Monday, March 11, 2013

Brachiocephalic Cat Breeds and Their Common Health Problems

The term "brachiocephalic" literally means a short head. When used to describe cats in a medical manner, it basically means that they have a "smushed in" appearance of their face. They have a short nasal passages. There are many popular brachiocephalic cat breeds that have won the hearts of cat fanciers everywhere. Cat breeds with short faces are unfortunately prone to a number of health problems. Here is a list of some brachiocephalic cat breeds, mostly all of them originally coming from the popular Persian cat.
Persian Cat.
Photo via khanb1

  • Persian
  • British Longhair and Shorthair
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Chinchilla
  • Himalayan


Breathing Problems for Brachiocephalic Cats


Anyone who's ever owned a brachiocephalic breed of cat is probably familiar with their breathing. Some of the cats can be heard snorting and wheezing. This is because their nasal passageway is so short. The anatomy of their face causes shortness of breath, leading to a higher respiratory rate. They also seem to be more prone to nasal discharge and upper respiratory infections. 

Eye Conditions


These types of cats are also prone to a number of eye conditions. Most of which is excess ocular discharge. Their tear ducts may not be formed properly which causes an excessive amount of tear production. This causes that reddish-brown stain underneath the eyes that can be seen in many brachiocephalic cats. Thankfully, this problem is pretty much only cosmetic. 

Entropion is another common eye condition for these breeds. Entropion is when the eyelids fold inward and cause the eyelashes to rub against the cornea of the eye. It can be a painful experience and cause ulcers or scratches on the cornea, ultimately damaging the eyes. 

Skin Conditions Due to Tear Production


As mentioned above, brachiocephalic cats produce a lot of tears. The tears run down the face and cause staining, but sometimes this stuff can become gunky, sticky, and cause infection in the skin. These breeds of cats do have skin folds on their face that need to be cleaned properly or else they can be at risk for skin infections in these places. If the fur isn't cleaned on a regular basis, the fur around the eyes can also become matted. Matted fur is painful, particularly in such a sensitive area of the body. 

Exotic Shorthair cat. 
Photo via Charlyn W

Regardless of what these felines look like, they are all beautiful cats with big hearts. Have you ever owned a brachiocephalic cat before?

22 comments:

  1. Mom has never has these short head cats, but one of the hospitals she worked had two. They were British shorthair cats and they were very cute until they got close to a pup. Oh, they were not nice to pups. Not nice at all!

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  2. All those cats look like they've been whacked in the face with a shovel. It's ugly and does NOTHING to improve the breed.

    Persian cats have many health problems other than breathing. Eye lid and tear duct deformities, skin diseases and birthing difficulties just to name a few.

    If you are interested, check out this video of a pictorial "history" of Persians.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuYvjqLywMw&feature=player_embedded

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    1. I was reading about them and did read about the birthing difficulties. I just didn't mention the birthing problems here because I didn't think it was related to their face. I also read about how a "super" version of the breed was made to have an even more smushed in face... which I thought was very sad. I don't think they need to make their faces anymore smushed in than they already are.

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  3. No we have never had any type of cat. Not sure if we like these but in the end all animals deserve love. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  4. We have never heard of those, they are super cute but one snorer in the house is enough for us ( daddy!!! ) BOL xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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  5. We have only ever had strays (and their variety of issues) but it's always nice to learn about others :-)

    Oink oink,
    Katie and Coccolino the mini pig

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  6. I've heard of these cats before, but I've never had one myself. I was not aware that all of these problems can occur with brachiocephalic cats. I truly do learn something every time I visit here :)

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  7. I didn't realize those cats had so many problems. They must be really nice cats because a lot of people have them.Thanks for all that info.

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  8. we haz knot but we had haz bulldogs in de familee sinz R mom wuz a kid bak when dino saurz roamed de lands....doez thiz count !! ?? :)

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    1. Kind of - bulldogs are just brachiocephalic dogs.

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  9. nope me I'll stick to bunnies and the occasional moggy

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  10. That was quite interesting and I didn't know that big word.

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  11. I didn't know a Chinchilla could be a cat - I thought they were just the little mouse-like creatures. Learning new things every day! =D

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    1. I didn't know Chinchilla was a breed of cat either. A chinchilla cat is entirely different than an actual Chinchilla though. A real chinchilla is a small mammal/rodent and not a cat at all.

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  12. TW has never been attracted to those smushed in cats for some reason. Informative piece that I'll pass along.

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  13. Very informative piece and very well written!!
    All those kitties are like the pugs of the kitty world!!!
    Love Milo :)

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  14. I have read about these cats before, but never owned one. They don't tend to be found in shelters, at least not here. Informative post, thanks!

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  15. We haven't owned any of these beautiful kitties, but we have known many who have come through PAWS. Thanks for all of this interesting information, Ann!

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  16. No, we haven't either, but when he crossed our path, he'll be welcome anytime :)

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  17. My Himalayan, Annie, just turned 13. She's always wheezed and she likes to sneeze on me to wake me up when she wants attention. It's pretty gross, but just another 'feature' of the breed. She's my girl, though, and I wouldn't trade her for anything.

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