Structure: The Head


The skull should be smooth and without protruberances or depressions at maturity. The bony rims of the eye sockets, which are more pronounced in short-headed cats, can be detected at the front of the skull. There is also a slight ridge at the back of the skull pointing towards the neck which tends to be more prominent in long-headed cats. These ridges should not detract from the natural curvature of the skull.

Illustration of Skull

Skull Depressions – These may occur horizontally, vertically, or both.
Skull Protruberances – These may occur horizontally, vertically, or both.

Illustration of Irregular Skull


The mouth should be able to close completely and the tongue should lay within the mouth. The canine teeth should be nearly vertical. The six incisors should run in straight lines between the canine teeth with upper and lowers meeting when the mouth is closed.

Illustration of Bite

Undershot Jaw – The lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw with the bottom teeth jutting out in advance of the uppers rather than meeting.

Illustration of Undershot Jaw

Overshot Jaw – The upper jaw protrudes out over the lower jaw with the top teeth jutting out over the bottoms rather than meeting.

Illustration of Overshot Jaw

Narrow Lower Jaw – The lower teeth are squeezed too close together causing them to be misaligned or missing. A gap between upper and lower canines is visible.

Twisted Lower Jaw (Wry Mouth) – The lower jaw may be twisted to one side or may even be rotated so that one canine is higher than the other. If the lower jaw is also narrow, the gap between the upper and lower canines will be noticeably greater on one side. The twist may cause one of the lower canines to lie outside the upper canine and sometimes protrude.

Abnormal Angulation of Canine Teeth – Canine teeth (upper, lower or both) leaning forwards, sideways or backwards instead of being set nearly vertical.


The eyes should be bright and clear without redness, swelling or visible tearing.

Entropion – Inward curling of eyelid (especially lower lid) causing hair or lashes to rub against the eye.

Strabismus (Permanent Squint) – Disorder in which one or both eyes lack the normal range of motion. Typically the eye(s) appear to deviate inward toward the nose (cross-eyed).

Epiphora – Excessive tearing. This may be caused by abnormalities of the lacrimal lake or the nasolacrimal duct between the eye and nose. A generous distance between eyes in very short-nosed cats may allow for normal tear duct function.

Illustration of Eyes


The function of the nose is to warm and filter air entering the lungs. Breathing should appear effortless. The following conditions can diminish the capacity for normal function:

Reduced Nasal Cavities – May result in less surface area for the normal process of warming and filtering the air. Short or stub nose should also be broad to ensure adequate cavity size.

Reduced Nostril Aperture – May impede normal air flow into and out of the nose.

Exaggerated Depression of the Nasal Bridge (Break) – May increase the likelihood of breathing difficulties and eye problems if accompanied by inadequate distance between eyes and/or inadequate breadth of nose. May cause a predisposition for dermatitis in skin folds below the eyes.

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Text: Gayle Hand, Joan Miller, Betty White
Illustrations: Leslie Falteisek