Not all long haired cats are Persians, but many do have some Persian breeding. Purebred Persian cats are prone to some health problems and if you own a Persian cat, or are thinking of getting one, you will want to be aware of these issues so you can watch out for them.
Naturally, being long haired, means these cats often suffer from problems related to hairballs. This can be reduced by feeding the cat a good quality food, regular brushing, and reducing stress in the home. Both stress and low quality cat food contribute to excess shedding and hair loss in cats.
Problems Due to Face Shape
Because the trend has been to breed Persian cats with extremely pushed in noses these cats often suffer from related problems. The more pushed in the face, the more problems the cat may have. Problems include tear ducts that constantly run and will stain the fur below the eyes, if neglected this can cause sores on the skin.
Eyelashes, and hair on the nose, can cause a problem if they rub on the eyes of the cat.
The short noses can cause breathing problems for the cat, making them more vulnerable to problems associated with warm, or cold, temperatures. This is because the longer noses give the air a chance to either warm up, or cool down, before entering the body. These cats often have small nasal passages and cannot take as much physical exertion as other cats, and tend to be more lazy as a result.
Malocclusion, or a bad bite, is also common in Persians and should be checked before buying a kitten.
Because of the facial deformity eating can be more difficult for Persian cats.
As a result of the distorted head shape it is not uncommon for Persian cats to have difficulty birthing kittens – the shape of the kitten's head does not pass easily. Still born kittens are seen more in Persians than most other breeds.
One of the other major health concerns with Persian cats is Polycystic kidney disease, PKD. More than one third of all Persian cats have been shown to develop PKD. Cysts grow in the kidney and lead to kidney failure. This problem has been found in Persians as young as three years old but is more commonly associated with cats over 6. The first sign of such a problem is excessive drinking. This is a genetic concern. It is advised the people should not buy purebred kittens from breeders who have not had the parents tested for this problem.
Fewer than 10% of older Persian cats have been found do have Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which causes an enlargement of the left heart chamber and can result in sudden death. This condition is more common in male cats than in females.
Other Problems seen in Persian Cats
Persian cats often have side effects from Grisofulvin, a ringworm medication.
Some Persian cats have behavior problems and simply stop using their litter box (note this can also be related to kidney problems).
Persian cats are prone to hip dysplasia.
Eye diseases are common in this breed.
If not groomed regularly they will develop painful hair mats and may require shaving.
Note that when you buy a kitten from a good breeder they should have taken the parents to shows to prove they were good quality, worth breeding and had them tested for genetic health problems. One concern with the Persian cat breed is that some breeders are selecting to breed for unhealthy traits such as extreme pushed in noses.