With any purebred animal comes the increased likelihood of hereditary diseases, and the best form of prevention includes breeding geographically diverse members of the breed and not breeding any animal that shows signs of these diseases as they can pass it on to their offspring. This article will walk through the five most common hereditary diseases in the Siberian Cat, which are:
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Polycistic Kidney Disease (PKD)
- Hereditary Cancer
- Urinary Crystals
- Feline Gum Disease (periodontal disease)
1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
One of the more common hereditary conditions among cats, HCM causes the walls of the heart to thicken and consequently makes it more strenuous to pump blood throughout the cat’s body. Certain medications can reduced the strain on the heart, although there is no cure for the condition and may even begin as early as kittenhood.
2. Polycistic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Although PKD begins with cysts in the kitten’s kidneys, it is a slower degenerative disease that takes years to decrease the function of the cat’s kidneys. The liquid filled sacs (known as cysts) progressively worsen in conjunction with the normal function of the kidneys, and grow larger and more intrusive as a result. There is currently no cure, and the end result is typically kidney failure in the older cat.
3. Hereditary Cancer
Cancer is by far most common in the white Siberian Forest Cats, and can be linked to a specific pedigree lineage of “Gesha Olenya Krasa” and “Dolka Olenya Krasa”. Cats of this descent are known to have cancer causing genes, known as oncogenes. However, as in most other animals with oncogenes, presence of the gene doesn’t necessarily guarantee the presence of cancer, and there are other factors that may help prevent its manifestation such as a healthy diet and regular checkups.
4. Urinary Crystals
Also referred to as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), the condition involves formation of stone-like minerals, crystals and organic matter and reside in the cat’s urinary tract. This covers anything from kidney stones to blockages to infections of the kidney. Although it’s not completely known whether it’s completely hereditary, it’s very common in the Siberian Cat. Symptoms may include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria – blood that can be seen, as opposed to microscopic which is unseen)
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination or straining to urinate
- Genital licking
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Urinary tract obstruction
- Urine spraying
- Passing urine in unusual places
Fortunately there are several methods of treating these conditions after diagnosis by a veterinarian.
5. Feline Gum Disease (periodontal disease)
Gum disease is common among all cats, and can be alleviated by proper diet and supplements. Tooth extraction is usually the only solution once the disease takes hold and the tooth is causing pain, however preventative measures such as brushing the cat’s teeth can be effective. Keep in mind that human toothpaste should never be used. Efforts to reduce the instances of gum disease involve breeding the Siberian cat with Persian, Maine Coon Cat, and the Himalayan cat.
Siberian cat breeders try very hard to keep their breed’s genes as diverse as possible to prevent these hereditary diseases and to never breed cats that show signs of the conditions. If you have any additional questions about these diseases or have any concern your Siberian cat may be showing signs of one, consult your veterinarian who can run further tests or provide a more in-depth explanation.