What are Common Genetic Diseases in Cats?

Inherited Diseases: What are Common Genetic Diseases in Cats?

What is it?

Common genetic diseases in cats are conditions that are passed down from one generation to the next through genetic mutations. These diseases can affect various parts of the body, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, and may have varying degrees of severity. Identifying genetic diseases in cats can help owners and veterinarians take proactive steps to manage and prevent complications from these conditions.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of genetic diseases in cats depends on the specific condition and the severity of symptoms. In some cases, treatment may involve management of symptoms with medications, dietary modifications, or lifestyle changes. In other cases, more advanced treatments such as surgery or gene therapy may be necessary.

Breed Predispositions

Persian Maine Coon Siamese


During a routine veterinary check-up for her beloved Maine Coon cat, Fluffy, Sarah learned that her feline companion was predisposed to a genetic disease common among her breed. Concerned for Fluffy’s long-term health and well-being, Sarah decided to educate herself about common genetic diseases in cats and the potential impact they could have on her pet’s life.

Genetic diseases occur when a cat inherits a genetic mutation from its parents. As a result, the cat may be born with a physical defect or illness.

Some defective genes are common in particular purebred cats, including Maine Coon cats, Siamese, Persians, British Shorthairs, Sphynxes, and Ragdoll cats. In addition, many of these cats may be predisposed to specific genetic disorders.

Some inherited disorders are easily detected early in life when symptoms appear. Others develop later in life, often causing pain and suffering. Some genetic abnormalities in cats cause no symptoms at all until adulthood. Therefore, early detection is critical.

Several genetic disorders are fatal, while others may only be mildly debilitating. The severity depends on the abnormal gene involved and the age at which symptoms appear.

Cats are particularly susceptible to some common inherited diseases because they are born with incompletely formed immune systems. As a result, they’re especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, including feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, and toxoplasmosis.

Types of Feline Genetic Diseases

There are two main categories of genetic diseases in cats: congenital (present at birth) and acquired (developed over time).

Congenital Diseases Include:

  • Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudiness in the eye’s lens, a common eye condition affecting dogs and cats. However, Burmese cats are more prone to eye disease and malformations. While cataracts aren’t life-threatening, they can lead to vision loss and blindness. Fortunately, several treatments are available for cataracts, including surgery and laser therapy.

It’s important to understand that cataracts develop over time, so early detection is critical. Regular exams are recommended to catch problems sooner rather than later. Cataract surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, although laser treatment is sometimes used instead.

Types of feline genetic diseases
  • Deafness

Deafness is a condition that affects hearing in cats, and it can range from mild to severe.

It’s important to understand that deafness in cats can affect both ears separately or together. Some cats with congenital deafness have normal vision, while others experience partial blindness. In addition, there are several types of deafness in cats, including sensorineural, conductive, mixed, and progressive.

Sensorineural deafness occurs when the inner ear does not function properly. Cats with this type of deafness usually respond to sound by moving their heads toward the noise source. Conductive deafness occurs when the eardrum becomes damaged and causes fluid buildup inside the middle ear. Mixed deafness involves damage to both the inner ear and the eardrum. Finally, progressive deafness refers to the gradual loss of hearing over time.

Vets can perform hearing tests to identify and confirm if your cat suffers from deafness and provide specific treatments available.

  • Heart defects

Cats are prone to heart failure like humans, and congenital heart disease (CHD) is no exception. CHD is a type of heart disease that occurs when the heart does not develop properly during fetal development.

Most cases of CHD are diagnosed early in life, but sometimes symptoms aren’t noticed until later in life. Some common clinical signs of CHD include coughing, exercise intolerance, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and sudden death.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is another disease inherited by most cats. It is a heart condition in which the myocardium (heart muscle) enlarges and thickens. This can cause heart movement problems, including arrhythmias (irregularities in a heartbeat), congestive heart failure, and death.

