Maine Coons are prone to dental disease, heart disease and hip dysplasia. See more breed-specific health conditions below.
Cats are masters at hiding signs of illness. In nature, showing weakness made them easy prey for predators.
Cats have fairly predictable schedules. They normally sleep 16 to 18 hours per day, use the litter box when needed, drink water and eat food regularly. Any changes in behavior or routine can be the first signs of disease or illness. SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO WATCH FOR SUBTLE CHANGES THAT COULD BE SIGNS OF ILLNESS OR DISEASE IN YOUR KITTY. CATS NATURALLY MASK SIGNS OF ILLNESS – YOU ALMOST HAVE TO BE A DETECTIVE! If you notice ANY of the following changes in your cat, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Sleeping more -- or less
Lack of play in an otherwise playful cat
Decrease or increase in appetite
Not eating or drinking
Change in drinking habits (drinking more -- or less)
Changes in disposition
Avoids interaction or affection
More affectionate or “clingy”
Retreating – less engagement with people
Not as active
Any changes in breathing (slower or more rapid)
Difficulty running or jumping
Runny stool or blood in stool
Bloody urine or larger amount of urine
Firm, dry stools (nuggets) – often sign of constipation
Inability to urinate or more frequent urination
Urinating only small amounts
Crying out in the litter box
Burmese cats are prone to dental disease, eye problems and liver disease.
Some breeds of cat are more prone to certain diseases and illnesses than others. Please see the chart below. Note, that while this indicates a predisposition toward a certain condition, it does not mean that this type of cat will always have this type of health problems. It does, however, mean that families of these cats should be more diligent in spotting the warning signs of these health conditions.
Purebred & Mixed Breed Health Conditions*
The Abyssinian is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats, but its real ancestry is lost in time. Some say it’s a direct descendant of the sacred cats of ancient Egypt because it resembles the cats depicted in murals and artifacts. Abyssinians are loyal, affectionate, highly intelligent and very interactive with their owners and environment. Engaging companions for people of all ages, Abyssinians are happiest in the company of others, love to play and will find ways to involve you in their activities. While exceedingly social, they are not always content in large cat populations where they have to share attention.
The adorable American Curl boasts naturally-curled back ears: an interesting result of gene-selective breeding since the 1980s. Affectionate and family-oriented, these cats adapt well to other pets, children, and new people. The Curl comes in both a long and short-haired variety and requires minimal grooming as they have a scant undercoat. Although their more “open” ears can make them prone to ear infections or foreign objects, the breed is otherwise generally healthy. They have been described as having dog-like personalities in the way they pay attention to their owners, and would be an excellent addition to a playful, multi-pet family.
Native to North America and reminiscent in appearance to wild cats, the American Bobtail is medium-large to large in size. Its naturally short tail, unique in each cat, is proudly held up above the back when the cat is alert, often wagging to express the cat's mood. The American Bobtail is recognized as a naturally-occurring breed originating with feral cats around the United States and Canada. Its above-average intelligence and affectionate, but low-key, personality make the American Bobtail a great family pet that typically bonds with the whole family. The breed comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns in short hair (plush like rabbit fur) and in medium-long (easy to maintain with minimal combing).
Although the American Shorthair is a natural breed, the process of selective breeding has developed the breed as we know it today. American Shorthairs are good-natured, easy-going and popular with families. They can be calm but are also playful even into old age. American Shorthairs do not really mature until they are around 3 or 4 years old. Males tend to be more easygoing than females. American Shorthairs have a short, lustrous coat in a range of colors and patterns. They are generally a healthy breed, but can be prone to heart disease (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM). This can be diagnosed with an echocardiogram.
Nikki Horner, creator of the Bombay breed, had in mind a cat that resembles the black leopard of India. She named the breed she developed from combining black American Shorthairs with Burmese, the Bombay, after the city in India. The Bombay is a medium-size cat, surprisingly heavy for its size, with a robust bone structure to support a powerful, muscular body. The coat is a deep, dense black with a high-gloss sheen and a short coat that is tight and sheds little. Eyes are large and anywhere from a deep, rich gold to copper. The Bombay combines the easy-going nature of the American Shorthair with the inquisitive, loving personality of the social Burmese. This cat loves the entire family, is particularly good with children and always ready to play. The Bombay gets on well with other pets with the proper introduction. Their craving for company means the Bombay is unhappy if let alone for long periods so consider getting another cat if you will be gone most of the day.
