Brachycephalia: what you need to know

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is the medical term given to various breathing problems found in short-nosed, flat-faced cat breeds. Himalayans, Exotic Shorthairs and Persians are classified as brachycephalic.

What are the signs of brachycephalia?

Symptoms of an obstructed upper airway may include:

  • snoring
  • a rapid heartbeat
  • noisy breathing when inhaling
  • frequent panting
  • difficulty eating or swallowing
  • coughing and gagging
  • inability to perform physical activity, especially in warm weather

How is brachycephalia treated?

Treatment isn’t necessary unless your cat’s brachycephalia is affecting their quality of life. Talk to your vet if you’re concerned.

They may recommend surgery – including widening narrowed nostrils, shortening an elongated palate and removing tonsils. It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before starting any treatment.

How do I manage my cat’s brachycephalia?

You will need to avoid risk factors as much as practically possible. Try to keep your cat cool during warm humid weather and watch out for common allergens like fleas, pollen and household dust.

Keep an eye on your cat’s weight – obesity can make respiratory problems worse.

If you’re thinking of adopting a brachycephalic cat

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new cat and ask for more details on how the condition has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any cat who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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