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Himalayan Kittens First Check Up

February 24, 2013

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What Can Be Expected From a First Check Up for a Himalayan Kitten?

seal point, flame point, and torti point himalayans kittens wait for their 8 week check-up

3 little kittens

Doc Truli loves kittens. Especially Himalayan kittens. After all, VirtuaCat was one such kitten 17 years ago! When your little bundle of joy and claws sees the veterinarian, you can expect a thorough physical examination, fecal parasite test, and feline leukemia blood test (if it’s available in your country). If you bring a fresh, less than 12-hours-old feces sample to the visit, you will save your little one the discomfort of a rectal probe.

If you have questions about food, toys, supplements,grooming tools, etc, bring them along to the visit so your veterinarian can see exactly what you have set up for your new kitten’s life.

Doc Truli says, ” You would be amazed how many people cannot remember the brand name of the pet food they chose.  Furthermore, there are at least 500 kinds of shampoo and ear cleaner, so telling your vet you use the one in the ‘blue bottle’ is a stretch of anyone’s imagination. Just bring your supplies or pictures of supplies you wish to purchase in order to ask your vet’s advice.”

The Physical Examination

  • Teeth and occlusion
  • Ears and earmite check
  • Skin and flea check
  • Orthopedic exam, especially knees and joint alignment
  • Cardiac auscultation (listening to the heart with a stethoscope)
  • Eye check
  • Abdominal palpation (feeling for the kidneys, etc)

Face and Teeth

The brachycephalic facial structure (pronounced brake-eee-sef-fal-lick) of the show Himalayan can come with problems.  While a little kitten with big heartfelt eyes and a short nose and a cute little mouth grabs your heart, it does not always help the kitten be healthy

Two himalayan kittens with smushy faces

flat himi faces

Himalayans can have facial defects like cleft palette. They can be born with a full or partial cleft or crevasse in the roof of the mouth.  Some kittens born with this problem will die shortly after birth because they will not be able to suckle properly to drink mother’s milk.  If you are lucky enough to have new-born kittens under your care, take them to the veterinarian as soon after they are born as is practical (within a day) to get them checked for defects like cleft palette or anal atresia (when there’s a membrane over the anal opening and they cannot poop.)  Many kittens can live a normal life is your vet identifies these problems right away before the kitten becomes sick.

Exophthalmic Himalayan Eyes

Exophthalmic refers to those cute bulgy eyes.  Like Persians and Himmis have.  Like Burmese and Scottish Folds. Himalayan cats can also be born with eyes that tear excessively.  Sometimes they have defective tear ducts that do not work.  Sometimes they have soft eyelashes that rub on the corneas and cause tearing and pain. Depending on the exact problem, there are surgeries to help or cure the uncomfortable conditions.

Parasites and Skin

Mom cats often have earmites and fleas that they share with their kittens.  Fleas can kill kittens by drinking their blood and making them dangerously anemic. If you see fleas on your kitten, comb them off daily with a flea comb and treat the direct environment to eliminate fleas.  Many products are not safe for kittens, so follow your veterinarian’s advice if you are having trouble finding products that say in writing that they are safe for young kittens.

Himalayans are also prone to ringworm fungus.  They seem to have a genetic difference from average cats that makes ringworm grow easily on them and sometimes makes it stay.  If your kitten has bald spots, sores, red skin, or crusts, have the veterinarian check them.  Ringworm is zoonotic, which means kittens can give it to humans. Always follow your physician’s advice regarding human illness.

tiny himi kitten with a paw seemingly half the size of his head!

My, what a huge paw you have!

Orthopedic Exam

The orthopedic exam checks that your kitten is made right. Some kittens have knees that bend backward. Some Himalayan kittens are chondrodysplastic, which means they are somewhat dwarfed and have crooked legs. The crooked elbows and knees can hurt as they exercise and sometimes not line up properly. Your veterinarian can identify these problems and possible spinal problems like scoliosis, flail chest, or kyphosis (pronounced key-fo-sis). While scoliosis is a bend in the spine from right to left (or side to side), kyphosis is a bend from top to bottom (up and down). Most cats can live happy lives with their unique situations, especially if you know about the problem from kitten hood so you can help your cat as much as possible.

Himalayan Hearts

A cardiac check is important. Himalayan kittens can be born with heart murmurs.  A murmur is an abnormal wooshing or squeaking heart sound.  Technically, it means there is turbulent blood flow in the heart or the great vessels. It can mean that they heart developed wrong.  An echocardiogram may be prescribed in order to see if the murmur is a benign murmur that does not indicate a heart problem versus a heart condition. Sometimes you will need a specialist for a diagnosis or peace of mind.

Doc Truli says, “Years ago, I met a flame-point Himalayan kitten with a heart rate of 300.  The breeder worried he had a cardiac disease. The cardiology specialist at the University of Pennsylvania pointed out to me that there were no normal kitten heart rates in the published scientific literature in 1998. The kitten went on to live a full, happy life.”

Kidneys and Abdominal Organs

Finally, your Himalayan kitten’s examination includes abdominal palpation. Cats can be born with only one kidney.  Your veterinarian feels and counts the kidneys during the exam. Furthermore, Himalayans are a breed of cat prone to polycystic kidney disease (PKD).  It is a genetic disorder in which they kidneys form cysts that crowd out the normal function of the kidneys until the cat eventually looses his or her life.  PKD usually lies silent until middle age and then slowly progresses for years. If your kitten has only one kidney, then a disease like PKD would be especially devastating and you would want to establish a frequent check-up schedule with your veterinarian in order to detect any dysfunction well before your precious Himalayan feels sick.

Congrats on your new Himalayan kitten! VirtuaCat has brought happiness to everyone he meets (except the groomer) for 17 years. If you are researching breeds and you like lazy, affectionate, furry, beautiful companions, then the Himalayan cat is for you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. bart springer permalink
    February 25, 2013 1:42 am

    Great info for any new or potential Himmie mom or dad. Thanks Doc Truli

  2. karen permalink
    February 25, 2013 1:40 am

    I’m studying to become a vet, and it’s really been an eye-opener that so many of the conditions treated by vets were induced by humans. Not only in small animals, but in cattle and horses too. And how lucky for the owners that there’s a vet to fix it…

    It is shocking what breeding has done to cats, and what people will do for “cute” face – induce so much suffering for nothing. And all that while so many “normal” cats are stuck in shelters, maybe never finding a home although they are perfectly healthy with no signs of inbreeding. I’m really sorry for these little Himalayan kittens!

    • February 25, 2013 11:51 pm

      I know what you mean about soooo many cats at shelters (and still in our streets) needing homes.

      As far as feeling sorry for the Himalayan kittens, well, they don’t know anything else. These little ones were healthy and they have no idea that they have flat faces!

      • karen permalink
        February 26, 2013 1:34 am

        I agree, it’s not the kittens’ fault that they are here. It’s people’s selfish need for wanting adorable that did that. And although those kittens are healthy now, who knows how their health will be when they are older. I’m not saying all pure bred cats have health problems, but enough do that I think it’s a shame. In my opinion flat faces are not physiological.

        I’ll rephrase – I wish those little Himalayan kittens all the best!

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