Why are some cats and dogs bred to be ugly?

Why are some cats and dogs bred to be ugly? Answer: because (a) people want something different to make a statement (b) beauty is in the eye of the beholder (c) some people like ugly looking things.

I’ll try and answer the question. As stated, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is ugly for some is beautiful to another. It is purely a matter of opinion. But is that true?

If the vast majority of people think a cat or dog is ugly you probably have to concede that the cat or dog is ugly. What people think is ugly and pretty is well established and the standard applies anywhere in the world. There will be exceptions but I think it is fair to say that beauty and ugliness is not just about opinion and personal taste. We can, therefore say that a cat or dog can be ugly or to be more polite unattractive. There are many more unattractive dogs than cats because there are more dog breeds than cats. I’ll focus on cats, for obvious reasons.

The only cats that could be considered ugly are pedigree cats – cats that are part of an accepted cat breed and bred for sale.

There are no ugly random bred (freeborn cats) because nature made them and they were made that way for natural reasons of form and function, for survival. If a freeborn cat is ugly it is because he was born with a congenital defect or is mangy due to harsh living conditions. All wild cats are either majestic or at least highly impressive.

Ugly modern Siamese cat

Ugly? Modern Siamese cat/kitten. Overbreeding gone wrong slightly for me.

Cat breeds that might be considered ugly are bred to attract and please or interest the eye of the beholder, and as I said some people like ugly things. Actually, it is not really about liking ugly things it is about liking different, standout things. Owning something different lets the owner make a statement and sets the cat’s owner apart from the rest the neighbours. People want to be different, to be somebody and not anonymous (modern “celebrity culture” comes to mind). It is a way of making life more enjoyable and in the case of ugly looking cats that objective is achieved by owning a cat.

Peterbald cat - pictures of cats

Ugly? – Peterbald cat photo strictly ©copyright Helmi Flick

There are not many pedigree cats that can be considered ugly. Most cases of ugly cats are due to overbreeding causing anatomical defects. These are individual cats. As for cat breeds, the most extreme are the flat faced Persian and the rat faced modern Siamese. Sorry to be rude to the modern Siamese but it is a description used by a person, other than me, who knows cats well. Hairless, or semi-hairless cats, like the Peterbald could be considered ugly or unattractive. The ugliest dog breeds are also hairless – for example: Chinese Crested Hairless.

Conclusion: some cats are bred to be “ugly” but they are not really ugly, it depends on the person. Also breeding extreme looking cats that don’t look like the conventional cat is an extension of cat domestication. Sixty years ago all cat breeds looked a bit like random breed cats. Breeders wanted to do something different. There was only one way to go: extreme breeding and extreme appearance. This automatically makes the cat less attractive and less functional because the starting point – the freeborn cat – is perfect.

The reason for the existence of “ugly cats” is because people want them. It has nothing to do with nature and evolution.


Comments

Why are some cats and dogs bred to be ugly? — 4 Comments

  1. Tomcat Matata , Says, ” Why did they alter my breed from “Traditional Persian Cat” to “Ultra Persian Cat” .Don’t i have the looks of a cat film star as the original “Traditional Persian cat.Check my photo ?

  2. Wonderful post Michael.

    A word ”ugly” should not be offending – it means ”abnormal”, ”defective”. Breeding those disadvantaged cats is really cruel. Abnormalities so appealing to cat breeders effect the quality of cats lives and their ability to survive. It’s so wrong and yet people unable to see this reality. I pity all these cats – its not their fault that they are made to look this way. They deserve good loving homes. However I wish breeding of these disadvantaged animals would stop!

    • Thanks and agreed. It is all about what people like to do and to see but not about what is good for the cat. What I call human-centric. The Blinkered Human.

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