Special Health Considerations for Flat-Faced Cats

With cute snoring and a squishy little nose, flat-faced cats are undeniably adorable. These cats are also undeniably paw-pular thanks to the fame of Grumpy Cat. Whether you've got one at home, on your wish list, or on your Instagram feed, these quirky cat faces are everywhere.

PrettyLitter Special Health Considerations for Flat-Faced Cats

According to The College of Veterinary Medicine at The University of Illinois, "The Persian and Exotic Shorthair rank first and third among the most popular purebred cats owned." Both of these cat breeds are famous for their squishy snouts.

Since flat-faced felines are becoming more popular as pets, here are some health factors to consider if you're thinking about bringing one home.

Brachycephalic Cats

While you may call her by any number of cutesy nick names thanks to her unique look, there is a medical term for flat-faced cats: brachycephalic. Try saying that five times fast.

When the word is broken down, "brachy" means "short," and "cephalic" means "relating to the head." So, what you end up with is a fancy word for "short head."

Brachycephalic cats have a shortened bone structure in their skulls that causes that cute, scrunched appearance in the face.

Health Concerns for Flat-faced Cats

While one look at their unique faces will melt your heart, these cats require a little more health attention than other breeds. In fact, flat-faced cats are at a higher risk to have breathing, dental, and vision problems.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is an abnormality in the air pathways in the face. Because of their shortened bone structure and small nose, these cats can have upper respiratory problems and may have a hard time breathing properly.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome can cause further health complications, too.

According to VCA Hospitals, "The upper airway abnormalities that occur in this syndrome may include stenotic nares, an elongated soft palate, a hypoplastic [narrowed] trachea, and everted laryngeal saccules [airway obstructions]."

With brachycephalic airway syndrome, your furry friend may have a hard time breathing through her mouth and will sometimes resort to breathing through her mouth – much like when you get a stuffy nose.

Clogged Tear Ducts

Tear ducts are meant to collect the tears from a cat's eyes and drain them into the nose. With flat-faced cats, oftentimes the tear ducts are shortened, making them ineffective.

If a cat's tear ducts aren't working properly, it may appear that her eyes are watering constantly. According to VetInfo, "A clogged tear duct can cause discharge, crustiness on the eyelids, inflammation or swelling of the eyelids." This can cause irritation that causes excessive blinking, squinting, or rubbing, which can lead to worse damage.

Clogged tear ducts, if left untreated, can lead to skin conditions, eye infections, or loss of vision. Clogged ducts are unpreventable, so if you notice any signs of clogging, visit your vet and inquire about an eye-cleaning solution for your fur baby.

Dental Issues

While a short snout is absolutely adorable, it also means there's less room for teeth, which can cause teeth crowding and dental disease.

PrettyLitter Special Health Considerations for Flat-Faced Cats

A study performed by The Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association suggested that, "Because of their brachycephaly, Persian and Exotic cats have unique oral and dental features that may predispose them to dental disease."

Some of the dental problems to look out for in flat-faced cats would be tooth resorption, when the body starts breaking down the over-crowded teeth. Ouch! Nobody likes a toothache and this condition is extremely painful for cats.

Another problem to be aware of is periodontal disease, or plaque build-up. While it's not exclusive to flat-faced cats, periodontal disease can compound other health issues that flat-faced kitties are prone to. A simple visit to the vet for a teeth cleaning can help prevent cavities or any painful toothaches for your kitty.

Squishy-faced cats are unquestionably cute, but if you're thinking about bringing one into your household, study up on the health factors affecting your fur baby so you can take the best care of her.

Do you have a flat-faced cat? Tell us all about your fur baby in the comments below! We're here if you have questions, too.




Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



7 Responses

Linda Melindy
Linda Melindy

October 16, 2019

I HAVE A RAGDOLL. aNY ADVICE.. sHE IS hiper

Amy
Amy

October 14, 2019

I have a Exotic-Shorthair and he is SO ADORABLE. The most loving kitty I have ever had. BUT yes, there is much upkeep to him. I have his teeth cleaned every other year (may have to even have it yearly). It is sometimes hard for him to get food in his mouth, so we actually throw away more food than he actually eats. I am not sure if this is a problem with this particular breed, but he also has urinary issues and MUST be on prescription food to keep him healthy this way. He is also a “ginger” and I have heard that this is a known issue with “ginger” cats (whether true or not, it is for him). I have to wipe his face daily with “cat face wipes” that I get at our local hollistic pet store. With all of these expenses, I STILL would do it all over again. I have always had himilayan cats so am use to the flat nose face. It is SO adorable and we just LOVE our baby boy.

Gen
Gen

October 14, 2019

My Buiscuit (Cookie in Frech) is a Chinchilla Silver Point Persan with chronic Rhino and asthma due to his face features. Even if I boost his immune system with Lysin it is often not enough and unfortunately I constantly need to give him cortison and put him on antiobiotics because his condition gets to bad: often he has lots of trouble breathing, he also caught and sneeze a lot. I would love To find a supplement that could really help him and which could reduce the number of times I need To put him on medication and see the vet.
People do not really realize what kind of medical problems flat face cats have and all the health issus with raced kitties. Those poor kitties are often abandonned cause the owners do not want To pay and manage keeping them healthy as much as possible. It is crazy the amount of persan cats in shelters (ending up euthanized) and in rescues hands. Only me I have 2 here that were abandonned at 11 and 13 year old, one of which is Buiscuit, who was sterilized and declawed at his 4 paws. Shelters and rescues are full of abandonned raced declawed kitties, which their owner paid hundreds if not thousands of dollards To “buy” and mutilate them before abandonning them because they did not get inform enough about the race and its particularities, “yes but the kitty is so cute” is how they choose him… i know pleanty of persans, siameses, Bengals, ragdolls, abysins, etc that are still in shelters and rescues hands looking for their furever family to end their days in loves and cuddles.
Please get inform on the race before adopting a pet and moreover please adopt for the right reasons not just because “he is cute!”.

Lena
Lena

October 14, 2019

I have a Persian/ Hymalayan baby girl 🐾….she has a flat, Oscar the crouch style face! I have noticed her bed time breathing is a mix between a snore and a light wheez…too cute💜!
I will definitely be checking her teeth routinely thanks to this wonderful article!

VIRGINIA
VIRGINIA

October 16, 2019

I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY, ONE YEAR ABOUT A DOZEN CATS WERE LEFT OUT HERE.MISS KITTY ADOPTED ME. SHE WAS 3 OR4 AT THE TIME. FIXED SO NO KITTENS IN THE LAST 8 YEARS. SHE IS A SEAL POINT AND AS MEAN AS CAN BE AT TIMES. THEN FALLING ALL OVER ME. NOT MY FIRST CAT BUT SHE KEEPS THE MICE AWAY.

Devin Brent
Devin Brent

October 14, 2019

Unfortunately i know all too well about the dental issues as my fur baby who got rescued from the streets of Egypt came to use malnourished and abused…if not for AnimalKind in Hudson New York…he would still be there or worse. Whoever took care of him before the people who saved him and sent him to AnimalKind didnt take proper care of him and now his teeth are a 3 out of 4 and he needs 2 extractions now.

Jim Bender
Jim Bender

October 14, 2019

We adopted Cesha an 8 year old Persian. We found her diet greatly affects how much cleaning her daily face requires. The more she consumes pate over dry food the less issues with her tear ducts and cleaning required..

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