  • Kidney disorders

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a common genetic disorder in cats. In the past, up to 50% or more of Persian cats may have been affected by this disease, frequently resulting in chronic kidney disease and premature death of affected cats. Kidney disease in Persian cats causes cysts to form inside the kidneys, causing them to enlarge over time. The enlarged kidneys may eventually fail, requiring euthanasia.

If left untreated, PKD can lead to renal failure and death. Fortunately, treatments are available to help control the symptoms of PKD and prevent complications.

There are two types of PKD: autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), which occurs in 50% of affected cats, and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, which occurs in 25% of affected cats. Both forms of PKD cause cysts to grow throughout the body, including the liver, pancreas, spleen, heart, lungs, and brain.

To treat your cat, modify their diet, fluid therapy, and medications are needed. Make sure you talk to your vet as soon as possible.

Acquired Diseases Include:

Acquired Diseases Include:
  • Cancer

Cancer is a term used to describe diseases involving uncontrolled cell growth. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

The most common cancers in cats include lymphoma, leukemia, mast cell tumors, mammary carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, fibrosarcoma, and melanomas. The most common type of cancer in cats is lymphoma, primarily in older male cats. Other types of cancer occur less frequently than lymphoma. Some types of cancer are inherited; however, many cancer cases are caused by environmental factors such as diet, stress, toxins, and infectious agents. In addition, some cancers are associated with certain breeds. For example, Siamese cats are at increased risk for developing skin masses or cancer.

  • Diabetes

The inherited feline diabetes mellitus (DM) in cats is caused by mutations in the insulin receptor gene (IR). The mutation causes increased insulin sensitivity, leading to hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia. This disease is similar to human type 2 DM. It is characterized by polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, ketosis, and acidosis. In addition, cats with this condition often develop nephropathy, retinopathy, and neuropathy.

Cats with DM are usually overweight and obese cats. They tend to overeat food and drink excessive amounts of water. Some cats with DM become diabetic when they are very young. Others develop DM later in life. Unfortunately, most cats with DM do not live long because of complications from their disease.

Diabetes in cats is commonly prevented by keeping them healthy, trying to avoid giving them a high carbohydrate diet, and trying to promote exercise.

  • Feline leukemia virus

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a common viral infection in domestic cats. FeLV causes cancerous tumors called lymphomas, which affect the immune system and cause severe illness and death in infected cats.

Cats contracting the feline leukemia virus may develop symptoms within weeks of exposure. Affected cats show symptoms including fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, depression, weight loss, enlarged spleen and liver, and swollen lymph nodes.

  • Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too many hormones. This causes the body to produce excessive amounts of heat. Clinical signs include weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, heart palpitations, and anxiety.

Cats who develop hyperthyroidism usually have some underlying cause, such as a tumor or infection. However, sometimes there’s no known reason.

There are two types of hyperthyroidism in cats: acquired and congenital. Acquired hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive due to an unknown cause. Congenital hyperthyroidism occurs because the thyroid gland fails to form correctly.

  • Obesity

One of the most common forms of obesity is acquired obesity, where animals develop excess weight after being fed a specific type of food. Acquired obesity is often identified in cats who eat dry cat foods. Dry cat foods contain very little water content, making them extremely calorie dense. As a result, cats who consume these types of diets tend to gain weight quickly.

Cats who become overweight may risk developing diabetes mellitus, heart disease, arthritis, skin problems, and cancer.

Cat owners should know about these common diseases because early detection and treatment can help prevent severe illness or death.

How do I know if my cat has a genetic disease?

How Do I Know if My Cat Has a Genetic Disease?

Ask your veterinarian to perform a thorough physical exam to determine whether your cat has a genetic disorder. The vet should examine your cat’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, gums, skin, hair coat, paws, tail, genitals, heart, lungs, abdomen, spine, joints, muscles, nervous system, and brain.

Your vet will recommend further testing if abnormalities are found during this examination. Your vet may suggest blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound exams, fecal examinations, urinalysis, electrocardiograms (EKGs), echocardiograms, and endoscopies.

