Siamese cat health problems

Written by leslie darling
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Siamese cat health problems
Siamese cats are generally healthy. (siamese cat image by Aleksandar Radovanovic from Fotolia.com)

The Siamese is one of the most popular cat breeds and is easily recognisable by its distinctive "points." The Siamese breed has been around several hundred years and generally is quite healthy, averaging a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, as with most purebreds, genetic weaknesses can result in a susceptibility to certain health problems. While most are rare, you might want to familiarise yourself with these health issues in order to watch for them.

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Upper Respiratory Infections

Siamese, especially kittens, are susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose. Treatment usually includes antibiotics and decongestants. Always provide a warm, dry sleeping area, and avoid contact with strange cats. Kittens can be vaccinated at 8 to 10 weeks of age.

Premature Tooth Loss

Gingivitis--inflammation of the gum tissue--is more prevalent in Siamese than in other breeds. If not treated, it can lead to tooth loss. If your cat is not eating as much or his breath is foul, check his gums. They should be pink. If they're red or swollen, your cat might have gingivitis. To treat this, your vet will sedate him and perform a thorough teeth cleaning. To prevent gingivitis, brush your cat's teeth daily.

Sensitivity to Anesthesia

Siamese seem to be more sensitive to anaesthesia, making spaying/neutering and other surgical treatments slightly more complicated. Have your vet perform pre-surgical screenings.

Feline Megacolon

Feline megacolon is a disorder of the large intestine that leads to chronic and progressive constipation. Your cat might strain to use the litter box, or you might see blood in the stool. Changes in diet or laxatives can treat mild cases. In severe cases, part of the large intestine is surgically removed.

Psychogenic Alopecia

This condition is considered to be similar to obsessive compulsive disorder in humans. Your cat grooms herself excessively, to the point of hair loss. It is believed that stress triggers this condition. Treatment can include antidepressants, separating the cat from its stressor or providing a stimulating environment.

Vestibular Disease

The vestibular system controls balance and orientation. Symptoms include tilting the head and loss of balance. In Siamese, the condition often presents in young kittens and usually resolves itself by 3 to 4 months of age. Motion sickness medication might be prescribed.

Life-threatening Conditions

Although rare, kidney disease and pancreatitis, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. Amyloidosis, an accumulation of the protein amyloid, is overrepresented in Siamese and other purebred cats. Signs common to both conditions are loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss. Treatment is available and depends upon the severity of the diseases. Siamese cats are often said to have an increased risk of cardiomyopathy, when the muscles of the heart become unable to perform normally. However, lack of taurine in the diet is known to contribute to this, and today, most commercial cat foods are supplemented with taurine. It is unclear if Siamese need more taurine than other breeds or if they have a genetic predisposition to cardiomyopathy.

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