The Exotic Shorthair has all the looks and personality of the Persian without all the hair! American Shorthair breeders bred their cats with Persians to obtain their lovely silver color and green eyes. The kittens were pretty to look at but did not meet the true American Shorthair breed standards. The new cats looked just like Persians, but with a short, dense plush coat. Grooming is easy with simple combing to remove loose hair. Dust can irritate their large eyes, so they should be gently wiped. The easy-going Exotic Shorthair is an affectionate, gentle cat with the quiet manners of the Persian.
In the 1950s, British cat fanciers developed the rich brown cat called the Havana. They bred chocolate point and seal point Siamese with solid black domestic shorthairs and a dash of Russian Blue. The Havana comes in rich mahogany red-brown and pinkish grey or lilac, with matching whiskers. Both colors provide a stunning background for the Havana’s brilliant green eyes. The Havana is curious, playful and people-oriented. They favor attention, show a great deal of affection and want be part of everything you do. The breed is also known to be healthy and robust.
The Manx cat is best known for its lack of a tail. Some Manx cats may have a very short stub while others are missing a tail altogether. The Manx can come in a variety of coat colors/patterns though an all-white Manx is extremely rare. If you have a Manx, you will know that they are sociable and attached to humans, though they can be shy with strangers. They are extremely smart and playful, and can learn to fetch small objects and follow simple verbal commands. The Manx is also prized for their hunting skills making them valuable to farmers with rodents. Some partial tail Manx cats are prone to a form of arthritis that can cause severe pain. The Manx is also susceptible to "Manx syndrome," a condition in which the tailless gene shortens the spine causing serious damage to the spinal cord. They can also develop megacolon which is a reoccurring condition causing constipation that can be life threatening to the cat if not properly monitored. Photo ©Karen Weaver
Mixed breed cats date back to the Egyptian Pharaohs and perhaps before. Early cats tended to be somewhat uniform within a geographic area, but these became mixed as cats on sea-trading vessels often abandoned ship, joining the local feline population. Cats survived witch hunts of the 1500s and 1600s, though their numbers severely dwindled. As people realized that cats were valuable in curtailing rat populations and were good companion animals, their numbers grew and they were allowed to breed randomly. Mixed breed cats come in any color combination with short, medium or long hair. Personality may be based more on environment than ancestry. There is a “Household Pet” class in cat shows, and all mixed breeds are accepted; the only requirement is that the cat is well-cared for and content, and must be spayed or neutered.
Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a healthy, robust natural breed that developed over hundreds of years in Scandinavia. They are a slow-maturing breed that may take up to five years to reach full maturity.
• Intelligent and resourceful.
• Mild-mannered and adapt easily to surroundings.
• Very interactive cats and enjoy being part of their family.
• Love to play with anyone who enjoys a game!
Due to their large size they are often confused with Maine Coons. Like Maine Coons, they have a predisposition to heart disease and should have regular exams and heart screenings.
Orange cats (also known as ginger or marmalade) are not a specific breed, but a color that extends through multiple purebreds and mixed breeds. All orange cats have tabby markings; some lighter than others. There’s no such thing as a solid orange cat. The dilute version is cream or buff. Most orange cats are male, though females are not unheard of. Orange cats are usually outgoing and friendly. They tend to have more health issues than many other colors, including a tendency to develop allergies, dental disease and heart disease.
While the history of the Persian breed is mainly unrecorded, what is known is that it has been around for centuries. The Persian has a sweet, gentle nature and prefers a calm atmosphere and gentle handling. Their long and thick coat requires special care, including daily combing and regular baths to prevent matting and hairballs. While tangles and mats are unsightly, they are also uncomfortable for the cat and can tug at the skin. They can be painful to remove. Persians are predisposed to heart disease, dental disease (due to their small crowded mouths), and respiratory problems due to the narrow nostrils from their flat face. Persians are extremely intelligent which helps them adjust easily to both the home and the show ring.
