1. Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS): This is a primary concern in short-nosed or brachycephalic cat breeds like Persians and Exotics. The condition leads to various breathing problems because of the abnormal structure of the head and neck. The narrow nostrils, elongated soft palate, and the small trachea contribute to difficulties in respiration.
2. Dental and Oral Problems: Short-nosed cats can experience dental diseases due to the peculiar arrangement of their teeth caused by the smaller jaw. Overcrowding of teeth can lead to periodontal disease.
3. Dystocia (Difficulty Giving Birth): Brachycephalic breeds may face problems during birth due to the larger head size of the kittens relative to the mother's pelvic width.
4. Eye Problems: Due to the structure of their faces, short-nosed cat breeds can also suffer from eye conditions such as excessive tearing, entropion (inward rolling of the eyelids), and exposure keratitis (inflammation of the cornea due to overexposure).
5. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): This is a common genetic disease especially in Persian cats and Persian-related breeds. PKD leads to multiple cysts formation in the kidneys and can cause renal failure.
6. Skin Problems: The skin folds on the face of short-nosed breeds can lead to dermatitis and other skin infections.
Surgical and Treatment Options:
1. Surgery for BAOS: This can include nostril widening (nares resection), soft palate resection, and possibly removal of everted laryngeal saccules.
2. Dental Care and Oral Surgeries: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings can be beneficial. In severe cases, tooth extractions may be necessary.
3. C-Section for Dystocia: Due to difficulties in natural birth, planned caesarian sections are common in these breeds.
4. Eye Surgeries: Surgical correction can be performed for issues like entropion.
5. Management of PKD: This is largely symptomatic and supportive, including fluid therapy, a special diet, and possibly medications to reduce the workload of the kidneys. In advanced stages, dialysis or kidney transplant can be considered.
6. Dermatological Treatments: Regular cleaning of skin folds, along with appropriate topical medications can help prevent skin infections.
Breeding History and Human Influence:
Brachycephalic or short-nosed cats are the result of selective breeding. Breeders have chosen to breed cats with increasingly flat faces due to the aesthetic appeal to some people. Over generations, this has accentuated the flat face and short nose traits in these breeds.
Why They're Not a Good Option for a Pet:
Despite the cute and appealing look, and often good-natured personality traits, the inherent health issues can make brachycephalic cats a challenging pet choice. The medical conditions they are prone to can lead to a poor quality of life for the cat and potentially high veterinary costs for the owner. Furthermore, ethical considerations arise due to the health problems being a direct result of human-selected traits.
In summary, while these cats can be loving and delightful pets, potential owners should be aware of the significant health concerns associated with the brachycephalic breeds. It's always advisable to consider adopting cats from shelters or choosing breeds that are healthier and not prone to so many genetic and physical issues.