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Burmese Cat Health Issues

Like many other pure bred cats, Burmese cats have a predisposition to certain inherited disorders and diseases. In most cases, you are unlikely to come across such health problems, particularly if you buy a Burmese kitten from a reputable breeder, but you should still be aware of these Burmese cat health issues.

Serious Burmese cat health issues

Burmese Head Defect – Meningeoncephalocele and related cranial head abnormalities are a serious genetic disorder that affects the musculoskeletal system of a Burmese cat. It is an inherited trait that is mostly confined to US Burmese cats. The problem came about from excessive inbreeding to produce what was seen as a desirable wedge shaped head. Unfortunately, an unforeseen and very undesirable recessive gene came to the fore and the problems soon began. Kittens started being born with a congenital craniofacial deformity and deformed heads. Breeding programmes have since tried to reduce the incidence and any kittens born with the trait are euthanised, but the problem does still remain in US lines of Burmese cats.

Burmese cat health issues

Another Burmese Cat health issue is a hereditary heart problem known as Primary Endocardial fibroelastosis. The same condition is also seen in the Siamese cat breed and it is generally known to be fatal. Symptoms normally develop in cats aged between 3 weeks and 4 months and include breathing difficulties and an enlarged left atrium and ventricle. The prognosis in affected kittens is not good.

Burmese Cat Health Problems: Eyes

There are two eye problems known to affect the Burmese cat breed: eversion of the cartilage of the third eye, which can be treated with surgery, and Congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca that causes dry eyes, chronic conjunctivitis and corneal vascularisation.

Feline Orofacial pain syndrome affects Burmese cats, and in particular male Burmese cats. Symptoms include exaggerated licking and chewing movements, plus excessive pawing at the mouth. This happens in distinct episodes, although the cat remains alert (albeit in distress) for the duration. The disease appears to be related to some kind of oral pain or distress, and is possibly linked to teething or dental disease. A possible risk factor is stress, but it is believed that there are also hereditary factors involved.

Flat chested kitten syndrome is well recognised by Burmese cat breeders. Affected kittens are born distinctly flat chested. They are susceptible to weight loss, failure to suckle, and they often struggle to breath easily. Kittens who are only mildly affected show an improvement after a few days, whereas others who are more severely affected have a less positive prognosis. The deformity becomes less noticeable as the kitten matures and once it reaches adulthood, it is usually not apparent at all. Research on the incidence of the condition strongly suggests that the problem is inherited.

What other Burmese cat health issues are there?

Burmese cats are also prone to Type 2 Diabetes and incidence of the disease is increasing. Older male cats are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are overweight, but any cat is at risk of developing Diabetes Mellitus as it grows older.

Hereditary health problems in pet Burmese cats can be avoided by buying your kitten from a responsible cat breeder. Any breeder who genuinely cares about their cats will always screen queens for hereditary conditions before breeding from them. This is done to help eradicate the serious and devastating diseases that kill or reduce the life expectancy of affected cats. By only breeding from healthy stock, a breeder can then ensure that all future generations are free from inherited diseases and you are saved the heartbreak of losing your beloved cat to ill-health and disease.

If you are concerned about any health aspect relating to your Burmese cat, always consult your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible since many Burmese cat health issues can be controlled or cured if addressed early enough.

20 Responses leave one →
  1. miss sharon taylor permalink
    November 1, 2011

    hi need advice my 3 year burmese boy over weight need diet plan

    • rachel permalink*
      November 1, 2011

      Obesity is a common problem with male neutered cats, especially if they are house cats. If you have tried putting him on a special diet food and he is still not losing weight, it might be worth consulting your vet to check he does not have an under-active thyroid or other health problem that could be causing him to gain weight. Hope that helps!

  2. Lisa permalink
    December 15, 2011

    My Burmese kitten’s, ( 5 months) eye (normally not both at the same time ) from time to time goes cloudy . He doesn’t seem to suffer at all from it and it goes away in a day or so …The eye does not appear red or swollen. Any idea what it can be?! Last time it happened I booked him in for the vet but by the time of the appointment the cloudiness was gone and the eye looked perfectly normal again. Apart from this every now and again he is healthy.

    Thanks

    • rachel permalink*
      December 15, 2011

      It could be Lipaemia of the aqueous humour.

      Many Burmese cats (>50 cases in the UK) in the UK, Australia and New Zealand have been seen to develop a transient milky appearance to one or both of their eyes. Affected cats have all been between 5 months and a year of age, and in most cases only one eye has been involved. All of the cats have been otherwise healthy, and recovery has been spontaneous, with clinical signs resolving within, at most 3 days, typically <24 hours. Recurrences have occurred, either in the same eye, the other eye, or both eyes. No recurrences have been seen after the cats’ reach a year of age. The cause of the disorder is unknown, but it may relate to abnormal lipid metabolism as blood from recently affected cats has revealed raised amounts of circulating fat (triglyceride levels up to twice the upper limit of the normal range, with raised proportions of chylomicrons and very low density lipoproteins).