The unique folded ears of the Scottish Fold give it an owl-like look. About half of all Scottish Fold kittens develop the fold within 18 to 24 days after birth. The rest, called “straight-eared Folds,” are just as wonderfully sweet and usually a bit less expensive! Scottish Folds come in all colors and patterns, and in long- and short-hair. Copper eyes are most common. The first Scottish Fold was a barn cat named Susie. Susie was a solid white longhaired female, bred to Persians, American Shorthairs, Exotic Shorthairs and Burmese. Every Scottish Fold can trace his or her ancestry back to Susie. Scottish Folds are intelligent, inquisitive and loyal to their family. Most folded eared Folds sit up like prairie dogs when they hear a sound. It’s cute to see a Fold sitting up like a human, referred to as "the Buddha sit."
The Serengeti is a preliminary new breed developed around 1995 by a conservation biologist who crossed a Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. The Serengeti is extremely agile, very active and loves heights. They can also be quite vocal and gladly talk with you about almost any subject. If properly introduced, they get along well with other pets. The Serengeti is a medium-sized cat, similar to the Oriental Short hair, but larger boned with longer legs. The coat is short and tight, usually yellow to gold, with widely-spaced black spots. Less common colors are solid black or silver with black spots. Still a new breed, the Serengeti is not known to experience any breed specific health concerns.
The majestic Siberian is powerfully built with strong hindquarters enabling these cats to jump exceptionally high. They are a slow-maturing breed reaching full magnificence at about 5 years of age. But for all their strength, these gentle cats enjoy playing and clowning around. They also have a wonderful depth to their purr and talk to you with a chirping sound. While considered a semi-longhair, the Siberian's coat varies. In the winter, it’s coat is thick and full, which would have protected the Siberian from the elements in its native Russia. In summer, the coat becomes shorter and less dense with a variety of colors and patterns making these cats a dramatic stand out. Siberian cats are generally robust with good health. However, the breed can be prone to heart disease that affects a number of purebred cat breeds. Female Siberians are also prone to urinary tract infections.
The Singapura, one of the smallest cat breeds, does not develop to full size until almost 2 years old. Noted for its large eyes and ears, ticked coat and blunt tail, the Singapura takes its name from the Malay name for Singapore. This feline is curious, playful, and affectionate and loves human interaction. They tend to enchant people as well as other animals. Don’t be surpirised to find your Singapura kitty perched on high places where they go to get a better view of their surroundings. The Singapura is a healthy breed with no known genetic health problems. Pregnanet females can sometimes have difficulty giving birth due to weak uterine muscles.
The Snowshoe can be traced to the early 1960s when a litter of Siamese kittens, each with four white feet, were bred with the American Shorthair. The Snowshoe is known by the popular white 'V' facial markings. However, Snowshoe kittens are born totally white. The point coloring develops in a few weeks and the tail, legs, head and ears darken as the kitten ages. The most common colors are seal point and blue point. Eye color ranges from sparkling blue to pale blue-gray. Most Snowshoes form a primary bond with their chosen person while still maintaining friendships with other people. They like to be near their primary person, but unlike a dog, prefer to lead than to follow. Being “owned” by a Snowshoe is something you have to experience to appreciate!
The Sphynx is an inquisitive, intelligent and extremely friendly cat. Many Sphynx owners describe their cats as elf-like or childlike due to their inquisitive and intelligent nature.
The Sphynx is recognized as being a healthy robust breed. Warm and soft to the touch, but because of their hairlessness, Sphynx cats have a tendency to get cold. They are intelligent enough to find a warm place - usually a computer monitor, sunny window, television or under a blanket with their person. At the same time, a Sphynx should not be left outside as they can develop sunburn and skin damage, and have limited means to conserve body heat.
Trouble is a beautiful Sphynx whose person is Marian Collins-Steding.
