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5 Tips For Feline Genetic Disease Prevention

Follow our Dr. Treat team’s five cat preventive care tips to help your feline friend live their best life.

Dr Treat
5 Tips For Feline Genetic Disease Prevention

Key takeaway

About 250 genetic (i.e. hereditary) diseases can affect cats, who are skilled at masking their illness signs, making us guess whether they are feeling ill. Do not wait for your cat to show disease signs—prevent them altogether with Dr. Treat’s progressive veterinary care approach based on customized preventive medicine.

C
at lovers, mark your calendars—August 8 is International Cat Day, and our Dr. Treat team is here for it!

What better way to celebrate your fabulous feline friend than to ensure your cat lives a long, healthy life? About 250 genetic (i.e. hereditary) diseases can affect cats, who are skilled at masking their illness signs, making us guess whether they are feeling ill. Do not wait for your cat to show disease signs—prevent them altogether with Dr. Treat’s progressive veterinary care approach based on customized preventive medicine. 

By recognizing common genetic feline disease signs and providing adequate preventive care, you can optimize your cat’s health and wellness. Follow our Dr. Treat team’s five cat preventive care tips to help your feline friend live their best life. 

#1: Get ahead of your cat’s health risks

You know your cat better than anyone else, and by understanding their disease risk and learning to identify an illness’s early signs, you can consult with your cat’s veterinary team before a condition becomes advanced, and ensure their best health outcome. 

Your cat’s DNA contains valuable information about their health and genetic disease risk.  Genetic testing is key to revealing your cat’s potential health conditions so your veterinarian can proactively treat them, likely extending their life. Our Dr. Treat team has partnered with Basepaws, a feline genetics database, to compare your cat’s unique DNA against a broad array of points, providing you and your veterinarian with the best information and resources for maintaining your cat’s health. 

#2: Learn about common genetic diseases in cats

Any cat can develop a genetic disease, and purebreds have the highest risk. The feline population has hundreds of genetic conditions—not all of which can be tested for—and the following are the most common:

  • Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) —  Cats with FLUTD may experience uncomfortable and frequent urination that can recur throughout their life. Genetics, combined with cats’ FLUTD risk factors—stress and obesity—help veterinary professionals determine which cats will likely develop the disease.
  • Diabetes — Although any cat can develop diabetes, the Burmese breed has the highest risk. Diabetes symptoms include increased thirst and urination, and weight loss. Diabetic cats may require daily insulin injections. 
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) — PKD causes cats’ kidneys to develop numerous fluid-filled cysts that can grow so large they replace most of the kidney tissue, and can lead to kidney failure.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (i.e., heart disease) — Heart disease is a leading cause of death in cats. Researchers believe a genetic defect causes the heart muscle to thicken and stiffen, reducing this vital organ’s blood pumping ability.
  • Manx syndrome — A genetic mutation that codes for tail development causes Manx syndrome, and afflicted cats are born with a very short or no tail. Manx syndrome can also cause cats health conditions that adversely affect their kidneys, spine, and eyes.
  • Deafness — Some cats who have white fur and blue eyes have a genetic mutation linked to deafness. This abnormal gene’s heredity is complex, and not all cats who have this mutation are deaf.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) —PRA is a genetic disease that causes the retina—the layer of nerve cells at the back of the eye that detects light and images—to slowly degenerate. As the retina degenerates, the cat's vision progressively worsens until they become blind.

#3: Schedule regular veterinary examinations for your cat

Your cat’s regular veterinary exams are critical to maintaining their health, so your veterinarian can detect disease—including genetic conditions—in the early stages when they are easier to treat. Stay on top of your cat’s health by scheduling their wellness exam at least once per year (we recommend biannual exams). Your veterinarian will complete your cat’s whiskers-to-tail examination, evaluating the following:

  • Dental health
  • Nutrition
  • Ears 
  • Eyes
  • Internal organs
  • Behavior
  • Coat and skin

Many cats feel anxious when they visit their veterinarian, and to help ease your feline friend’s fears, all Dr. Treat team members are trained in Fear Free handling techniques. In addition, our clinic is specifically designed with your pet’s comfort in mind.

#4: Monitor your cat’s dental health

Maintaining your cat’s dental health is an important key to their preventive care. Studies have shown that more than 50% of cats develop dental disease by 4 years of age. Poor dental health can lead to many health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, and heart disease. Fortunately, you can help keep your cat’s teeth healthy by providing:

  • A healthy diet — Good nutrition is the foundation of good dental health.
  • A teeth cleaning routine — When your cat is young, establish their at-home teeth cleaning routine.  
  • Regular sniff tests —  Bad breath is a sure sign your cat has dental issues.
  • Regular dental exams — Cats need a dental checkup at least at once a year to maintain optimal dental health.
  • Dental cleanings — Regular dental cleanings can slow plaque buildup, which can lead to more serious dental problems. Veterinary dentists recommend that cats have their first preventive dental cleaning by 2 years of age. 

#5: Ensure your cat’s vaccinations and parasite preventive medications are current 

Vaccinations are an important part of your cat’s preventive health care foundation, and all cats should be vaccinated against common diseases such as rabies, feline leukemia, and feline distemper. To protect your cat from serious diseases, ensure you adhere to your veterinarian’s recommended feline vaccination schedule. 

In addition to being vaccinated, your cat should receive their year-round parasite preventive medications, which are vital to disease prevention. While some parasites carry deadly diseases, all parasites pose a potential health risk to your cat and to you. You can avoid parasites and the diseases they spread by ensuring your cat receives their regular veterinary care and parasite prevention treatments.

Final Notes

Maintain your cat’s health by ensuring they receive the veterinary care necessary to prevent their potential genetic conditions. Walk into our clinic and get a genetic test to help your cat avoid adverse health conditions with our personalized, data-driven comprehensive veterinary care. 

Written by:

Dr Treat

A veterinary practice that is reimagining the approach to the health and wellbeing of companion animals.

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