Friday 21 March 2008

Siberian Cat Health

Siberian cat health is generally good. They are robust cats. One condition, though, to which this breed has a predisposition comes immediately to mind - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM.

This is a well known heart disease affecting a number of purebred cat breeds in particular and potentially all domestic cats. It also affects humans, of course.

Cats can show signs of HCM from the age of 2 months until they are 24 years old. Although in another post on HCM in Bengal cats (in fact there are several posts on this important subject), I recall a comment made by a visitor to this site saying that it is unlikely to be present before 6 months old. I don't know if that is true. Update: HCM is late onset and not present at birth. A heart murmur is one of the first signs (a vet can check for this). Cats with a predisposition to HCM should be checked yearly therefore.

The average age for having HCM is apparently 4.8-7 years. Persian cats have been reported as being predisposed to contracting HCM. In addition, there is a high incidence in Maine Coon cats which is tragic. The level of occurrence in Maine Coons is about 30%. The Siberian cat also has a predisposition to HCM. This is perhaps the most important disease affecting Siberian cat health. The other cat breeds that are apparently affected are the Sphynx and Ragdoll amongst others. (src: Kerry Simpson, FAB Lecturer in Feline Medicine, University of Edinburgh).

The reason why HCM is present in the Siberian cat breed is because Siberian cats that were excellent in respect of "type" (appearance) carried (perhaps unknown to the breeder) HCM. This condition has therefore been bred into the breed. A similar tragedy is happening in the Bengal breed in my opinion.

Are there any other outstanding Siberian cat health issues? Yes, it seems one other, namely, FUS (feline urethral syndrome) or feline lower urethral tract disease to which this cat appears to be predisposed. It is not known if this disease is inherited (genetically based) but it would be wise when adopting a Siberian cat to check the lineage (parentage) in respect of occurrence of both these diseases.

I would have thought that the breeder selling the cats would be able to certify negative tests on both diseases as they are known conditions. FUS though is common throughout domestic cats as 30% will suffer from it at one time (src: HDW). My cat had cystitis on occasions.

FUS covers all lower urinary tract disorders including, blockages, kidney stones and infections.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet but a careful researcher. Sometimes misleading information can be circulated. I always cross check. Discuss these issues with the breeder before adopting.

Siberian Cat Health to Siberian Cat


  1. HCM is a genetic disease and currently there is research underway to find the genes responsible for this heart disease in Siberians. Currently there is no test that can be given. Breeders can screen their pedigrees to be sure no ancestors of their cats have the disease. Cats can also have an echocardiogram to see if the disease is developing but this does not rule out the possibility that the disease may develop later in the cat's life.

    While both HCM and "FUS" do appear in the Siberian breed, it is important to realize the disease is no more prevalent than the general cat population.

    Siberian breeders have fully funded 2 grants to find the HCM genes and research directed by Dr Kate Meurs is currently underway at Washington State University.

    To read more about the health and low allergy qualities of the Siberian cat, please visit

  2. Alida,

    Thanks very much for your comment and information - this is most welcome and useful.

    I certainly would visit the site


Your comments are always welcome.

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