Are Persian Cats Healthy?

Some Persian cats have eyes that protrude so much that their eyeballs fall out under minor trauma. Others suffer brain damage due to their rounded skulls.

Although I have written extensively on this website about unhealthy Persian cats because of extreme selective breeding, today, in the Times newspaper there is an interesting article written by Jonathan Leake entitled: Fad for Baby-Faced Cats Creating Mutants Doomed to a Life of Pain.

This is not news. The Times journalist has presented the article as if it is something new but it is not. This problem with Persian cats has been around for a very long time. However, it is nice to be reminded of the problem and the article does refer to some new information, for me.

A recent study on the impact of pedigree breeding included the scanning of the skulls of 92 Persian cats and comparing them with the skulls of regular domestic shorthair cats. The scans confirm what we know or suspected, namely that the Persians’ flat-faced appearance has been created by selective breeding to produce a:

“shrunken skull combined with a lower jaw so huge that many such animals struggle to eat, drink or even breathe.”

Professor Martin Schmidt, a vet at Justus Liebig University near Frankfurt, who carried out the study said:

“The health problems are serious, including brain damage. We see cats that are deaf and blind, and the owners don’t even notice. Many Persians cannot drink from a water bowl because they would drown in it. They also have protruding eyes, which tend to fall out after minor trauma. Unfortunately, a lot of owners consider the symptoms normal.”

It appears that the trend for extreme cat breeds continues. You would have thought that it would have abated once potential adopters became more aware of the health problems associated with extreme breeding. But apparently not. Let’s not forget that the extreme Persian has been around for 50 years or more.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

“About 90% of people owning brachycephalic [flat-faced] cats are unaware of the health problems when they choose their pet”. (Gudrun of Ravetz of the British Veterinary Association). I hope this article helps to educate.

Concerned animal advocates fear that the trend for extreme cat breeds is a repeat of what has happened with dogs where a similar demand for flat-faced dogs is currently underway. I’m referring for example to French bulldogs and pugs. Many of these “mutant” canines have skulls so distorted that they too often struggle to breathe.

It is said that there are 8 million cats in Britain and the proportion of regular domestic shorthair and longhair cats i.e. random bred cats, has declined since the enthusiasm for purebred pedigree cats took hold. Persians are among the U.K.’s top five most popular breeds.

A British veterinarian, Andy Sparkes said:

“We have reached the stage where many Persian cats have such flattened faces they have no nose profile at all. These animals often have problems breathing or eating, and the eyes can be affected by ulcers because the eyelids do not cover the protruding eyeball”.

Cats with round heads and flat faces have anthropomorphic faces by which I mean they look like babies and therefore look cute and in turn sell well. But the cuteness relies on skull deformities which cause lifelong health problems.

In addition to the above, the Persian cat has a very high rate of polycystic kidney disease and other issues such as tear duct overflow. In addition the fur can be so long that it must be groomed by the owner at regular intervals. You would have thought that a cat could maintain his coat by himself. That would be natural. But for Persians it is impossible signifying the extreme nature of the breeding, creating abnormality.

Many years ago I wrote about Persian cat health problems and you can read that article by clicking on the following link: Persian Cat Health Problems.

In conclusion, therefore, the answer to the question in the title to this article is a categorical, NO. If you want a Persian cat adopt a doll-faced Persian or the original, normal conformity Persian.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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10 Responses

  1. M E King says:

    profile picture

  2. M E King says:

    Thank you for addressing the deformity that has become standard for Persian cats. There are several outstanding breeders of doll faced persian cats. While it’s highly doubtful our Little Mercy is any type of purebred a few googles led me to doll faced persians because I typed in doll faced cat.

    • Michael Broad says:

      She has a beautiful, normal slightly rounded face with a shortened muzzle but entirely natural. Just like a doll face Persian. Gorgeous tortie coat.

      • M E King says:

        I am completely besotted by her. She was a throw-a-way sent back to the shelter for biting, scratching and growling. Something she has never exhibited here. As always curiosity over her tiny body and baby doll looks got me to do a bit of research. Pugs and Persians…what a mess.

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