, the author of the site feels that it is " fairly widespread". The point she makes is that breeders breed from the same bloodlines (same original cats). On this basis it is likely to be fairly widespread I would have thought.

It is often misdiagnosed and has been in existence for about 30 years.

What are the symptoms?.

The symptoms of Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats include: feeling ill, pale gums, pale ears, slight jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), high white cell count, low red cell count, vomiting frothy bloody fluid, the disease may wax and wane, come and go.

Amyloid cysts damage the liver causing it to bleed. The cat dies quickly. This can produce an incorrect diagnosis but a biopsy shows blood in the abdominal cavity.

The disease is incurable and fatal. Some cats die within 2-3 years.

What is being done?

Research into genetics as this is an inherited disease. A gene marker is being searched for to understand how the disease works and how it can be cured.

Cat owners who suspect that their cats have the disease should go to this website -- link broken May 2013--- and follow the instructions at the base of the page. This will help in the long term to control and eventually eliminate this nasty disease.

Other information - source: Merck Veterinary Manual

The disease also affects Abyssinian cats and a dog breed, Chinese Shar-Peis. The disease generally leads to hepatic disease (liver disease) as mentioned above.

Another condition associated with Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats is hypervitaminosis A. Other signs are anorexia (weight loss), polydipsia (excessive thirst), and polyuria (the passage of large volumes of urine), vomiting, icterus (jaundice as mentioned above), and hepatomegaly (an enlarged liver).

From Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats to Cat Health Problems

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Hepatic Amyloidosis in Siamese & Oriental Cats

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Oct 19, 2011 Amyloidosis
by: Marie

Hi Anon

I left the comment dated 23/1/2010.

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your beloved 14 year old.

Although some of the symptoms are the same as my boys suffered, such as vomiting with blood, weight loss all the information I have read state cats with Amyloidosis do not live beyond 5 years. Certainly both my siamese boys passed away before 5yrs.

Interestingly as you mentioned for both my boys the Vets suspected & tested for FIV results were negative.

I currently have 2 siamese boys - one at 3 years (Alfie) and one 18 months (Oliver) and although we were extremely careful and open to the breeders re: Amyloidosis I have recently had Alfie scanned & blood tests taken to see if there are any early signs. Fortunately the results of the bloods & scan of main organs are normal. I have a couple of reasons for having these done:

1) The scan of (chocolate who passed away) showed a very poor liver, completely covered in "cysts" the vet had never seen anything like it - the "cysts" are thought to be pockets of protein that have attached themselves to the liver.

2) One of the main problems in diagnosis was they didn't have a list of normal blood readings for Chocolate. So when carrying out blood tests when he was ill & some of the results were slightly raised it didn't ring alarms bells bu if they had compared them to a set of previous tests for Chocolate the Vet informs me that they would have been able to identify a problem much earlier and this would save having to put the cat through no end of blood tests trying to find a cause. (I hope this makes sense)

3) Taking the above steps would not stop or cure the disease it would give us more time to try & stabilise the disease. New drugs are coming onto the market all the time although I am not aware of any particular research to help with Amyloidosis (other than mentioned here) I would be willing to try anything - to be blunt you have nothing to loose, the prognosis for Amyloidosis is fatal.

Before Alfie was scanned I booked an appointment to see the Vet (a new guy) on my own. I took along all the info I had on Amyloidosis (which is not much) and went through it with him - he had never heard of Amyloidosis!! It is my belief that
because most cats die very quickly, some just literally overnight,
the cause or diagnosis is not confirmed and therefore Amyloidosis remains, conveniently under the Radar. This certainly suits the breeders but also the Veterinary community who therefore do not have to deal with something they know little or nothing about - it is utterly shameful in my opinion that both communities prefer to turn a blind eye to this horrific disease!

So to date both my beautiful boys are perfectly healthy but I worry constantly and will continue to do so until they re both over 5 yrs.

PLEASE please keep reporting on any new cases or further information on Amyloidosis on the website x

Oct 19, 2011 Response to last comment
by: Michael

Hi..sorry to hear of your cat's ill health and passing away.

You know this disease is not even mentioned in what I consider to be the best and most comprehensive book on cat health: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook.

I refer to this book for information and assistance. I can't add anything therefore. Sorry about that.

The Siamese cat does have a lot of potential to acquire genetically based illnesses. The Oriental SH is the same cat really. It seems to me that this problem originates in breeding. I suspect that breeders know about it but keep quiet but I could be wrong on that.