Tonkinese cats are crossbred between Siamese and Burmese breeds. They are distinguished by color points with three coat patterns: mink, solid and pointed. Common colors are platinum, champagne, blue and natural. Eye color varies from gold or blue-green in solid Tonkinese cats, blue in pointed and aqua in mink cats. Tonkinese are like Burmese in temperament; less high-strung and demanding than Siamese with less-piercing voices. They are lively, friendly and talkative with gregarious personalities, and can live indoors if given enough exercise. The Tonkinese craves, and returns, affection and companionship. They are typically heavier than they appear to be, due to their muscular bodies. While Tonkinese are not known for breed-related health problems, they have been known to sometimes be sensitive to anesthesia and vaccines.
The Toyger breed was developed from a striped domestic shorthair cat and a Bengal to resemble the wild tiger in a housecat package! As with tigers, the Toyger has vivid markings on a bright orange background with white on the undersides and insides. These dramatic patterns are unique to each cat like a fingerprint. This distinctive new breed of cat also resembles a tiger with its long, deep body, big bones and high shoulders. Males typically weigh 10 to 15 pounds; females 7 to 10 pounds. Toygers are friendly, outgoing and delight in being with people. They are highly intelligent and interactive, and get along well with other pets. Easy to train, Toygers can be taught to walk on a leash and play fetch. Their laid-back demeanors make them easy to live with, bringing you a sense of having truly tamed the wild!
Tortoiseshell (or Tortie) cats are not a particular breed, but rather possess a unique coat pattern of orange, chocolate and black with few or no white markings. Cats with the same brindled coat, but with muted cream, buff and blue are known as “Dilute Torties.” These tortoiseshell markings appear in many different breeds as well as in non-purebred domestic cats. Torties are almost always female; males are an extremely rare genetic mutation that are always sterile. Along with their distinctive coloring, Torties have a reputation for their unique personalities, sometimes referred to as "tortitude." They tend to be extremely smart and strong-willed, can be hot-tempered and very possessive of their human. They are also usually talkative and make their presence and needs clearly known.
Ragamuffins are described as “ideal” for first-time cat owners due to their relaxed and warm dispositions. They are family-oriented and quickly bond with children and other pets. Ragamuffins do not make good outdoor cats because they are slow to defend themselves and even in intense play, rarely put out their claws. Ragamuffins have long, plush coats in a variety of colors and patterns. Their silky coats can get matted if left un-groomed, but they are otherwise low-maintenance and generally healthy with regular veterinary visits.
A polydactyl cat has a genetically inherited trait that results in extra toes. Normally, cats have 5 toes on each front foot and 4 toes on each back foot. Polydactyls have extra toes, most commonly on the front paws only. The condition is mostly found in cats living along the East Coast of the U.S., in Southwest England and Wales. Originally a genetic mutation in Europe, these cats were recognized as extraordinary hunters and mousers, so they were used to control rodents aboard ships heading to the colonies. Author Ernest Heminway was one of the more famous lovers of polydactyl cats, after being given a six-toed cat by a ship's captain. Polydactyls have become known as "Hemingway Kitty Cats", or "Hemingway Cats." Polydactyly does not cause any health issues, though some nails may grow abnormally, and can become ingrown and painful without regular trimming.
With a name meaning "blue eyes" in Spanish, it’s no wonder that the most prominent feature of this rare breed is its brilliant, dark-blue eyes. Ojos Azules is a relatively new breed of cat that originated in New Mexico in the 1980s. Their coats are frequently tortoiseshell, with long or short coats that require minimal brushing. These beautiful cats are friendly, outgoing and active. They would be a wonderful addition to any home with or without other pets. Given their rarity, it may be challenging to find an accredited breeder
LaPerm was discovered in 1982 when a brown tabby gave birth to a litter with a new Rex mutation: a long, skinny, hairless kitten that when mature, grew a soft wavy coat. LaPerm’s coat has loose, light, airy curls and bouncy ringlets that feel like mohair. The breed is low shedding which makes maintenance a breeze. The coat does not mat easily as there is little undercoat and the curl holds much of the loose coat to the body rather than dropping to the floor and furniture. These active, outgoing cats like to be with their humans and join in on everything. Their affectionate, loving nature means they get on well with children and other family pets.
