Do Persian cats suffer from health problems? Well, yes and no. You can read about them here. But don’t make the presumption that Persian cats are all automatically unhealthy – they are not. It really depends in my opinion on the breeders (if you buy from a breeder) and how they deal with the health issues raised here. And also we should remember that the Himalayan cat breed is simply a pointed Persian, and the Exotic Shorthair is a shorthaired Persian, so what is said here applies to these cat breeds too.
The difference between Ultra Persians and Traditional Persians is the effect breeding has had on their facial appearance and underlying bone structure. They have a “brachycephalic” skull – short and round with a flat face. See: cat head shape for the range of shapes of different breeds. See also a discussion on the change from trad to extreme. So, in answer to the question as to whether the Traditional is more healthy than the Ultra, the answer is “yes” (that doesn’t mean all Traditional Persians are more healthy). As mentioned, this is because of the health issues associated with the “Pekingese” look of the contemporary Persian cat (as the CFA described it in 1969 – the dog equivalent is the Pekingese). These issues are breathing and sinus problems and, as described on this page, tear duct overflow.
Other health problems caused by this unnatural head and face are “abnormal alignment of the teeth, and impaired respiration….compaction of the teeth….overshot lower jaw”1. Although not really a Persian cat health problem, the very thick, dense and long coat requires “a great deal of daily care..”1. If not health problems could ensue. This last point could apply to traditional and extreme cats.
In addition brachycephalic cats such as the Persian and Himalayan are prone to respiratory infections because they have less area for the protective muccociliary blanket. This is a mucous membrane which lines the nasal cavity tapping bacteria and foreign bodies. It is the first line of defence against infection.
Update Sept. 2010: Richard lives with a 3 month old ultra Persian and refers to his problems with Persian cat health problems: My Little Magpie.
|Important: please go to the base of this page to see the sources of this information, which discusses potential Persian cat health problems. I only use quality, authoritative and informative sources.|
Update March 2011: Persian cats have a predisposition to cancerous eye tumors and basal cell carcinomas that are malignant – see Cat Skin Cancer.
Persian cat health problems can take the following form, nostril constriction, cherry eye, tear duct overflow, dental malocclusions, polycystic kidney disease, entropion, and seborrhea oleosa.
An inherited disease exists within the Persian cat breed. The disease is called Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). It causes blindness. It affects other mammals including humans. It is early onset in Persians. Read about Bengal cats and PRA.
Below, I focus on two health issues, polycystic kidney disease and tear duct overflow as common Persian cat health problems.
PKD1 Quick read reference Persian cat health problems
|PKD1 Polycystic Kidney Disease|
|PKD1 has gone unnoticed for many years and has spread throughout the Persian breed.|
|In Persians, the condition has been shown to be inherited as a single autosomal (any of the chromosomes other than the sex-determining chromosomes) dominant gene|
|It is estimated that over 37% of Persians have PKD1, a breed that accounts for nearly 80% of the cat fancy.|
|PKD1 is most common in the Persians and breeds that are related to Persians or have used them in breeding programs|
|Other breeds may have inherited PKD1 from an accidental use of either a purebred or random bred cat that had the heritable form of PKD1|
|Generally, 50% of PKD1 positive cats’ offspring will inherit PKD1|
|It is slowly progressive disease|
|It shows up later in the cat’s life at on average 7 yrs of age – a late onset renal disease|
|The cysts in the kidneys are in existence from birth and become visible early in life|
|It results in kidney enlargement and dysfunction|
|The cysts grow and enlarge the kidney resulting in kidney failure|
|Kidney failure is certain if and when the cysts grow|
|PKD is most easily diagnosed by ultrasound, which can identify the disease very early in its course.|
|When carried out by experienced personnel using proper equipment, ultrasound diagnosis is 98% accurate after approximately 10 months of age.|
|What can be done? |
|Greatly reduce this frequency by using ultrasound screening (and now DNA screening) methods and improved breeding practices (see below).|
|Which cats should be tested? |
|British Shorthair, Persians, Exotics, Scottish Fold, Himalayans and Persian out-crosses only|
|What can owners and breeders do? |
|Testing for Persian PKD1 can be performed as early as 2 weeks of age.|
|Cat owners will be able to collect their own samples, without a veterinarian.|
|Wait 60 minutes if the cat has been eating, drinking or nursing before sampling.|
|The swabs are stable at room temperature indefinitely. They can be shipped to any laboratory offering the test worldwide. Regular post can be used.|
|the contacts page of Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is:- http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/contacts.html|
|Breeders should visit Dr Lyons’ Website for advice on dealing with this disease and to take part in a survey: |
Also visit CFA website.
|Experts conclude that Breeders need to work with scientist to reduce the occurrence of this disease through a breeding programme. I am sure this is happening as this is clearly one of the exotic Persian cat health problems.|
|For Genetic Diseases in Persian Cats generally, please see this page: Persian Cat Inherited Diseases|
Feline Kidney Care Kit – Cat – $ 89.95
Kidney Care Kit with Drinkwell Pet Fountain and NHV Tripsy: Drinkwell Pet Fountain provides the hydration your cat needs while Tripsy helps control infections, reduce irritation caused by cat kidney stones and acts as a diuretic.
Tear Duct Overflow
Tear duct overflow can occur in any breed of cat. However, because of the very flat nature of the face of the exotic Persian cat, additional causes for the failure of tears to drain away are presented. Here is a quick read overview of one of the potential Persian cat health problems.
|Tear Duct Overflow|
The abnormal overflow of tears due to overproduction of tears or poor drainage of tears. The tears overflow onto the face.
What causes the overproduction?
What obstructs drainage?
Several possible causes, the ones listed specifically relate to the peeked Persian and Himalayan breeds:
What are the symptoms?
Persian cat health problems – Updates 7th May 2009:
I have mentioned genetic diseases in purebred cats above. It is common knowledge that the Persian as a purebred cat has a higher incidence of health issues associated with genetic inheritance. PKD is one. Here are some more. These are labelled as “recognized medical problems” associated with this breed by Ross D. Clark DVM in his book, “Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats”:
Persian cat health problems – Sources other than as stated above:
Information about Persian cat health problems has been carefully researched from the following sources.
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