Blood Work

Your veterinarian may be able to tell whether your cat has any genetic disorders based on blood work alone. However, there are some conditions where only a biopsy (a small tissue sample) can determine if your cat has an infectious disease.

A complete blood count (CBC) test measures the number of red and white blood cells, platelets, and other components of the blood. A CBC also helps identify certain diseases that affect the bone marrow. For example, neutropenic cats with bacterial infections often have low numbers of neutrophils, one type of white blood cell.

Your veterinarian may perform the following blood tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): A measurement of the total number of red and white cells, platelets, hemoglobin concentration, hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, reticulocytes, and erythrocyte indices.
  • Serum Chemistry Panel: Measures levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, glucose, urea nitrogen, creatinine, albumin, globulin, bilirubin, cholesterol, triglycerides, amylase, lipase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, and thyroxine.


Cats are very similar to humans when it comes to genetics. They share many similarities, including the same number of chromosomes (22) and DNA sequence. This means veterinarians can use X-rays to detect bone disease.

However, there are some differences between cats and humans. For example, cats’ bones are thinner, making them more susceptible to fractures. Also, cats cannot speak, so veterinarians must rely on body language and behavior to determine whether a cat needs treatment.


An ultrasound is a diagnostic tool used to detect abnormalities in internal organs. Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of soft tissue inside the body. 

But veterinarians can also use ultrasounds to examine pets’ hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, spleens, stomachs, intestines, bladders, ovaries, testicles, lymph nodes, bones, joints, muscles, nerves, skin, eyes, ears, teeth, and blood vessels.

Veterinarians use ultrasounds to help them identify health issues, including cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, arthritis, bone fractures, and tumors.

Feces Test

Cats are notorious poopers. They’re messy and smelly and often leave behind piles of waste. But did you know that veterinarians use fecal tests to help them identify genetic diseases in cats?

This test is called a Feline Genetics Panel (or FGPA). The panel helps vets determine whether a cat suffers from certain inherited conditions, including cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, etc

Vets use this test because they need to be able to accurately diagnose these diseases early in life when treatment options are limited. In addition, this test is crucial for young kittens who may not yet exhibit symptoms of any particular condition.

If your vet uses this test, they should tell you precisely what the results mean. Otherwise, ask them to describe the test and its purpose.


Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to examine internal organs through small tubes inserted through the mouth or nose. The box allows vets to view internal structures, perform biopsies, and take tissue samples.

Vets use endoscopes to examine the stomachs of dogs and cats. First, they insert a flexible tube called an esophagoscope through the dog’s or cat’s mouth and down its throat. This lets them see inside the esophagus (the line leading from the back of the mouth to the stomach).

They may also insert a scope through the cat’s nostrils to examine the nasal cavity. This helps determine whether there is any blockage or infection in the sinuses.


An echocardiograph is similar to an ultrasound but uses sound waves instead of radio waves to produce images. Echocardiographs diagnose heart disease by viewing the heart as it beats. This test involves inserting ultrasound waves through the skin and into the body to create images of internal organs. The echocardiography’s photos show the heart’s structure and valves.

Vets use echocardiography to detect problems such as mitral valve prolapse (MVP), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart disease. MVP is a condition where the mitral valve doesn’t close properly, causing blood to leak back into the left atrium during systole. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes the thickening of the walls of the heart muscle, making it harder to pump blood out of the ventricles. Congenital heart defects occur when the heart develops abnormally early in fetal development.


A urinalysis is a simple test that checks urine for specific substances that indicate kidney function, infection, or other disorders. Urine samples are collected by placing a container under the cat’s bladder.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing helps identify specific genes associated with inherited disorders. If a gene mutation is placed, it can be linked to a particular disease.

A genetic test can determine if your pet has any inherited disorders before becoming too sick to breed. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your pet won’t pass a severe illness to its offspring.

There are several types of genetic tests available today. Some tests are designed to detect specific illnesses, while others screen for general health issues. The most common type of screening test is called a carrier test.

Carrier tests identify carriers of recessive traits, which means that only half of each pair of genes carries the feature.