  3. Corinne permalink
    December 28, 2011

    My Burmese, 2yr old male, is currently at the vet’s with a kidney infection. We suspect he might have a bigger underlying condition. He has lost about 2 pounds in the past couple of months, and has been a little more lethargic and less affectionate than usual for about 6 months. We have noticed that he doesn’t eat as well as he used to, but he hadn’t stopped eating or been eating too little to thrive until the kidney infection made him ill in the past week. Until this week, all of these changes have been slight and very gradual, we thought it was just his temperament changing as he matured.
    He also has a skin condition that we’ve been told is allergy-related, results in a lot of scratching and small patches of hair loss (from the scratching, it grows back fine).
    We are concerned that the kidney problems and the skin condition might be warning signs of a larger problem.
    Does anyone have any experience with these problems in Burmese cats? Any ideas what might be wrong with him (diabetes, possibly)?

    Really worried, he’s a huge part of the family, please help!

    • Dave permalink
      February 23, 2012

      Could be CRF, ask your vet to test for it as early treatment is really required. It is a condition of the Kidneys which is untreatable but can be slowed down.

  4. Lara permalink
    January 7, 2012

    Hi there,
    My chocolate burmese female is 13 years old. For a long time she has had issues with being sick, but after trying many different food types we found one that stopped her vomitting. Recently, however, she has begun being sick again. It is repeatedly, around two times a day, and I’m worried she’s not keeping her food down. The vomit is always very liquid, and it seems as though it’s happening after she’s digested most of what she’s eaten. Considering her past, I thought maybe she just has a delicate stomach. Do burmeses tend to have stomach issues? Or is this something else? She seems fine in every other respect, except that she has been slightly more vocal recently. She’s not yowling, she just mews a lot for attention, always has done, but it just seems to be a bit more often these days. I’m considering taking her to the vet.

    • rachel permalink*
      January 7, 2012

      Many cats vomit regularly with no ill effect and some cats have more sensitive stomachs than others. From what you’ve said, your cat is one of those with a very sensitive stomach, but as long as she is not losing weight or showing other signs of illness, I wouldn’t worry too much. Try her on a good quality food designed for sensitive types- James Wellbeloved cat food contains no allergens. Royal Canin also make a food for sensitive stomachs. If you don’t want to buy a bag of food at the risk of wasting it, try asking for a sample to see if helps. It is definitely worth having her checked over at the vets – Burmese are prone to bad teeth and gingivitis can lead to stomach upsets if the gums become very inflamed.

    • Angela permalink
      April 8, 2013

      I have a Lilac Burmese girl, she’s 14 and has, for quite some time, had these vomiting issues usually at night but sometimes during the day, for no apparent reason. I’ve changed her food for more expensive ones which seem to help for a limited time but the sickness always starts again. I have two other cats, a boy who just walked in and never went away again and a 2yr old Snowshoe boy, they eat the same as her with no ill effects. They have wet food and there’s always dry food for them with plenty of water on the side. She’s had numerous visits to the vet who can’t find a cause but now she has lost a lot of weight and I have booked an apt with the vet this week, I have just lost her brother which broke my heart so I don’t want to lose her too, she’s been with me since 16wks old.

  5. Lara permalink
    January 7, 2012

    Thank you very much :) I will be sure to try her on some new food and book an appointment at the vet to put my mind at rest.

  6. January 10, 2012

    I’ve got 5 cats, 3 British Shorthair and two Burmese. I think you should visit the vet. It’s important to rule out underlying systemic diseases, check that your cat is worm/parasite free and check out your cats haematology. Prior to visiting you could try keeping a diary listing what your cat eats , when it’s sick ( describe what the cat has brought up, perhaps get some into a clean dry pot for the vet to test. Also describe your cats faeces- all of this WILL help your vet reach a diagnosis) keep the diary for perhaps one/ two weeks before visiting vet, this way any pattern that emerges will hopefully be of help to your vet. I know how expensive vets bills can be. Though I’m sure it’s the same for cats as it is for humans, early detection stands a better chance of a cure. If your cat has ‘just’ a sensitive stomach, aside from the various sensitive diets available, you may try growing “cat grass” Cat it Senses I’d happily recommend. The starter pack is about £14 and one needs to change the grass every three weeks to prevent mold growing. Replacement dual packs cost about £6.99. Your local pet shop can reorder this for you. All of my babies love the grass. I DO hope your cat gets better soon. I hope I’ve been of help?

  7. Valerie permalink
    January 30, 2012

    I have two FN rescue Burmese, and needless to say they came with numerous healthy and behavioural issues. The younger cat had digestive problems, the worst of which was persistent diarhorrea which at times had blood and mucus in it, and she was very grouchy and uncomfortable. To cut a long story short however, is that after trying numerous specialist diets (expensive), fresh chicken, fish etc, for three years, I have at last discovered Pro Plan! It’s made by Purina and doesn’t contain the known allergens like some of the other dry food. They do a sensitive stomach variety but I feed mine on the light version since they are a little on the tubby side! They have a very small quantity of fresh chicken before ‘bedtime’ just to give them a change. NOTHING else! The situation has improved beyond all my hopes and apart from the odd bout of slight diarhorrea we have had no problems with their digestions. The improvement was gradual over about a month to six weeks from when I started feeding the Pro Plan so be patient! Try it Lara and good luck!

