Criticize the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) because it lacks sufficient focus on health and is too cautious

I first wrote about criticising the Cat Fanciers’ Association about 12 years ago or more. That criticism concerning the ‘Twisty Cat’ can be seen in the second part of this page. In the first part I want to also mention how the CFA have single-handedly, by design, created an unhealthy cat breed namely the Persian which is in conflict with their policy on health.

The CFA states that no breeding should create inherently unhealthy cats. It’s an underpinning policy which cuts through all the cat breeds. And yet from about the middle of the 20th century until the end of that century they “refined” the Persian cat which was once a very beautiful cat to a point where it became ugly in the eyes of many with a brachycephalic head and a face which is as flat as a saucer. Some Persian cats have concave faces which is astonishing. But all the components of the face have to be in vertical alignment, the breed standard states. The Indians call it the ‘punch-face Persian’.

CFA Code of Ethics (2022):

“I will breed my cats with the intent of improving the breed and to produce healthy, happy kittens.”

And yet their breed standard insists that the Persian face is distorted:

CFA Persian breed standard
CFA Persian breed standard which automatically creates an unhealthy cat due to the flat face causing breathing issues and tear duct overflow. Some airlines won’t transport Persians because of breathing problems. Their coat is also inherently unhealthy as it is too long. They can’t autogroom properly.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
Punch face Persian
Punch face Persian. Collage by PoC. Image of fist in public domain. Image of cat unattributed.
Persian cat completely shaved except for his face
Jin Jin after visiting the barber for a short back and sides

RELATED: Former president of Cat Fanciers’ Association says that Persians are overtyped in America (bred to extreme and too much)

Because of this intransigence in insisting that Persian cats should have this deformed facial anatomy, the popularity of the Persian has dropped from first place, over many years, to 3rd place today. The Ragdoll and the Maine Coon are both now more popular than the Exotic (the shorthaired Persian) and the Persian itself. This must be a reflection of the inherited health problems suffered by the Persian cat.

Both the Ragdoll and the Maine Coon also have inherited health problems but they are not as severe as those of the Persian. The Persian’s flat face causes tear duct overflow and about a third of all Persian cats, on my last research, suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD). It’s horrible. People have come to understand this problem and now recognise it as something which detracts from the breed.

I therefore have to criticise the Cat Fanciers’ Association for not taking steps to rectify this obvious problem. I hope that due to the gradual waning in the popularity of the Persian they will now take steps to alter the breed standard to allow Persian cats to once again be healthier and mirror the original appearance which is described as the doll-face Persian. That is the original look and frankly it is a far more attractive look as well as being healthier.

Twisty Cat and the CFA – published on Jan 1, 2010.

I criticize the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) again, I am afraid and I don’t want to (see also Cat Fanciers Association Against Cruelty). I have just been reading the page on their website about the “Twisty Cats”. The association wanted to make a comment about what they called the worldwide expression of horror at this cat.

Twisty Cat - Not a Cabbit
Twisty Cat – Not a Cabbit

The Twisty Cat is a cat with a genetic or developmental deformity of the forelegs, as I understand it. They occurred in a strain of polydactyl cats. A breeder deliberately breeds from this defect trying to reproduce it rather than avoiding it or breeding it out as would be the normal course of events. I don’t want to go into the Twisty Cat but it is a matter of commonsense that it is wrong to breed a cat with a defect, particularly when it is intended to retain the defect or make the defect the whole reason for the breed of cat.

What I find wrong also is the lack of condemnation from the CFA. Even if one could argue that it is not the CFA’s place to condemn then they could at least give us their opinion but all they say in their comment is that the association “does not have authority in matters such as this”. They also proudly and correctly proclaim that they are the world’s largest registry of pedigree cats with a worldwide influence as a consequence. In other words, they lead the world in respect of the subject of pedigree cats.

In my considered opinion, therefore they owe a duty to act in leading and managing the world of pedigree cats. Yet they weakly sit on the fence in an uncommitted and highly cautious and reactionary way (we will deal with Twisty cats if someone tries to register them). They do have the authority and obligation to comment, guide and direct the cat fancy generally. I have said in the past that they should tackle the dichotomy between the slaughter of feral cats in large numbers and the breeding of cats by their members. They completely pass that one by. What is also painfully apparent is that they contradict themselves on this web page.

The Cat Fanciers Association say they are dedicated to the “physical soundness” of registered cats. This cannot be completely true as their breed standard in respect of flat faced Persians causes health problems, the most obvious being tear duct overflow. You see cat breeders washing and wiping away the tear stains at shows. Once again, the CFA are sitting on the fence. In my view the top management at the CFA should show more commitment and courage in their management of the cat fancy by leading with action and not simply alluding to the idea of being the leading cat association. I don’t want to criticize the Cat Fanciers Association but in the name of the silent and accepting companion cat, I feel I must.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

follow it link and logo