Carrier tests help identify animals with a gene mutation that causes a particular disorder. For example, a Labrador Retriever may have a gene mutation that makes them susceptible to hip dysplasia.

Another popular type of genetic test is a panel test. Panel tests cover multiple genes associated with certain health conditions. For example, they’re often used to determine whether a pet is predisposed to developing cancer or heart disease.

Finally, there are whole-genome tests, which analyze every gene in a pet’s DNA. These tests are expensive and are only recommended if you’ve been told your pet has a genetic problem.

Your vet may refer you to specialists for additional testing. Depending on the results of these tests, your vet may recommend treatment options, including medication, surgery, or euthanasia.

Treatment for Common Cat Genetic Disorders

Some hereditary diseases in cats are fatal, making them severe conditions. However, there are effective treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and extend life expectancy.

If your cat suffers from these conditions, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options. Some medications may be prescribed to slow down the progression of the disease, while others may only relieve symptoms.

Remember that most medications have side effects when discussing treatment options with your vet. So be prepared to discuss possible risks and benefits with your vet. Also, ask questions about dosage and frequency since each drug has different instructions.


There are three major categories of veterinary medicine used to treat genetic disorders in cats:

  • Antibiotics

Antibiotics kill bacteria and are administered orally (by mouth) once daily. Be aware that not every pet owner wants to give their cat antibiotics. Talk to your vet about whether antibiotic use is appropriate for your situation.

  • Anti-inflammatories

Some of these conditions require anti-inflammatory medications to help control symptoms. They are given topically (on the skin). Prednisone is the most common anti-inflammatory medication used to treat these conditions. However, not only some pet owners know his information.

  • Immune system boosters

It boosts the body’s ability to fight infection. These are injected directly into the bloodstream.

Many different immune system boosters are available for treating certain genetic diseases in cats. The most common ones include Felimare, Immune Support Complex (a nutritional supplement), and Immune Response Plus.

Preventative Medication

You need to know your cat’s risk factors so you can be able to prevent problems or manage them better. Preventative medicine is usually recommended for young cats because it helps reduce the risk of future health problems.

There are many ways to prevent genetic diseases in cats. The most common method is through spaying and neutering. Spayed females are not allowed to breed, and neutered males are castrated. This reduces the risk of developing certain cancers and reproductive problems.

Another standard preventive measure is vaccination. Vaccination helps protect against infectious diseases, including feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and rabies.

Vaccines are available for these three viruses, but there are others too. For example, some vaccines are designed specifically for kittens, while others are for adult cats.

Some vaccines are given orally, while others require injection. Different types of injections depend on whether the vaccine is meant to be injected once or multiple times.

Some cats suffer from multiple genetic disorders. For those cases, veterinarians recommend combining different types of medicines. For example, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to treat pyoderma. Pyoderma causes painful sores on the cat’s skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Common feline hereditary diseases include cataracts (which affect vision), congenital deafness, heart problems, kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, skin disorders, and cancer.

The answer is yes. Cats have symptoms similar to those of people who have autism. They tend to be very independent and aloof toward their owners. Some cats even seem to prefer solitude to human contact. However, this behavior is not necessarily linked to autism. It could just be a sign of a cat’s personality.

Cats can be born with mental disabilities. This is because many things affect the development of a cat’s brain. For example, if a mother cat is stressed out during pregnancy, her unborn kittens could develop problems such as autism. Also, if a kitten is exposed to too much radiation from X-rays or CT scans while still inside its mom, it could develop cancer later in life. In addition, some diseases can cause damage to a baby cat’s brain. If your cat was born with these conditions, you should immediately take them to the veterinarian for proper treatment.

Other kinds of mental disorders affect cats too later in life. Some of them are very rare, while others are pretty common. They include anxiety, depression, aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, epilepsy, dementia, etc. There are even some cases where a cat was diagnosed with multiple conditions.

