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Toyger Cat Health Problems: 7 Common Issues

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	Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo

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Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s not uncommon for purebred cats to have some sort of inherited health condition, which is why it’s a good idea for potential owners to do their research into the breed to get a better understanding of what kind of problems they could face.

The Toyger is a relatively new cat breed that was first introduced in the 1980s. With newer breeds, it can be hard to say for sure what kind of health conditions they show a predisposition to. While there is still a lot to be learned about these precious little toy-sized tigers, here’s a list of some health problems the Toyger breed may experience.

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The 7 Common Toyger Cat Health Problems

1. Heart Murmur

toyger kitten wrapped in a towel
Image Credit: stockelements, Shutterstock

A heart murmur is defined as an abnormal sound heard when listening to the heart. While Toygers are generally healthy, there have been observations of heart murmurs occurring within the breed, which is possibly indicative of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

A heart murmur is caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart. The root cause of a heart murmur cannot be determined by simply listening to the heart. Once a murmur is detected, further testing will need to be completed to find the root cause. Cats can have serious underlying heart disease even without any symptoms.

Symptoms:
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pale gums
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

Treatment

Treatment of heart murmur will depend solely on the root cause of the murmur. The heart murmur itself is indicative of another underlying health condition related to the heart. Unless symptoms associated with significant heart murmurs have prompted a vet visit, the murmur may go undetected until the next routine checkup. Therefore, it is important to keep up with regular checkups.

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2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is not necessarily breed-specific, it can affect any cat and is such a common health problem among domesticated cats that it affects every 1 in 10 cats worldwide, according to the AVMA.  Heart disease is a serious and potentially deadly condition in which an abnormality in the heart is present. There are two different categories of heart disease:

Congenital- congenital heart disease begins during fetal development and is present at birth. It is the result of inherited disorders that can be passed down to just the individual kitten or could affect multiple kittens within the same litter.

Acquired- when heart disease is considered acquired, it is an onset form of the condition.  More common in older cats, it is usually caused by structural damage that has occurred over time. It can also be related to a hereditary health condition that developed later in life. Dietary or environmental factors can also cause it.

Symptoms:
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness or lack of activity
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden paralysis of the hindquarters
  • Fast breathing during resting
  • Fainting and/or collapse
  • Chronic cough
  • Regularly elevated heart rate

Treatment

Because heart disease is a blanket term for conditions related to the heart, treatment will vary depending on the condition at hand.  The veterinarian will do the proper testing needed to diagnose the specific heart condition and will treat it accordingly.

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3. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Toyger Cat
Image Credit: stockelements, Shutterstock

Feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD is a blanket term that covers a variety of disorders of the urinary system. These disorders can range from mild to severe, they can be caused by a variety of issues. The most common causes of feline urinary tract disease are inflammation, infection, urinary obstruction, and even diet.

Feline lower urinary tract disease is relatively common in domesticated cats and is not considered an inherited health disorder for the Toyger specifically.

Symptoms:
  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Frequent and/or prolonged urination
  • Crying or bellowing while urinating
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Blood in the urine

Treatment

With feline lower urinary tract disease being another blanket term that involves a variety of conditions, treatment will vary depending on the underlying condition. The veterinarian will do laboratory testing and possibly even imaging to help properly diagnose the cat. Once the specific condition has been identified, treatment can begin.

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4. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a disease of the endocrine system that is common in domesticated cats.  This disease is mostly observed in middle-aged and senior cats. It is the result of increased production of thyroid hormones, which are very important in overall bodily function. Hyperthyroidism can eventually lead to secondary health conditions, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are important.

Symptoms:
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Restlessness
  • Crankiness or aggressive behavior
  • Unkempt coat
  • Increase in vocalization

Treatment

Testing will need to be completed by a veterinarian to determine whether a cat has hyperthyroidism. There are different treatment options depending on individual circumstance, but it includes medication, dietary changes, radioactive iodine therapy, and surgery. The prognosis of hyperthyroidism is typically good with proper treatment.

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5. Diabetes

With diabetes, blood sugar cannot be effectively regulated by the body. This is another endocrine disease that is much more common in adults and seniors but also more in males than in females. Diabetes can result from obesity and is on the rise among domesticated pets due to their overall diet.

Diabetes has the potential to reduce the quality of life and shorten a cat’s lifespan. The disease can be broken down into two types, both of which must be managed by a veterinarian.

Type I – With type 1 diabetes, the cat is fully dependent on insulin and its body can no longer produce or release enough insulin into the body. Type I is rarer in cats than Type II.

Type II – With type II diabetes, the cat’s body can produce insulin, but the organs and other tissues have developed a resistance to it and do not respond to the insulin correctly.  Type II diabetes is common in cats that suffer from obesity and older cats that have had diets rich in carbohydrates.

Symptoms:
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea or vomiting

Treatment

Treatment of diabetes will depend on the severity of the disease, and which type the cat suffers from. Treatment can include insulin therapy and dietary therapy. Your cat’s health will need to be monitored closely by the veterinarian if they have been diagnosed with diabetes.

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6. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD,  is a health condition related to damage to the kidneys. Chronic kidney disease is much more common in older cats since the kidneys tend to show damage over time. The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste from the bloodstream, which is why this condition has the potential to be life-threatening. Toyger cats have yet to show any predisposition for this CKD, but it is common to breeds like the Persian and is a concern for all domesticated cats.

Symptoms:
  • Weight loss
  • Brittle coat
  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia

Treatment

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but available treatment options can help with longevity and quality of life. Laboratory testing will be completed by the veterinarian, typically in the form of urinalysis and blood tests. Prognosis is dependent on the individual situation, how damaged the kidneys are, and how well the cat responds to treatment.

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7. Dental Disease

Toyger cat on a tree
Image Credit: Kutikova Ekaterina, Shutterstock

Dental disease is a very common health condition in domesticated cats. It is most common in older cats and can affect both the teeth and gums. Studies have shown that 50 and 90 percent of cats four years of age or older will suffer from some form of dental disease.

The most common types of dental diseases that cats suffer from are gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. All of these conditions can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and if they are left untreated, can cause problems with chewing, swallowing, and even eating.

Symptoms:
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mask
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling

Treatment

All cats are at risk for dental disease but thankfully, it is very preventable with proper oral hygiene practices. It’s best to keep up preventative measures to avoid the condition entirely. If your cat is suffering from dental disease, your veterinarian will do an examination and most likely take some X-rays of the mouth. Treatment includes a teeth cleaning and the extraction of any teeth if required.

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Conclusion

Overall, the Toyger cat is a healthy breed but there is some concern for heart murmurs, which could be indicative of heart disease. Since they are a newer cat breed, much more research needs to be done regarding their predisposition to inherited health conditions. That being said, they are still at risk for the common ailments that affect all domesticated cats.

Always ensure you are purchasing your pedigree kitten from a reputable breeder that does genetic testing and offers health guarantees.  If you notice that your cat is displaying unusual symptoms, contact your veterinarian for an examination.

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Featured Image Credit: Kutikova Ekaterina, Shutterstock

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