Siamese cat health problems are pretty extensive I am afraid to say. Please stay with this page because it is far better than any other on the internet on this subject. Sorry if that sounds arrogant but if you read the page I hope that you will agree that I am correct. And Siamese cat breeders should not be upset. I hope you’re not. The intention is to be fair and to provide as much information as possible, not to upset people. The research is sound and the sources are excellent.
Photo above: as far as I am aware this Modern Siamese in a rescue center was and is healthy – photo copyright ciao-chow. The photo is reproduced under a creative commons license and in accordance with the license.
Siamese cat health problems is mainly (but not entirely – see updates) a discussion about the breeding of the “Modern Siamese” and whether during the development of the contemporary version of the Siamese cat health problems were developed at the same time due to breeding too closely (inbreeding).
Siamese cat breeders drafted a breed standard based on what they thought the cat should look like. Having studied Siamese cat history carefully, it is my considered view that the breeders decided on a starting point for the breed standard that was ill conceived.
Early descriptions of the Siamese cat indicated that she was smaller and finer boned that the domestic cats that Europeans were accustomed to. The 1911 Encyclopedia referred to a long head. It is my contention that the imported Siamese was indeed finer boned than the domestic cats in Britain but still of “normal” appearance. In other words it is a question of perception and relative sizes. This is because the British non-purebred shorthair does have quite a square face and is quite stocky.
Having decided that the Siamese cat needed to become more elegant the breed standard was geared to produce the abnormal appearance of the Modern Siamese we now see. The starting point was incorrect (i.e. the original Siamese was not thin and long headed) and the breeders then overshot the mark in their desire to turn out winning show cats.
In breeding for winning show cats tight breeding took place. This is in fact admitted by Jeanne Singer in the 1979 CFA Yearbook. Although her article is primarily written in defense of the Modern Siamese appearance and health (as it would be because she wrote the breed standard and some people were obviously concerned) she says that in the past she has seen several “prominent” Siamese lines vanish due to infertility brought on by inbreeding. These lines that were inbred were clearly important lines. Reduced fertility is a sign of inbreeding.
Jeanne also says that breeders and judges went through fads and phases when certain elements of the cats appearance was “in fashion”. Without being overly critical (I hope) that doesn’t sound like the best of attitudes to breeding a cat to me.
Jeanne also refers to a specific disorder that manifested itself in the 1950’s (the time at which the change in the appearance of this breed began in earnest). Siamese cat health problems came to light in some cats that were genetically transmitted. In other words the disorder was due to a “defective” gene. This disorder was undiagnosed as far as I can see. The cats suffered a metabolism disorder. They were weak, with poor body tone and would pick up infections easily. Poor immune systems would seem to be one of the problems.
Jeanne rightly says that breeders do not need to use lines with known weaknesses. To me this implies that some breeders have used lines knowing there was a health problem in that line in the hope and expectation that it would produce a show winner. This is probably to be expected in the competitive sharp end of the cat fancy. But it must not be that way.
Inbred cats display deficiencies more frequently as the bad genes are more frequently encountered. Poor immune systems to me indicate inbreeding. On the Modern Siamese cat page I have mentioned the story of a Siamese cat lover’s Siamese cat health problems. She “bought” several cats that died young (aged under 10) through poor immune systems.
Please don’t get the wrong idea. What I am saying is that in my opinion there is evidence that the Modern Siamese is less healthy than the Traditional due to excessively close breeding. Of course it is to be expected that breeders will be cautious about talking about Siamese cat health problems as they run businesses. The Siamese cat has, according to Dr Clark (Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats) the highest number of genetic diseases of all the purebred cats. See Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats. It seems that the Modern Siamese is susceptible to upper respiratory infections (URIs) prior to adulthood. There are a variety of URIs. Some are just colds that pass and some can be far more serious. For a young cat some URIs can be killers and very difficult to shake off. This can lead to heartache for the person caring and a miserable life for the cat (and it hurts thinking about that). On a practical note it is also very expensive. Read about cat health issues generally or URIs in cats by clicking on these links.
