The Siamese is one of the world’s iconic cat breeds.
Originating in Thailand (which was once called Siam), where it has been beloved for centuries, the first known Siamese to reach the US was given as a gift to US President Rutherford B. Hayes in the 1870s.
Breeding programs have given rise to two types of Siamese, the thin, long-legged show cats and the “classic,” fuller-bodied varieties.
These cats are highly interactive and are especially known for their vocal abilities. Because they are so social, they are often brought into the home in pairs.
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Unfortunately for the owners who love them, Siamese are one of the shorter-lived breeds, with an average life expectancy of 10-12 years, and they are prone to a number of health problems:
- Feline cancer: Siamese is one of the types of cat breeds that tend to suffer a higher incidence of cancers than is usual in cats. One particularly common form occurs in the mammary glands, which can even affect spayed females and males. Advances in veterinary medicine in recent years have created a new drug and surgery options for treating feline cancers of many types.
- Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD): a number of different problems can result in the chronic condition known as FLUTD, which causes cats to suffer from painful urination and other forms of discomfort. Ultrasounds and biopsies may be required to confirm the diagnosis, and treatment can involve anything from medicines to surgery.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): as the name suggests, this disease occurs when the cells of a cat’s retinas degenerate. A single gene mutation is responsible for the problem, though as yet no genetic test has been developed for cats. It is therefore imperative to know a cat’s breeding history before acquiring a kitten in order to ensure that none of its ancestors has gone blind. There is no treatment for PRA, though affected cats can almost always live full lives if kept indoors.
- Strabismus (crossed eyes): Siamese of all types may be born with or may develop crossed eyes. Strabismus may cause no problem for a cat, or it may be symptomatic of a serious neurological condition, or of such illnesses as leukemia or meningitis. Diagnosis requires a thorough ophthalmological examination or X rays of the skull. Treatment is based on identifying the underlying cause.
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There is simply no way around it: these wonderful and historic cats come with a built-in risk of developing a serious medical condition.
The predictable costs of treating these conditions can be planned for in advance and managed by purchasing the right pet health insurance plan for owners of Siamese.
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