Cleft Palate in Cats

2 min read

Feline Cleft Palate 

Cleft palate is an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth. It is caused by failure of the two sides of the palate (roof of the mouth) to come together and fuse during embryonic development. A cleft palate results in an opening between the nasal passages and the mouth.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms expected with a cleft palate include:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by milk and food contents entering the cleft and infecting the lungs)
  • Respiratory difficulty (caused by aspiration pneumonia)
  • Difficulty sucking and nursing (in the kitten)
  • Slow growth
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite


Cleft palate is most often a congenital disorder, likely inherited, and there is a breed predilection in Norwegian forest cats, ocicats, Persians, ragdolls, savannahs, and Siamese.

Cleft palates can also be caused by exposure of pregnant female cats to teratogenic chemicals (chemicals that interfere with normal embryo development). These chemicals include griseofulvicin and excessive vitamin A and vitamin D. In these cases, the kittens may be born with cleft palates.


Diagnosis is made by a visual examination of the cleft palate.

Related Posts

Cleft Palate in Dogs Awareness

Patrick Mahaney, VMD
Jul 02, 2014

Swallowing Difficulties in Cats

Alex German
Mar 31, 2016

Sneezing, Reverse Sneezing, and Gagging in Cats

Cecilia de Cardenas
Apr 01, 2016

Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

Cecilia de Cardenas
Sep 29, 2016