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.
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.
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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 thatfive 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.
Many times you will need to clean your cats facial folds each day to prevent this eye discharge from keeping their face wet and infected.
While a short snout is absolutely adorable, it also means there's less room for teeth, which can cause teeth crowding and dental disease.
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.