Black cats can be mixed breed or purebred. The all-black pigmentation is equally prevalent in male and female cats. The most common eye color is yellow. Folklore surrounding black cats varies. In some countries like Great Britain, Ireland and Japan, black cats symbolize good luck. In colonial America, black cats were associated with witchcraft. Today, black cats are often adopted in lower numbers than other cats at shelters. At Halloween, shelters turn down adopters looking for black cats, and families with black cats are encouraged to keep them indoors since they are commonly used in holiday pranks and rituals.
Pronounced shar-TROO, this rare French breed known for its lovely blue-grey coat, copper eyes and gentle temperament, dates to the 16th century. The adult Chartreux can weigh 12 - 16 pounds and has a dense, short coat that’s water repellent and requires minimal brushing. In general, the Chartreux is not a talkative breed, preferring to purr occasionally but rarely ever meow. The Chartreux is generally friendly to strangers and tolerant of children and other pets, and makes a wonderful addition to a home looking for a quiet, calm companion cat! If you are getting your Chartreux from a breeder, know that they are prone to hereditary patellar luxation (kneecap displacement passed on genetically) so find out as much as you can about the cat’s family history.
African Shorthair (Sokoke)
These rare, independent, spirited cats are active athletes requiring a lot of vertical space for climbing and acrobatics. Although these beautiful cats can adapt to life in a smaller home, they would do best with access to an outdoor enclosure for climbing and mental stimulation. Unlike many other cat breeds they also like to swim!
African Shorthairs are generally sociable towards other cats and dogs. Their natural intelligence, coupled with their social attitudes make them great candidates for people who like to train cats. Generally healthy, the Sokoke usually only requires regular brushing and veterinary visits, just like any cat!
Image published under the Wikimedia Creative Commons License - Sokoke
Birmans, first recognized in France, came to the U.S. in the 1960s. They are a medium to medium-large longhaired “pointed” cat meaning their bodies are light-colored with darker colored “points” on paws, tail, ears and face. Their long, soft, almost silky coat comes in many colors with white gloves on all feet and “laces” extending up the back legs. The Birman is a great family, fits well in a single cat home or with many cat friends, and makes a great buddy, friend, confidant and purr-fect pet. Birmans are a generally healthy breed, but can be predisposed to allergies and eye problems.
The Ocicat was developed accidentally in 1964 by a breeder trying to create a Siamese with points the same color as an Abyssinian. Instead, the result was a lovely ivory kitten with golden spots who looked like an Ocelot.
The Ocicat is full of energy, very adaptable and easily learns household rules. It’s also very social and unhappy if left alone for long periods. An active household is best. All Ocicats are spotted and come in brown/ black, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac and fawn plus the silver version of these colors. They have low maintenance coats and need only weekly brushing. Ocicats are prone to heart disease so regular screening echocardiograms are recommended.
The Egyptian Mau breed is thought to have
originated in Italy in the 1950s and is descended
from cats brought from Egypt. The Mau, a
relatively rare breed, is slender and muscular,
and slightly shorter in the front than in back.
Maus have a skin fold under the belly, similar to
that of the cheetah, which helps make them fast
One of the most recognizable traits of the breed is the long, dark, dorsal stripe that runs along the cat’s spine, from head to tail Maus come in five colors: silver, bronze, smoke, black and blue/pewter.
The Mau is loyal and friendly. It is also more temperature sensitive than most breeds being fond of very warm places. Maus are also more sensitive to medicines and anesthesia.
One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine Coon is regarded as a native of Maine and is the official Maine state cat. It’s believed that the breed originated from shorthaired domestic cats and longhairs introduced by New England seamen or brought to America by Vikings.
While Maine Coons are highly people-oriented, they are not overly-dependent. They do not constantly seek attention, but prefer to "hang out" with their human, investigating whatever activities are going on and "helping" when they can.