The following were compiled from various sources over time:
— It also seems that the Siamese (I cannot differentiate between Traditional or Modern) has a known inherited disorder than causes a blockage in the stomach. I don’t have any details (src: Dr Rebecca Richards MA, VetMB, PhD, CertSAM, MRCVS). – update 16-5-09: this may refer to the Siamese cat health problem: Pyloric Stenosis, see below for more.
— Siamese cats are predisposed to basal cell carcinoma relative to the norm. See: Cat Skin Cancer.
— Compared to other cat breeds, Siamese cats may have a slightly higher than normal chance of having cat asthma (Source: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook
— It is pretty well known that the Siamese cat sometimes has a squint. It is caused apparently by a disrupted visual pathway. This condition is not dependent on whether the cat is modern or traditional. The squint can also be found in other domestic cats. It seems that the disorder is inherited (genetically based health problem). Sometimes the squint is present when the cat is young and corrects itself as the cat becomes older. The squint does not affect binocular vision.
—Wikipedia says that hip dysplasia particularly affects Siamese cats. A better source says that this Siamese cat health problem occassionally occures. This disorder of the hip is known to affect large cats such as the Persian and Maine Coon but I have not seen it mentioned in relation to the Siamese before. It also affects humans (rarely) and it impairs mobility. It can be treated surgically. Siamese cats can be screened for hip dysplasia at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) (src: Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners).
—There may be a predisposition in the Siamese cat to diabetes (src: Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners). There is no mention of this being breed (i.e. Modern or traditional) specific. See Feline Diabetes
—Dr Turner and Jean Turner VN in their book Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners say that the Siamese cat (no mention of the type of Siamese cat) may have a predisposition towards Psychogenic Alopecia (hair loss through excessive grooming as a result of behavioral problems). See Feline Endocrine Alopecia.
—this is not a health “problem” but something I bumped into about health. Apparently the gestation period (the duration of pregnancy) for a Siamese cat can be 71 days compared with the usual average of 65 days (src: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin).
—Feline Hyperesthesia, it is thought, more commonly occurs in Siamese cats. This is either a behavioral or neurological disease. This may be linked to Feline Endocrine Alopecia (see above) – See Feline Hyperesthesia for more.
—Siamese cats may on occasions be predisposed to eating wool. This may cause cat vomiting. (src: The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Cat’s Symptoms by Dr Garvey et al) – see wool sucking below & link for more. A Siamese cat health problem.
— This could be anecdotal, without firm evidence but I’ll mention it in any case for completeness on the subject of Siamese cat health problems. Siamese cats can it seems rarely suffer from a chest condition called Pectus Excavatum (FCK). This is called “tight chest” by some breeders. Read about it in relation to Dwarf cats. The problem may rarely effect all cats.
— A report in the Daily Mail (16-3-09) in the UK claims that Siamese cats are prone to develop a certain kind of lung cancer. I have not followed this up at the time of adding this.
— The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated
— Siamese cats with vestibular disorders may also be deaf. There is no cure. Vestibular disorders are disorders of the semi-circular canals, utricle and saccule of the inner ear (source: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook).
— Hepatic Amyloidosis. This information first came from a submission from a visitor to this site who wrote about her lovely Oriental Shorthair cats, a breed that also suffers from this disease. This disease is incurable and fatal. Cats present as under the weather. Pale gums and ears are signs plus slight jaundice. Haemorrhaging of the liver caused by amyloid cysts causes death. The author of the website from which this information was obtained has first hand experience and says that the disease is fairly widespread she feels. She is trying to help rectify the problem. Another Siamese cat health problem.
The following come from Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats Edited by Ross D. Clark DVM – this list of potential Siamese cat health problems may overlap with the health issues mentioned above.
The following Siamese cat health problems are “recognized medical problems” associated with the Siamese cat – potential Siamese cat health problems:
Personally (and this is a strictly personal view), I’d find a beautiful traditional Siamese cat in a rescue center and form a loving relationship. I’ve done some work on Siamese rescue and there are some good ones, particularly in the USA. See the page on Siamese cat rescue. I think Siamese cat health problems for the Modern Siamese are a concern. However, these are obviously my views as stated and many or at least some people will disagree, which for me is fine.
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