Good luck.

Oct 18, 2011 ?
by: Anonymous

I recently had to have my beautiful oriental cat put to sleep having been extremely ill and I wonder if this was what he had? He was 14 which is a bit older than other cats mentioned here? But he did have periods of being very unwell and then getting better, until the times that he did seem better were becoming less and less. He vomitted alot, sometimes with blood in the vomit. He had excessive thirst and urination. He lost loads of weight and eventually was just skin and bone with no muscle mass at all, this made it very difficult for him to walk as he had no strength (poor boy). his blood tests showed raised liver enzymes, and very poor kidney function. But I remember when I first got him 5 years ago, his red blood cell count was very low and the vet suspected FIV, which he didn't have. The disease that we are discussing was never mentioned to me by my vet, and I wonder if it is widely known about? He did also have hyperthyroidism and ws on medication for this, but do you think it is possible that he also had Hepatic Amyloidosis? I also still have his mother who is 16 and has hyperthyroidism, but she seems to be ok on her medication? Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Aug 22, 2011 Blood test
by: Lisa Lyons

Sorry to hear about Talal, sounds like he was a true fighter! Mind you, I think anyone that knows the breed would agree that they're all little fighters! 😀 As I sit here now I'm snuggled up to Londo, the full-blooded brother of Orli, whom the original article was written in memoriam. He's coming up for 6 years old now, so that's twice the lifespan his brother had. With luck, Londo has NOT inherited this awful disease!

And like you, I wish there were a blood test, or something that could be used to identify this horrible monster lurking in the shadows.

I pray that both Londo and Talal's sister dodge this, as I don't want to see more of this beautiful breed brought low.

Aug 20, 2011 our Talal's experience
by: Barre

Our usually very healthy CFA registered purebred neutered male seal point Siamese suddenly developed insulin dependent diabetes and hepatic lipiodsis at age 9. He was given an emergency esophageal-gastric feeding tube by which to receive a slurry of Hills A-D q 2h for 4 weeks and started on insulin every 12 hours. What a champion Talal was and he survived for 2 1/2 years with adequate blood glucose control after the amyloidosis became manifest; however, despite best efforts by North FL Vet Speciality DVMs, he died at age 11 from the disease. His full-blooded sister is now 12 1/2 and has no signs of having this disorder. We need an accurate blood test to detect the disorder!

Nov 23, 2010 Thank you
by: Lisa Lyons

I just wanted to thank you for spreading the word about this horrible disease!

Jan 23, 2010 Amyloidosis
by: Anonymous

I lost my beloved siamese boy 4 years ago at age 3.5 years to Amyloidosis. We contacted the breeder at the time to inform her of the diagnosis and she completely denied it. We now another an Siamese a Chocolate point (from a different breeder) who is nearly 4, sadly he also has Amyloidosis, we manage to pick it up early as we recognised the signs, however he will die. In the 4 years the amount of information or research into this terrible disease has not increased. I believe here in the UK that the breeders deliberately keep it under wraps, for financial gain, it would ruin their industry! Although everyone tells me that it is a very rare condition, I do not believe them. There is no way we could be this unlucky (lightening does not strike twice). To the Siamese breeding community please please stop the breeding process and face up to this horrific disease. If you really care for these beautiful animals, you will stop their suffering.

Dec 25, 2009 Thanks
by: Michael

Thanks to the person who made the last comment and provided some useful contact details - appreciated.

I know of a lot of genetic diseases but this one is not referred to in a book on genetic diseases in purebred cats as far as I can see.

Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats by Ross D Clark DVM.

Could you tell us what breeders do to try and eliminate it?

If, as you say, this nasty killer disease has been known "
for years" that is not a very good indicator that breeders are doing a satisfactory job. It indicates that breeders are working within the problem creating cats that are destined to suffer rather than pausing, reflecting and prioritizing resolving the problem.

Dec 24, 2009 Amyloidosis
by: Anonymous

It has been known for years that familial kidney amyloidosis is prevalent in Abyssinian cats and Shar Pei dogs

Muriel Finkel
ASG www.amyloidosissupport.com
Toll Free 866-404-7539
National Organization Member of NORD
www.amyloidosisonline.com - Over 730 have joined

"Don't Take Your Organs To Heaven, Heaven Knows We Need Them Here"

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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