A Quick Look into Cleft Palate in Cats

February 06, 2019

A Quick Look into Cleft Palate in Cats

Did you know that cats can be born with cleft palates?


Just like in humans, cats can be born with a cleft palate which can make them look odd. However, even with this condition, a cat can live a long and happy life with the right person.


Cats with cleft palate need a lot of love and special attention.


In this blog post, I will go through everything you need to know about cats that have cleft palates to address some myths.


Let’s get started.

Cleft Palate 101: What is it?

This is a congenital disability which means that a kitten is born with a cleft palate.


However, in some rare cases, a cat can get her palate damaged as a result of trauma even if she was born with an average palate which makes her look like she’s got a cleft palate.


But, what is that, anyway?


The opening in the roof of a cat’s mouth is known as the palate. A cleft palate happens when two sides of the palate don’t fuse while the fetus is developing. So, the kitten is born with an opening, in the form of a hole or a split, between her mouth and the nasal passages.


The cleft may be small in size, or it can also extend across the entire palate. It could also affect the soft palate, hard palate, or both.

Let’s Take a Look at the Symptoms of a Cleft Palate

The cleft palate has obvious symptoms which makes the condition more apparent---something the cleft lip hides rather well. The symptoms of the cleft palate involve the front of the palate and the lip, which causes the teeth, nose, and lips to be divided.


Signs of a cleft palate are not as obvious when the damage is further back in your kitty’s mouth.


Take a look at some of the symptoms that might occur as a result of a cleft palate in cats:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Difficulty nursing
  • Abnormal breathing sounds
  • Slow growth or failure to thrive
  • Milk, or milky bubbles, passing through and out of the nose while nursing
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing

Here’s a Look at Some Causes of a Cleft Palate

Did you know that a few cat breeds are prone to be born with cleft palates?


This includes breeds such as Savannah, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ocicat, Ragdoll, Persian, Siamese, and Persian Cat.


Also, more female kittens tend to be affected by this condition than male kittens.


While this disease is genetic and inherited, some experts feel that there are a few more factors that may be contributing to the disease. This includes the pregnant cat being exposed to teratogenic chemicals that could interfere with the normal development of embryos, or excessive amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D.

How Can a Cleft Palate Be Treated?

Is there something that can be done to treat my cat?

Your vet will be able to check the kitten’s oral cavity to see if a cleft palate is present. To carefully examine the entire mouth, anesthesia is usually necessary. X-rays may also be used to check if pneumonia has developed.


For kittens that are born with a cleft palate, surgery may be the only option to fully treat the condition. However, this can be tricky in small kittens. Vets generally recommend a long nipple or an oral feeding tube to ensure that the kitten gets all the nutrients that she may need to grow.


As the kitten gets bigger, the chances are that the cleft may become smaller in size. However, the chances are that the oral cavity can become bigger, and surgery might be easier once the kitten is 3 to 4 months old.


Multiple surgeries might be necessary to fix the palate.


Unfortunately, if a cleft palate is irreparable or severe, euthanasia may be the only option.

Kittens with a Cleft Palate Can Have a Normal Life, too

For feline parents, it can be overwhelming to care for a kitten with a cleft palate.


However, your cat can live a normal life, and there is hope for her. You’ll need to closely work with a veterinarian to ensure proper nutrition, care, and treatments that can help your pet thrive and grow up to be just like any other kitty.

Summing Up: Cleft Palate in Cats

Just like in humans, cats can be born with a cleft palate which can make them look odd.


This is a congenital birth defect which means that a kitten is born with a cleft palate. A cleft palate happens when two sides of the palate don’t fuse while the fetus is developing.


So, the kitten is born with an opening, in the form of a hole or a split, between her mouth and the nasal passages.


Cats with cleft palate need proper care to get a fair chance at life. With the right treatment, they can live a long and happy life while bringing joy to yours like any normal kitty.


Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments…




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