Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome is a genetic condition affecting cats with short muzzles, like Persians, Himalayans and British Shorthairs. Brachycephalic Syndrome is associated with upper airway obstruction, which causes difficulty breathing. Brachycephalic Syndrome can be mild or severe and is often caused by the anatomical abnormalities of the cat’s head and face. These abnormalities are often seen in cats with a “smushed” face and include a narrowed nostrils, elongated soft palate, and everted laryngeal saccules.
The primary symptoms of Brachycephalic Syndrome are labored breathing, snorting or snoring, gagging or retching, exercise intolerance, and in severe cases, collapse. Although cats with milder forms might not have any signs of their condition, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this syndrome.
Symptoms of Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Symptoms of Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome vary depending on the severity of their condition. The primary symptoms are:
- Labored breathing
- Snorting or snoring
- Gagging or retching
- Exercise intolerance
Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing, increased salivation and nasal discharge. Cats with milder forms might not have any signs of their condition.
Diagnosing Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Diagnosing Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome is usually made based on a physical examination and medical history. X-rays can also be used to help diagnose the condition. The veterinarian can also use a flexible endoscope to examine their upper airway and take tissue samples for further testing.
Stages of Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
The stages of Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome range from mild to severe.
The first stage is mild and includes labored breathing, snorting or snoring, gagging or retching, and exercise intolerance.
The second stage is more severe and includes collapsing. In this stage, cats might need supplemental oxygen to help them breathe.
The third stage is the most severe and can be life threatening. At this point, cats could need surgery to correct their anatomical abnormalities associated with the syndrome.
Treating Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Treating Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome depends on the severity of their condition. For cats in stage one, treatment could include weight management and avoiding excessive exercise and heat exposure. These things can help reduce their respiratory distress. In some cases, medication such as bronchodilators will be prescribed to open up their airways and relieve symptoms.
In more severe cases, surgery is often necessary to correct their anatomical abnormalities. Cats in stage three might need surgery to open up their nostrils, remove part of the soft palate or shorten their laryngeal saccules.
It’s important to note that cats with Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome should not be bred because this can pass on their genetic condition to their offspring.
Preventing Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome is a genetic condition, and there is no way to prevent it. Cat owners can reduce the risk of complications by avoiding excessive exercise and heat exposure, and ensuring their pet maintains a healthy weight.