Persian cat with extreme flat face and health probems
9th April 2009 - Some 20 minutes ago I was watching prime time news in the UK on Channel 5. I was surprised to see that Persian cat inbreeding is on prime time news as a major news story. I have been mentioning this is for what seems like ages, since the the early days of building this website. I have made numerous posts and written several articles about this particularly in response, recently, to the well publicized story about companion dog inbreeding. The BBC had made a film about inbreeding in purebred dogs which had major, almost catastrophic repercussions in the dog world. It jeopardized the biggest and oldest dog show in the world, Crufts, and the Kennel Club, who run Crufts were forced, ultimately, to rewrite breed standards for a number of dog breeds. This was in response to a loss of sponsorship for Crufts.
It was really only a matter of time before the cat world was dragged into this debate by the media. But as I said, I am surprised it has hit prime time news. Channel 5 used Persian cat inbreeding of the flat face (ultra type breeding) as an example of what is wrong. The point made in the case of the Persian is that the flat face causes breathing difficulties and tear duct overflow (the tears run down the face because the duct is bent and blocked due to the flat face). The cat is breed like this for appearance sake only. The Persian needs to be "round" and cobby. In the USA the breed standard states clearly that the face should be flat (the elements of the face should be in a vertical line it says).
The story about Persian cat inbreeding on prime time news also referred to general ill health brought about by inbreeding and it reported that half of purebred Persians has a genetically inherited kidney disease. This was a reference to Polycystic Kidney Disease. They may have exaggerated the percentage a bit but it is very high indeed (about 40%). Perhaps the percentage is rising.
The point made by this news story is that inbreeding for appearance (to fix and exaggerate "type" - the breed standard appearance) can and frequently does lead to health issues, which is morally wrong. And in any event the average cat keeper wants a healthy cat for numerous reasons, one of which is to minimize vet's bills.
May this be the beginning of the end of focusing to highly on breeding for appearance in the cat world. Further articles:
- How and why the transformation from a normal Persian to the extreme Persian came about
- Cat Inbreeding
- Inbreeding makes pedigree cats diseased
- Wildcats - Inbreeding the curse of big cats