You probably weren't thinking of health history when the beauty and personality of your Himalayan captured your heart. Her uniquely beautiful markings reveal her Siamese background but her Persian heritage negates the detached attitude. This attractive package does, however, come with potential health issues owners should consider.
The Himalayan's flat pug-style nose, which makes its appearance so darn cute, is also one of its medical downfalls. VetInfo tells us that the compression of the sinuses and nasal passages associated with this style of nose makes breathing more difficult and leaves the Himalayan more vulnerable to upper respiratory infections. Pet Insurance also tells us that Himalayans have shortened sinus cavities, which further increase the possibility of breathing difficulty.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
This disorder, in which cysts form inside the kidneys, taking the place of functional tissue, is not immediately life-threatening, according to petMD. However, it is painful and has no cure. This is not the best of news for owners of Himalayan cats, which are members of the Persian bloodline for which this disorder is hereditary. The good news, as reported by Vetstreet, is that DNA testing is available and breeders are working toward eliminating cats with these genes from breeding stock. While veterinarians do not remove complete cysts from the kidneys, it is possible to drain larger cysts, thus providing some temporary relief. Specialized diets help reduce the workload of the kidneys, according to Pet Insurance, prolonging an affected cat's life.
Saggy and Painful Skin
In veterinary terms, this disorder is known as feline cutaneous asthenia. It is also commonly referred to as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. According to petMD, it is a deficiency in collagen—the protein responsible for providing strength and elasticity to skin and ligaments. It is a genetic disorder that reputable breeders are attempting to eliminate. Because DNA testing is currently unavailable for this health problem, breeders can remove affected stock from breeding programs only once the disorder makes it appearance. Detecting the disorder involves stretching a cat's skin and observing the level of discomfort she shows. A measurement scale called the Skin Extensibility Index compares how far the cat's skin can be comfortably stretched against measurements of the length of its back to determine if the condition is present. If it is, it will lead to joint dislocation and significant pain as the ligament fibers holding joints in place can no longer do so. According to petMD, the majority of cats suffering from this disorder are euthanized to end their suffering.
At first glance, hairballs may seem more like a social problem than a health problem—especially when Kitty is leaving a less-than-lovely mess on the floor. But VetInfo suggests that the beautiful long hair of a Himalayan does pose some threat when ingested. A large hairball in Kitty's tummy could cause an intestinal blockage requiring emergency surgery. The best way to avoid jumbo hairballs is to brush your feline friend every day to remove loose hair, reducing the number of strands sticking to Kitty's tongue during her own grooming procedures.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.