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28.08.2022

Siberian cat health issues—what to watch out for

Siberian cats are a hardy breed with a muscular physique and robust frame. Despite that, they are still susceptible to a few hereditary diseases and some lifestyle-related problems.

Untamed explains what Siberian cat health issues you can expect and how to keep them under control or prevent them entirely.

Common Siberian cat health problems

Siberian cats are generally healthy, especially females, with an average lifespan of 10 to 18 years. With proper care and diet, these kitties can easily live longer.

Unfortunately, even the most resilient breeds are not immune to some genetic diseases and disorders.

Here is what to watch out for:

  1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  2. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  3. Hereditary cancer
  4. Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)
  5. Gum disease

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Heart disease is a common congenital disease in Siberian cats.

Source: Ali Khalil

HCM can affect all cat breeds, but it is prevalent in Siberian cats and can even affect kittens. It is a severe condition that causes the heart walls to thicken, making it difficult for the organ to function properly. The heart weakens and can't efficiently move blood around the cat's body. HCM eventually leads to blood clot formation, fluid accumulation in the lungs, or heart failure.

Here are the usual risk factors and common symptoms:

Risk factors

Common symptoms

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Gender (males are more susceptible)
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Panting or laboured breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Immobility in the hind legs caused by blood clots
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart murmur

When the first symptoms appear, the disease has already progressed significantly. Fortunately, early diagnosis is possible with an ultrasound, so it's advisable to have your kitty checked regularly. The condition can be successfully managed with an appropriate diet and medication.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

PKD is a genetic mutation causing cyst formation in the kidneys. These tiny cysts tend to grow and multiply, affecting the functioning of the kidneys and eventually leading to renal failure. This condition used to be common in Persian cats, but it spread to Siberians when breeders introduced Persians to the Siberian breeding programme.

It is a hereditary disease, so cysts form at the kitten's birth. The condition generally starts causing problems later in life, around the age of seven.

Typical symptoms include:

You can do nothing to prevent PKD, revert kidney damage, or cure the disease. Thankfully, it's possible to slow the progression, prolong the affected feline's life by quite a few years, and significantly improve their quality of life with a proper diet and medication.

Hereditary cancer in Siberian cats

Pure white Siberian cats are at a higher risk of hereditary cancer.

Source: Em Hopper

The genetic form of cancer predominantly affects white Siberian cats. The risk increases if a cat is a descendant of the pedigree lineage of "Gesha Olenya Krasa" and "Dolka Olenya Krasa."

This type of cancer is caused by the Oncogene—cancer-causing gene. The good news is that early diagnosis and the right treatment can maintain the affected feline's longevity. Routine check-ups can help detect specific forms of cancer before they become severe, and a balanced diet is advisable to maintain the cat's overall health.

Below are the common symptoms that may indicate cancerous development and potential treatment options:

Common symptoms

Treatment options

  • Lumps
  • Unusual odour
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Stiffness in the body
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty eating
  • Defecation problems
  • High temperature
  • Strange bodily discharge
  • Drugs
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy

Keep in mind that the symptoms mentioned above can also indicate other conditions because hereditary cancer is not that common. Take your feline friend to the vet if you notice anything unusual since they can set the correct diagnosis.

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is an umbrella term for several conditions affecting a feline's lower urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra.

The most common types of FLUTD are:

The good news is that most FLUTDs are not life-threatening, although painful and uncomfortable. If left untreated, they can cause severe consequences, so take your Siberian to the vet if you suspect anything.

Usual risk factors include:

Check out the table below to learn about the common symptoms and diagnoses:

Common symptoms

Diagnosis methods

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Excessive genital licking
  • Avoiding the litter box
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Radiograph
  • Ultrasound
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine culture

Gum disease

Siberian cats are more susceptible to dental problems than other breeds.

Source: Вера Мезенкова

All cats can suffer from dental issues. The usual culprit is a vitamin and mineral deficiency caused by an inadequate diet. Siberians, Persians, Maine Coons, Himalayans, and British Shorthairs seem especially prone to gum disease.

You can help prevent tartar build-up and inflammation with:

  • Frequent teeth brushing
  • Regular dental checks
  • Small portions of dry food to scrape the build-up

If your kitty's health starts to suffer and the pain and discomfort make them unable to eat, teeth extraction is the only option. After the teeth removal, a diet change will be necessary, and switching from dry food to wet meals is the only solution.

