As gorgeous as Bengal cats are, they are not immune to adverse health issues. Responsible cat parents of any breed need to be aware of their cat’s health and common health issues they could face. This is certainly true of Bengal cats as well. There are bacterial diseases, parasitic and viral diseases, as well as specific health conditions that can affect Bengals. It's essential to be aware of Bengal cat illnesses and common health issues they may face.
Tritrichomonas (T. Foetus)
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKDef)
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-b)
Bacterial Risks and Diseases
Just as bacteria, parasites, and viruses can affect other cats, Bengal cats can fall victim to these diseases as well. Several bacterial infections can affect Bengal cats. These include:
Upper Respiratory Infections (URI): Commonly caused by bacteria like Bordetella bronchiseptica , Chlamydophila felis, and herpesvirus, symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and eye discharge.
Responsible pet parenting starts with awareness of such Bengal cat illnesses, followed by doing what is necessary to keep your Bengal cats healthy.
Vaccinations, vet visits and a clean environment can go a long way to significantly reduce the risk of infections. A well-balanced diet and appropriate grooming regimen can also work wonders for your cat's overall health.
Parasites can also affect your Bengal cat's health:
Fleas: These blood-sucking pests can cause severe itchiness, skin irritation, and even transmit diseases like tapeworms or Mycoplasma haemofelis (a blood-borne parasite).
Ticks: They can transmit various diseases like Lyme disease or Cytauxzoonosis (a life-threatening feline tick-borne disease).
Heartworms: Didn’t know cats could get heartworm disease? They certainly can and unfortunately there is no cure for cat heartworm. These dangerous parasites can infect cats if bitten by mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae. Speak to your vet – there are preventatives.
There are also GI parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and others. Testing and prevention are key to managing these.
Bengal Cat Illnesses:Tritrichomonas
A protozoal parasite, Tritrichomonas foetus, causes diarrhea in cats. Symptoms include foul-smelling, watery stools, often accompanied by mucous or blood. Diagnosis requires a fecal sample, and treatment involves administering an appropriate medication.
Several viral infections can affect Bengals:
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): A retrovirus that can lead to immune system suppression, anemia, and even cancer and death.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): Similar to human HIV, this virus leads to weakened immunity, making the cat vulnerable to various infections and ultimately death.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV): A highly contagious virus causing respiratory infections and oral ulcers.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): A fatal systemic coronavirus infection and a leading cause of death in young cats.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKDef) in Bengals
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKDef) is another of the Bengal cat illnesses. It is an inherited disease that affects Bengals. Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKDef) Cats with PKDef experience anemia, a shortage of red blood cells. The cat may experience pale gums, weakness and lethargy. If you are going to adopt a Bengal cat, it’s very important for you to ask the breeder if your cat has been tested for PKDef. Likewise, breeders should test their breeding cats to prevent passing the gene onto the kittens.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in Bengals
Another genetic issue that can affect cats, including Bengals, is one that affects kidney function, Polycystic Kidney Disease. Multiple cysts grow in the kidney, leading to kidney failure. There is no cure for PKD, but if detected early, supportive care can greatly extend your cat’s life.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in Bengals
A fairly common heart disease in cats, HCM involves thickening of the heart muscle. This can decrease the heart's ability to pump blood, potentially leading to heart failure. Regular veterinary heart screenings with cardiac ultrasound can help identify HCM in its early stages. Medications can help manage the condition and slow its progression, protecting your Bengal's heart health.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-b) in Bengals
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-b) is a hereditary condition that causes the cells of the retina to lose function and die. As a result, affected cats will experience progressive vision loss, which can lead to complete blindness. There is no cure, but genetic testing can provide an early diagnosis.
Over the course of our next few blog posts, more information will be given about the most serious of these Bengal cat illnesses.