The Maine Coon’s semi-longhair glossy coat is heavy and water-resistant, and comes in nearly all colors and patterns; the most common is brown classic or mackerel tabby. At maturity, males can average 13-18 pounds and females 9-13 pounds.
The earliest written reference to the Turkish Angora is in 16th century France where they were well represented in the late 1800s/early 1900s at the dawn of the cat fancy in Europe. These outgoing affectionate cats are interested in everything you do and want to help. They are happy to have other pets around as long as they recognize the Turkish Angora as the boss! The Turkish Angora has a semi-longhaired soft, silky coat that rarely mats. While white is the color traditionally associated with the Turkish Angora, they come in a plethora of colors. Turkish Angoras are generally healthy, but solid white cats with one or two blue eyes are prone to deafness in one or both ears. Other problems seen in the breed are ataxia (a neurological dysfunction that affects parts of the nervous system) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a form of heart disease).
Devon Rex cats trace their ancestry back to Kirlee, a feral cat with a curly coat, who lived in an abandoned tin mine in Devon, England. Devon Rex cats are intelligent, mischievous and playful. They want to be involved in everything, are very people-oriented and get along well with children and other pets. However, do not leave your Devon Rex home alone for long periods as this breed can become destructive if they get bored. Devon Rexes are muscular mid-sized cats. Their soft, short, curly coats vary from a tousled mop of curls to a thin suede-like coat.
The Balinese is a Siamese with a long coat, but they are really so much more! The Balinese has a single coat that lies close to its long, slim body, which rarely tangles or mats. The Balinese comes in a variety of colors and patterns from the commonly known seal point to the rare lilac tabby and white point. Balinese have loving temperaments and bond closely with their families ad get along well with children and other pets. . They demand lots of attention and get into mischief so should not be left alone for long periods. The Balinese doesn’t have any major breed-related health issues, though at the Cat Practice, we see more allergies and dental disease in this type of breed. Image source: wiki/File:Ghislaine_6028.jpg
The origins of the Siamese have been lost, but it’s fairly certain to have an eastern origin. Manuscripts depicting pictures of pale-coated cats with a black mask, tail, feet and ears date back to 1350. Siamese cats are perfect for someone who wants a pet who loves interaction and activity. They are also wonderful with children and other pets, are very intelligent and known for being vocal. Nothing about the Siamese’s appearance is round. It’s angular in every way. In contrast with all of the long physical features, its coat is short, glossy and sleek, lying close to the body with a fine texture. Siamese tend to be heavy tartar producers and need more than average dental care.
The Munchkin achieved championship status in The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2003.
These sociable cats are extremely playful and love to run, chase and play with toys. They love company including children, dogs and other pets. Munchkins are extremely curious and will sit up on their hind legs like a rabbit to get a better view of something that has caught their attention.
Munchkins come in short and long coat lengths and numerous colors and patterns. They are small to medium-sized, weighing between 5 and 9 pounds when fully grown. Their short legs are a natural mutation that shortens the leg bones, similar to the mutation that gives Corgis and Dachshunds their short stature.
Munchkins are a generally healthy breed. While there were concerns that the breed would develop spinal problems seen in short-legged dog breeds, studies have not confirmed this.
The Himalayan is considered a color variation of the Persian rather than a distinct breed. Known for its blue eyes and point coloration, the Himalayan comes in two types: 1) traditional / doll-face and 2) peke-faced with more squashed-looking facial features.
Himalayans are mostly white or cream. Points are black, blue, lilac, chocolate, red or cream with a tabby, lynx or tortoiseshell-pattern. Like many long-haired cats, Himalayans need brushing daily and may need their faces wiped.
“Himmies” are sweet-tempered, intelligent and social with a playful side. They tend to be more active than Persians. Some Himalayans may have the gene that causes Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). A genetic test can reveal which cats carry the PKD gene.
Photo credit: By Asilverstein [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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*Any purebred or mixed breed can experience any of these health conditions. The ones marked are at increased risk.
**Dental disease is common in most purebred cats, as well as many mixed breeds.