Burmese Cat Health - Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome

Burmese cats have a predisposition to acquiring Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome (FOPS).  The condition occurs mainly in Burmese cats and associated breeds (Tonkinese, Burmillas and occasionally Siamese cats). There is another disease that affects the head of this cat breed: meningeoncephalocele. See Burmese cat health.

What is FOPS? It is acute pain in the mouth and face that is so severe that is causes the cat to scratch at the mouth and self-mutilate on the outside of the mouth and inside (the tongue). It is obviously very distressing for cat and cat caretaker alike. It is similar to the human version of this disease and in other animals.

It seems that it is not entirely clear what causes it. Is there a genetic inheritance connection?

Certain things bring on FOPS such as kitten teething, mouth disease, stress and dental work. Damage to the trigeminal nerves seems to be one cause. Trigeminal nerves carry sensory messages from the face to the brain.

Treatment is multifaceted: bandaging claws to prevent self-mutilation, pain relief, tube feeding because cats do not wish to eat as it hurts (i.e. facial movement by chewing brings it on), tranquilisers?, possible euthanasia if the cat is in continual severe pain.

This page will tell you more (opens in a new window). I don't know if FOPS only affects American Burmese cats. There are different breeding processes and standards between the USA, UK and Europe. Breeding practices may have had a role to play in the creation of this disease in Burmese cats.


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