The reason why cat owners abandon purebred, pedigree cats is essentially the same reason why people abandon random bred cats. They are not committed to keeping their cat. There are added reasons why an owner of a purebred cat might abandon their cat. Such an owner may be more interested in the way their cat looks. These people are more likely to be involved with appearance generally, which means they may well have a house that looks wonderful.
They may treat a cat as an adornment and not as a companion animal. Cats can create some mess, which is why Sarah Hartwell’s website is called messybeast.com.
Mess for a person who is interested in the appearance of their home is unwelcome. Their furniture might get scratched. They may declaw their cat. Then the relationship between cat and owner may start to hit the rocks if the declawing operation causes a detrimental change in the cat’s character. Abandonment may follow.
In short, if a person who buys a cat from a breeder is too heavily focused on appearance and not the practicalities of cat caretaking then the chances of abandonment are higher.
True cat lovers like all cats equally. They usually, nearly always in fact, look after non-pedigree cats for the simple reason that there is always a moggie cat there to be adopted. As Sarah Hartwell said to me:
Cats just happen
Cats turn up and a person who really cares and who will make an excellent cat caretaker will take in a cat that just turns up. The person who likes pedigree cats will not respond in the same way.
There could, in fact, be more pedigree cats in shelters than there are already. The reason why there are not is because they are expensive and relatively rare compared to pedigree dogs. However, it appears that there are quite a good number of relinquished pedigree cats in shelters.
I’ll make a guess and state that a big reason why some pedigree cats are in shelters is because they were declawed and as a result their behavior deteriorated. They became defensive due to feeling insecure and bite defensively more than usual.
Another reason for dumping a cat which is exclusively to do with pedigree cats is extreme breeding. Flat-faced Persians need a lot of grooming to keep the coat from knotting and they have inherent health issues – breathing and tear duct overflow staining the face. They are also said to have a more nervous disposition that other cats. This leads to a higher rate of inappropriate elimination. Another negative to owning a Persian is that over a third of all cats of this breed develop polycystic kidney disease (PKD). All these factors are unique to the modern Persian and all of them increase the risk of relinquishment.
You’ll find that pedigree cats are, on average, slightly less healthy than random bred cats. That means more worry and higher vet bills; another reason for dumping a cat.
The reason why an individual person abandons his/her purebred cat is because she is the wrong people to keep a cat and some of these breeds present additional caretaking responsibilities and demands over random bred cats (moggies).
It is important that people who want to buy a pedigree cat do their research first; work out costs and get a feel for the realities. Ask yourself some tough questions. Then, before buying, the person should commit to keeping their cat for life. The stage before adopting a cat is the most important and far more important than some people think.
Are the proportion of pure-bred cats in shelters the same as the proportion of pure-bred cats overall? I don’t think we have a firm idea as to the proportion of pure-bred cats but my guess is the proportion in shelters reflects the proportion in homes. If I am correct being purebred makes little difference to whether a cat is dumped or not.
Original photo on Flickr