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 may not have any signs of the 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 the 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 may not have any signs of the condition.
Diagnosing Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Diagnosing Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome is usually made based on physical examination and medical history. X-rays can also be used to help diagnose the condition. The veterinarian might 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 collapse. 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 might need surgery to correct their anatomical abnormalities associated with the syndrome.
Treatment for Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome
Treatment for Feline Brachycephalic Syndrome depends on the severity of their condition. For cats in stage one, treatment may include weight management and avoiding excessive exercise and heat exposure. This can help reduce their respiratory distress. In some cases, medication such as bronchodilators may 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.
Cats with this syndrome should not be bred in order to avoid passing on their genetic condition.