Disorder - Cleft palateOrgan Systems Involved
Alternative disorders described within LIDA
Cleft lip; First degree cleft
Palatoschisis; Congenital oronasal fistula
A cleft palate is an incomplete closure of the palate, the ‘wall’ between the mouth and the nasal cavity. The opening, or cleft, may be located in the hard (bony) palate, the soft palate or both. The cleft sometimes extends to the upper lip (hare-lip). This defect can be inherited as a genetic trait. Alternatively, it may be induced during pregnancy by toxic, viral, hormonal or nutritional factors.
Kittens born with a cleft palate often have difficulty suckling, grow poorly and fail to thrive, which can eventually be fatal. They often have a discharge of saliva, milk or food from the nose, especially during and after feeding. Affected kittens commonly gag, cough and sneeze while eating, due to the lack of separation between the nasal cavity and the mouth. This may lead to respiratory infections such as rhinitis (in the nose) and pneumonia from inhaling fluids.
Cats at Risk
Females are more commonly affected than males.
Medical and surgical: kittens can be tube-fed until old enough to undergo surgery at 8-12 weeks to provide adequate nutrition while preventing respiratory infections. Respiratory infections can be treated with antibiotics and medication promoting adequate respiration.
Surgical repair of the cleft involves closure of the defect with mucosal tissue. Use of bone and cartilage grafts has been reported to assist the reconstruction of the hard palate.