    • beki permalink
      February 2, 2012

      bloody mucus stools sounds like Tritrichomonas foetus which one of my cats had. do some research and get a sample done if the mucus faeces is still around.

  8. beki permalink
    February 2, 2012

    I have 4 cats, two of which are burmese. one male 18months and a 3 year old female.
    i’ve had the boy since he was 5 months and he has always had bad breath. he hasn’t got any red inflamation on the gums yet his breath is really bad. he eats mostly dry food with wet food now and then. i recently rescued the female and she also has similar breath. i know another burmese cat who has bad breath too! is this a trait in burmese’ cats?

  9. Andrea permalink
    March 15, 2012

    We have a rescue cat who appears (from all characteristics) to be Burmese crossbreed. Ponchik was 4 mo when we got him, and around 7 mo, he developed a major infection due to ear mites. The first vet put him on an antibiotic that he was allergic to. We went to a new place that specialized in cats. His ear mite problem cleared up, but we don’t know whether he has some neurological damage in his brain as a result. He’s now 10 mo, and his hindquarters seem to be growing weaker. He walks awkwardly, falls when he jumps, and he’s underweight. I wondered about hypokalemia, but the vet (this one is great) has run extensive tests and can find nothing wrong. Ponchik doesn’t have any head/neck involvement, nor is his potassium low. He’s not in pain, but it breaks my heart to see a kitten who was so active and healthy move and look as if he’s geriatric. He also has a bad eye infection, which isn’t responding to steroid drops (prednisolone). I was wondering whether this could be congenital keratoconjunctivitis common to Burmese. We don’t have the money to see a neurologist, so I don’t know what else we can do. I just wondered if anyone else has run into this situation before. (And yes, he sort of has bad breath, but so do our other cats! :-) )

    • Andrea permalink
      March 28, 2012

      I wanted to follow up on my last post. My vet agreed to try the potassium supplement, given that it was really our last chance. By this point, Ponchik was peeing at least once a day outside the litter box, sleeping most of the time, would collapse anytime he jumped down from a low surface (like a sofa), and would only nibble at his food. He was down to 7 lb 7 oz (had lost 4 oz from his previous checkup a couple weeks before). And his right eye was red, cloudy, and hardly open.

      After only ONE & 1/2 WEEKs on a low dose of potassium, it’s as if he’s almost a new cat. His hindquarters have gained strength and while he’s a touch clumsy with jumping down and occasionally on the stairs, he can now walk normally — he even climbed up to sleep in our child’s top bunk! He’s eating well (and has definitely gained a bit of weight already). He’s showing interest again in his surroundings, and is vocalizing more again (and loudly). He even has been chasing after string when we play with him. Not only that, but his eye is almost completely better — whatever systemic problem he’d had must have attacked his immune system, and now that his overall health is improving, his eye is recovering, too.

      It’s absolutely amazing. I hope that anyone who comes looking for answers if their young Burmese (or part– as our cat is) starts showing weakness and agility issues, loses weight, etc. will continue to press their vets. Ours showed no standard symptoms of hypokalemia — he didn’t drop his head/neck, his potassium and CK serum on his blood tests were in the normal range. Yet because I’d read about another case like his, where the potassium helped, I asked the vet if we could try it as a last ditch effort. I’m so glad she agreed. Less than two weeks later, I have my kitten back — if we hadn’t tried the potassium, we’d probably have had to put him to sleep, he was deteriorating so quickly.

      • rachel permalink*
        March 28, 2012

        So happy to hear your cat has made such a fantastic recovery!! Wonderful news :)

  10. Avril permalink
    July 31, 2012

    Have just adopted a 3 1/2 female and was told that Burmese can have allergic reaction to F3 killed vaccines! Such as being ill and limping! I bred British Shorthair for almost 30 yrs and never heard of this sort of thing. Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks.

  11. Connie permalink
    August 26, 2012

    My 2 Burmese cats came from 2 Breeders. I got them when they were a year old. When they were 3 years old, they both had a gum infection and They had to be sadated by the vet who cleaned their teeth and removed a few. This cost upwards of $2,00.

    Now my Blue Burmese has what is known as lymphocytic/plasmacytic stomatitis (LPS).This is a very painful and severe chronic inflammation of the soft tissues around the teeth. This is a chronic thing, so it will probably continue to make her suffer for the rest of her life.

    My vet wanted to remove all of her teeth but about 15 percent of cats may still have problems. Imagine the pain of sore gums until they heal and then not being able to chew. Curtrently various medications have been tried, but none have provided reliable or predictable results and all have potentially nasty side effects.

    Apparently this is common with Burmese cats. After my Burmese was treated for 6 weeks and the infection didn’t go away, I made the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep and end her suffering.

  12. Sue permalink
    December 15, 2012

    My Burmese boy now 14years old has started limping & hold 1 of his legs up when sitting. I have checked & there is nothing to sugesst there is any thing in his paw. he is an inside cat.
    He loves to be cuddled so i am able to check him. Do Burmese cats suffer from arthritis ?
    Thanking you

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