What is a Brachycephalic cat?

Brachycephaly is hereditary in which a cat (or dog) is bred with a shortened head depth, versus the head’s width.  Brachy meaning short, cephalic meaning head.

This presents as the ‘flat’ face appearance, quite popular with pet owners.  This breeding leads to many issues including having less room in the head for their eyes, malformed tear ducts, a shortened nose, smaller trachea (hypoplastic trachea), and less width of nostrils (stenotic nares), so therefore restrict breathing.

These cat breeds include the Persian, British shorthair, Scottish fold, Exotic shorthair, Himalayan, Burmese, Burmilla and, surprisingly, the Ragdoll.

How do we make grooming specially for ‘brachy’ cats?

We need to be very careful when bathing and drying the head area.

Cats with folds and malformed eye ducts require extra cleaning and increase risk of fungal infection.  Use a cloth when cleaning the face instead of running water, so the cat does not inhale (aspirate) the water.  Do not allow shampoo to go into their eyes as this can add to their already dry eyes.  If a cat vomits after a bath, they may have taken in some water.  Always advise the cat owner if this occurs. Always dry the folds well with a towel.   

When drying the cats head, dry so that the air does not direct into the face, either dry from behind the cat’s head, or directly onto the fur and skin. Do not dry near the nose or mouth. See below for video.

Keep the eyes well moistened, and use lubricating eye drops after grooming, especially after any face trimming.

Keep an eye on the temperature of the dryer and do not allow a ‘brachy’ cat to be in a cage dryer, as their temperature can increase very quickly leading to heat stress.

Be careful not to have happy hoodies that are too tight around the head, as they can close the already limited opening, they have in their nasal passages.

Stop grooming if the cat starts panting, as these cats can stress very easily, fainting and causing swelling around their larynx causing possible laryngeal collapse.

When using handling equipment, never use anything that puts pressure on the neck and trachea such as a grooming loop or tight muzzle. Tracheal collapse can occur in high stress situations. Use of a nylon muzzle reduces the ability for these cats to breathe therefore increasing the stress and risk of collapse.

If we slightly change the way we groom for the specific cat we have in front of us, and learn the basics of feline anatomy, we can groom the cat safely but effectively.

Learn more about heat stress and what to do in case of collapse in ‘First Aid for the Cat Groomer‘ written by two Qualified Veterinary Nurses.

Learn more here

Reference of Brachy breeds Animal Love First Aid Webinar


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