Extreme flat-face Persian cats are, according to a research paper carried out in 2017 by German scientists, equivalent to children suffering from a condition called coronal craniosynostosis. This is a rare condition where a baby’s skull does not grow properly causing an irregular head shape. I would suggest in fact that the abnormality of the shape of the skull of a typical flat-faced Persian cat is more severe and the health consequences are dramatically severe according to this study by Schmidt et al. 2070 published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Please do not be put off by the fact that I am referring to a scientific study. The conclusions are plain to see and require no scientific background or knowledge.
The website International Cat Care spells out these horrendous health issues. It makes for uncomfortable reading but I wonder how many owners of extreme flat-faced contemporary versions know about these health problems. Of course, there is a range of Persian cats with flat faces some are less extreme than others but at the most extreme, the space inside the skull is insufficient to accommodate the brain which is compressed.
In the study, a third of the Persian cats had signs of internal hydrocephalus. This is a buildup of fluid inside the brain. The condition is linked to seizures and blindness.
Shockingly, it is stated that the back of the brain in extremely flat-faced Persian cats, protruded out of the base of the skull and into the spinal cord. This even occurred with Persian cats with less extreme flat faces.
And in five of the cats studied, the compression of the brain were so bad that the back of the brain had been pushed out of the skull into the place where the spinal cord is located. Unsurprisingly, these kittens were unable to walk or stand and were not alert. They had heard tremors, misaligned eyes, uncontrolled eye movement and abnormal breathing patterns. Also horrifically, their owners reported long-lasting moments when they screamed aimlessly.
These kittens were euthanised but they suffered tremendously in their short lives. And all because the breeders were irresponsible and wanted to follow a misconceived Cat Fanciers’ Association breed standard which insists on this breed having abnormal faces which they think looks pretty.
I have never found out why the organisers of Cat Fanciers’ Association decided that the Persian cat should look like this. There is no logic in it and it is immoral. Of course, not all Persian cat breeders follow this breed standard and there are the traditional (doll face) Persian cats, which don’t have such flat faces.
And it is sad to note that the researchers reported that “owners often describe their cats as ‘dummies’, sometimes running into objects or falling from the windowsill. They are often uninterested in playing and have reduced social interactions with other cats and with the owner”. What about that? Clearly, they have cognitive problems and they are brain damaged or disabled simply through irresponsible, selective breeding. And the CFA stand by disinterested in these disastrous health problems which have been knowingly and deliberately created.
The breeders think that they are simply breeding cats with interesting and different facial appearance but what they are producing is a cat with a head shape which, as mentioned, is akin to a human suffering from a serious condition called coronal craniosynostosis.
The problem doesn’t end there. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans) on the skulls of kittens with extreme flat-faced brachycephalic heads and they discovered that there were holes in the skull. They also discovered that there were abnormalities in the bones of the nasal cavity which blocked the nasal passages causing breathing difficulties.
We know that flat-faced Persians have breathing difficulties which by the way is the same problem with flat-faced dogs such as the Pug and Bulldog suffer from. I should add, too, that around 35% of Persian cats suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and they always suffer from tear duct overflow which causes staining from the inner corner of the eye down the side of the nose. But these are minor issues compared to those that I have described above.
It should be added too, by the way, that this type of breeding causes misaligned jaws and you will see this particularly, in my experience researching on the Internet, in Exotic Shorthairs which as you know is the shorthaired version of the Persian.
The International Cat Care authors are very sensitive towards breeders and don’t want to upset them because their website was founded by a breeder and cat lover over 60 years ago. But they are compelled to write about it. And the problem is compounded by the fact that they wrote about this problem in 2017. Five more years have elapsed and nothing has changed. Extreme flat-based Persians are still rolling off the production lines by irresponsible breeders blindly following a breed standard which automatically causes ill-health and sometimes very severe ill-health.
As I recall, Germany had banned this cat breed because it is produced through ‘torture breeding’ as they describe it. In a better world, the legislatures of the 50 states of the USA would also have banned this breed.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.