hereditary problems faced by famous pet breeds

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Oct 07 2011

It’s time again to let our spotlight shine on some famous pets! I thought I’d mix it up this week and add in a famous cat (or in this case, cats), but I had a hard time coming up with very many. If you think of a famous pet you’d like profiled, especially if it is a cat, let us know. This is a recurring theme, and I’d be happy to oblige you!

At any rate, this blog will be centered on the Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp.” I think we’ve all seen this movie, and who can forget the memorable “spaghetti scene” when Lady and The Tramp end up smooching over their pasta? While The Tramp is a mixed breed dog (likely with some Schnauzer or other large Terrier), Lady is a full bred Cocker Spaniel. And for our first ever famous cat, I’ve chosen the twin Siamese cats, Si and Am, who caused trouble every chance they had!


Cocker Spaniels were first used as hunting dogs, as they take easily to the water to hunt fowl. Lady was kept as a house pet, though she was seen trying to protect the baby from a prowling rat. Like Lady, Cocker Spaniels are gentle dogs with easy-going dispositions, making them great family companions. Cocker Spaniels, like most other breeds, are prone to a few hereditary conditions, some of which are detailed below:

  • Seborrhea: Seborrhea results in excessive scaling of the skin and chronic skin disorders, such as chronic skin infections.
  • Atopy: Atopy is an inhaled or contact allergy, which result in seasonal itchiness that can progress to a year-round problem. Affected dogs are prone to ear and skin infections.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are an opacity in the lens, which is the focusing device of the eye. Cataracts can progress to cause blindness.
  • Entropion: Entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelid. The hairs on the eyelid irritate the surface of the eye, causing discomfort and corneal ulcers.

Si and Am

Si and Am make up the famous Siamese duo who do their best to ruin Lady’s life. They also provide one of the most memorable songs from the movie. They are willful without apology, much like actual Siamese cats. While there weren’t many (if any) positive character traits associated with Si and Am, real-life Siamese cats are the opposite. They are lovable and loving, though their above-average intelligence does tend to get them into trouble, much like the cartoon version featured in the movie. Siamese cats are generally a healthy breed, but are occasionally affected by hereditary conditions as well, such as:

  • Amyloidosis: Amyloidosis is a group of diseases in which the protein amyloid is deposited in organs. In the Siamese cat, the liver is the target organ for deposition.
  • Hyperlipidemia: Hyperlipidemia is a general term for disorders in which there are too many fat molecules in the blood.
  • Gingivitis: Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. In some cats, severe gingivitis occurs due to hypersensitivity to the plaque surrounding the tooth. Removal of the teeth (including roots) seems to be curative and is recommended due to the discomfort caused in severe cases.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is characterized by an elevation of pressure inside the eye. High pressure in the eye causes extreme discomfort and may lead to an enlarged, bulging eye and result in blindness.

While it is interesting to speculate as to the health of these fictional characters, there's nothing fun about the health problems our real-life versions of these breeds may face. Thankfully, dog insurance and cat insurance from Petplan covers hereditary and chronic conditions such as those listed above for life, letting you concentrate on the care and TLC your four-legged stars deserve, not the vet bills.