Generally, cats have the reputation of being relatively low-maintenance pets. It’s true that they bathe themselves (or each other) and they don’t need daily walks. Caring for exotic breeds, however, can be anything but easy. Often these purebred animals have dietary, health, grooming, and behavioral issues that make their care a bit more of a challenge for owners.
Here we’ll take a look at a few unusual cat breeds and their care needs.
Beauty, as they say, comes at a price. And while the Himalayan cat is certainly a magnificent breed, it is important for owners to be aware of their special needs. Himalayans need regular (daily) grooming to remove mats and tangles from their long fur. Like many of the flat-faced cats, Himalayans often have breathing problems due to deformed nasal passages. The breed is also at risk for polycystic kidney disease, which can cause kidney problems in adult animals. Screening tests are available and when buying from a breeder, prospective buyers should ask to see proof that both the animal’s parents were free of kidney cysts.
Like the Himalayan, the Peke-Faced Persian has long fur that requires daily grooming (a stainless steel brush is recommended) to avoid potential matting and skin infections. The breed is also subject to several congenital conditions. Also, because of their unusual physical characteristics, Peke-Faced Persians can suffer from watery eyes, breathing trouble, and an abnormal bite. Like many long-haired cat breeds, Persians do need bathing, so it’s recommended to get your feline accustomed to water at an early age.
The Manx is easily identified by the absence of a tail and, over the years, has become a fashionable breed. As with any breeding abnormality, the breed’s tailless-ness can be associated with spinal defects that present as problems defecating or urinating. Most of these problems appear by six months of age. A Manx kitten likely has some spinal issue if they are displaying difficulty walking or walk with a stiff or hopping gait.
Among the most unusual cats in appearance, the Sphynx cat is virtually hairless. Before you get too excited by the fact that this feline won’t need daily grooming, you should be aware that the breed does face some challenges. Sphynxes are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a thickening of the heart muscle), and a neurological disease called hereditary myopathy, which affects the muscles (including the ability to swallow). Fortunately, the latter condition is rare, and is being slowly bred out. Sphynx cats are also prone to some skin conditions, as well as to periodontal disease. So yes, you’ll have to brush their teeth.
As the name implies, Munchkins are known for their small stature and short legs. Interestingly, this newer breed has relatively few congenital health problems. There are, however, a few cautions. Because of their short legs, Munchkins don’t jump as well as other cats, so you’ll have to lift them to and from chairs and beds to help avoid injury. Also, obesity can present very real physical challenges to the breed as it can make even normal mobility difficult.
Adopting an unusual cat breed can be both rewarding and challenging. For more info on exotic or high-maintenance cat breeds, talk with your vet or with a reputable licensed breeder.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.