Lifestyle-related health problems

Diet and lifestyle play a significant role in your furry friend’s health. If you feed your Siberian cat low-quality food and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, they can suffer from:

  1. Obesity
  2. Food allergies
  3. Diabetes

Obesity

Obesity is a massive problem among indoor cats because of their sedentary lifestyle. Overweight felines become even more inactive, so losing excess weight is quite a challenge.

Obese cats can be easily affected by various life-threatening illnesses that significantly reduce your kitty's quality of life, including:

Food allergies

Obesity and food allergies are frequent diet-related problems in felines.

Image (c) Untamed

Commercially sold cat food contains various ingredients that can cause allergic reactions in your Siberian cat.

Allergic reactions are a feline's body's way of combating an ingredient perceived as harmful even though it is not really dangerous. Common allergens and typical reactions include:

Common allergens

Manifestations

  • Beef
  • Additives
  • Artificial colourants
  • Taste enhancers
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Environmental allergens (such as grass pollen)
  • Insect bites and fleas
  • Skin inflammation typically around the head and neck:
    • Excessive scratching and licking
    • Hair loss
    • Raw skin patches
    • Open wounds
  • Gastrointestinal issues:

Diabetes

Diabetic cats can't produce or adequately regulate insulin, which leads to persistently high blood sugar levels.

The usual risk factors include:

  • Obesity—Overweight felines are at four times higher risk of developing diabetes
  • Age—Older cats are at a greater risk
  • Gender—Males are more susceptible to diabetes
  • The use of glucocorticoids—Felines who suffer from asthma and receive steroid treatment are more likely to get diabetes

The usual symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss

How to keep your Siberian cat healthy with good nutrition

Meat- and fish-based diets with a hint of animal fat provide all the necessary nutrients for felines to be healthy.

Image (c) Untamed

Knowing what your Siberian cat should eat, what they must avoid as well as how much and how often to feed them is crucial for their health.

A well-balanced diet for your feline should be:

  1. High in animal protein
  2. Low in carbs
  3. Hydrating

The first item on the ingredient list should be a source of animal protein, such as:

Animal fat is also welcome because it adds the taste felines adore, keeps their fur healthy and luscious, and ensures good nutrient transportation and utilisation. Ham, pork, and bacon in moderate quantities are good fat sources.

Opting for wet cat food will ensure your kitty is hydrated, which helps avoid UTIs and kidney problems. As felines are not avid water drinkers, ensuring they get enough moisture through food is vital.

Compare the moisture content of wet and dry meals in the following table:

Type of food

Moisture content

Wet food

Over 75%

Dry food

About 10%

Given how important it is to keep your Siberian cat at a healthy weight, you should skip foods containing high-calorie ingredients, such as sugar and grains. It is also best to avoid vegetable protein sources, including:

Felines can't digest them because they are obligate carnivores, so carbs can only cause stomach problems.

The ideal diet for your Siberian cats should consist of:

Nutrient group

Recommended percentage

Animal protein

Minimum 50%

Animal fat

Maximum 20%

Carbohydrates

Less than 3%

Why is Untamed the perfect option?

Untamed provides all your cat needs from food.

Image (c) Untamed

Untamed knows that the healthiest diet for your Siberian cat resembles their natural eating habits, so we ensure that all our products are:

Order Untamed today and see your Siberian cat's health improve quickly!

How to order

Ordering healthy cat food online could not be easier with Untamed.

All you should do is:

  1. Complete the online questionnaire
  2. Choose the products that fit your Siberian cat's needs and preferences
  3. Place your order

The package will arrive at your door in a day. Once your kitty approves of the new diet, we can send you regular monthly supplies with free shipping.

You can easily change, postpone, or cancel your order whenever you like.

According to numerous satisfied cat parents, once your Siberian cat joins the Untamed clowder, you can expect the following improvements:

Timeline

The results

After a week

  • Easy digestion
  • Tidy litter tray

Within two months

  • Good mood
  • Luscious coat
  • Reduced shedding

After four months

  • Leaner, more muscular physique
  • Fewer annoying hairballs
  • No food allergies

Long-term