The healthiest breed of cat is the Persian Cat. The reason why this breed is considered to be the healthiest is that they are spotless animals. In addition, they do not like to soil their fur. This makes them less likely to get sick. Also, they are known to live longer than any other breeds.

The most frequently seen feline genetic disease is polycystic kidney disease, which affects cats in nearly half of all cases. Cats develop kidney failure due to various causes. The most common reasons are nephrotoxic drugs (those that damage the kidney), typically taken to control seizures, and uremic toxins (a type of poison accumulating in the kidneys). Other causes include a virus causing inflammation of the renal tissues, obstruction of urine flow by blood or other materials in the bladder, and genetic disorders leading to decreased production of Healthy Renal Reflexes proteins.

A genetic mutation is a change in the DNA of an individual cat. This change can occur due to errors during cell division, which can cause abnormal gene expression. Some common mutations that are seen in cats include those associated with Coat Color (e.g., Tonkinese), Eye Colours (e.g., Siamese), and Feline Leukemia Virus Type 1 (FLV-1).

There are numerous cat viruses; each can cause different symptoms in your cat. Some of the more common ones include oodles, kitty herpes, calicivirus (respiratory), panleukopenia virus (feline leukemia), feline pruritus virus (feline itching disease), enteritis virus A and B, coronavirus-2 and coronavirus-3.

The most common cat disease is the coronavirus, which can cause respiratory illness. Other conditions that may occur in cats include feline leukemia virus (Feline Leukemia Virus), panleukopenia virus (Panleukopenia Viruses), toxoplasmosis, and rabies.

A genetic disorder found in cats is called neoplasia. Neoplasia refers to a cancerous tumor, and this disorder is characterized by the development of tumors in any part of the body.

Feline Panleukopenia is a common single-gene feline disorder seen in most canine and feline breeds where they develop untreated infections with the parasite, Panleukopenia. Cats infected with this parasite have reduced white blood cells and can suffer from secondary bacterial infections, leading to critical health problems.

Cats have different rates of genetic disorders. However, some common causes of genetic disorders in cats include Maine Coons, Persians, Siamese, and Ragdolls.

Different viruses can be fatal for cats in some instances. Some common viruses that can cause serious health problems and death in cats include distemper, coronavirus, feline leukemia virus, herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), and influenza A/Feline Panleukopenia Viruses 1 & 2 (FPV-1 and FPV-2).

Feline coronavirus (FCV), feline leukemia virus (FLV), and calicivirus can be transmitted through droplets from an infected cat to another indoor cat. Other viruses that can cause respiratory problems in cats include rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia, and coronavirus-like illness.

Genetics work in cats by dictating the makeup of their coat, coloration, size, and personality. Cats are a domesticated species living with humans, so they have evolved to match human preferences for these traits. Some genes responsible for determining coat color may be inherited from both parents, while others are passed down only from the cat’s father. The degree of variation among different breeds is due to differences in the various gene pools within those cat populations.

Most hereditary conditions in cats result from a mutation in one of the cat’s genes. These genetic mutations can be passed down from parent to child and may cause symptoms that vary depending on which gene is mutated. Some common inherited cat diseases include polycystic kidney disease , deafness, and retinal degeneration (eye disease).

The best way to manage genetic diseases in felines depends on the specific condition and severity. However, some tips that may help include: Regularly checking the cats’ blood pressure and heart rates; if either value is elevated, consulting a veterinarian immediately is advised. Many hereditary causes of hypertension and other cardiovascular problems can be detected early through regular health checks.

They are obtaining routine blood tests for genes associated with various types of cancer (e.g., FIV+, FeLV+, etc.). Cats with certain cancers may require specialized treatments that are not always available through traditional veterinary care, so it is essential to monitor their health closely.

Regularly providing fresh water and food; keeping the cat’s environment clean and free of obstructions that can encourage bacterial overgrowth (such as cords or toys). Prohibiting roughhousing, play fighting, or other activities likely to cause injury. Urinating in inappropriate places; if this habit persists, consult your veterinarian for help breaking the habit.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *