Inherited Health Problems In Bengal Cats

Many animals can inherit certain disorders which are conditions that happen due to abnormal genes being passed down from one generation to the next. These genetically passed down disorders may be apparent right from birth. However, some may not develop or be obvious until much later in the animal's life. There are certain inherited disorders that affect our feline friends cats with the pedigrees suffering more due to selective breeding as well as in-breeding. Bengal Cats like many other pedigrees are more prone to certain illnesses because of this type breeding programme.

The Adverse Effects of Selective Breeding & In-Breeding

Many breeders looking to develop specific characteristics often choose to go down a route where in-breeding and selective breeding achieves the results they are looking for in a breed. However, there's a price to pay and it's one that affects an animals overall health and well being. Sadly, many breeders choose to base their breeding programmes on an animal's defect in order to get a characteristic they may looking for in the breed. The heavy price is passed to the cat whose health may be severely harmed either right from birth or further down the line.

Bengal cats are magnificent creatures, they are active and healthy individuals but like many other pedigrees, they are prone to certain genetic and other health disorders, some of which are explained below:

Cataracts

Bengal cats are prone to cataracts, an eye disorder which attacks the lens of the eye. The lens becomes opaque and loses its natural transparency which result in blurred vision.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is another inherited eye disorder Bengal cats are prone to suffer from. The conditions can occur at any time during the cats life but is a painless condition that does affect both eyes until they are completely blind.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This is a heart condition that Bengal cats are prone to develop although this particular disease does affect most cats. The condition is caused by a thickening of the inner muscle in the heart and as a result, blood flow is interrupted which affects how the heart works. In Bengals, the condition can occur very early on in the cats life and can even be fatal in some kittens.

It's recommended that Bengals should have an annual scan to make sure they are not suffering from the condition as it is a hereditary condition that's quite commonly seen in the breed. The condition affects muscles and will eventually weaken the cat until they can barely move.

Distal Neuropathy

This is another quite serious hereditary neurological disorder that affects Bengal cats with an estimated 9% of the breed being affected at the early age of 1 year old. The first sign a cat may be suffering from the condition, is weakness, constipation and if the cat has a wound, it appears not to heal.

Eventually, paralysis sets it. Sadly the prognosis is not brilliant for cats who do suffer from the condition although recent advances in veterinary medicine has seen some success in understanding more about distal neuropathy and therefore treating it.

Other Less Serious Health Issues Seen in the Bengal Cat

Although the following conditions are less serious than the ones already mentioned, the disorders still have to be followed closely for the well being of your feline friend because all of them will affect the overall health of your pussy cat.

Psychogenic Alopecia

Psychogenic alopecia in layman's terms is “over-grooming”. It is thought to be a stress-related disorder and when it gets out of hand becomes an obsessive compulsive behaviour that Bengals are prone to suffer from. Self-grooming, for most cats is seen to be a relaxing behavioural action, so when stressed, one of the first things they might do is groom themselves in order to calm down.

However, when it goes a stage further it becomes a real issue with Bengals often grooming themselves so much they lick off their fur and can even pull out tufts of their coats. Commonly, a cat with the condition will lick inside their thighs, around their abdomen and groin area.

The first thing you need to do if you notice any bare patches as a result of your Bengal's excessive grooming, is to get them to a vet as soon as you can so that a correct diagnosis can be made, followed by the right sort of treatment. Your vet will take a sample of skin to determine what the root cause of the condition actually is and then prescribe the right type of medication for you cat to take over a period of time.

Entropion

This is another eye disorder Bengals are prone to suffer from, and it's one that needs to be treated as soon as you see there is a problem because Entropion is a very painful condition where your cat's eyelids become inverted. Immediate treatment is required because if left untreated, it can lead to total blindness.

Entropion is a congenital disorder where the eyeball rolls in the opposite direction to the cornea. Usually it only affects the lower eyelid but it can affect the upper one too. Although, the condition should not be thought of as a fatal disease, if left untreated your cat will scratch at the affected eye and cause a lot of damage which may cause them to lose part of their vision. In the worst case scenario, the constant scratching can lead to loss of vision altogether.

The irritation is caused by your cat's eyelashes constantly rubbing on the cornea of the eye. Not only will your cat find the irritation very hard to cope with but perforation and ulceration of the eye may occur making the condition that much worse.

The key symptoms to look out for are as follows

  • Constant blinking
  • A lot of mucus discharge from the eye
  • Squinting
  • Inflamed and swollen eyelids
  • Aversion to any sort of light
  • Pawing at eyes

You need to get your pet to the vet as soon as you can where they will normally recommend surgery to resolve the problem. Your cat may need further surgery to correct this genetic eyelid disorder.

Conclusion

Bengal Cats are gorgeous looking creatures but they do tend to be prone to inherited disorders, one of which is the “Bengal nose”. This is another condition that causes ulceration to develop on the cat's nose. Although the condition may not be genetic but caused by an allergy or a poor diet. To find out the cause would mean a visit to the vet as soon as you can. If you are thinking about getting or adopting a Bengal, the issues above should not put you off doing so, because these lovely creatures make wonderful family pets although they do tend to be very busy little beings!


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