Extremes of skull variation in cat breeds

There are extremes of skull variation in cat breeds because of a natural propensity in humans to go too far in this sort of project and because breed standards have to ensure that the breeds are sufficiently differentiated one from another.

Extremes of skull variation on cat breeds

Extremes of skull variation on cat breeds. Montage: MikeB based on (1) CFA image of Siamese as an ideal skull shape and (2) image in public domain of Persian on Pinterest.

The slenderising of the Siamese is due to what the breeders believed was making the cat more elegant. It is a conventional concept of elegance based, I suspect, on the ideal body shape of women. Slender women are considered elegant. So why not do the same for domestic cats?

Slender Siamese based on elegance of slender women

Slender Siamese based on elegance of slender women. Image: MikeB based on (1) photo in public domain and (2) photo by Chanan.


Over many decades the old-style Siamese became the contemporary Siamese and we are left with two different breeds with the same name. The cat fancy realised the problem and created a third Siamese cat but called it the Thai. The result? More confusion.

The drive to create the flat-faced Persian was motivated by a desire to create a pansy-faced cat, flowering beautifully before your eyes. The face had to be flat as pansies are flat. To heck with the distorted anatomy which inevitably caused health problems.

Pansy and pansy-headed Persian cat

Pansy and pansy-headed Persian cat. Image: MikeB based on (1) pansy in public domain (2) photo by Helmi Flick.

In the words of the definitive book on cat genetics, Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, “However, the characteristic head conformation is primarily the outcome of many years of selective breeding.”

This form of artificial breeding which is the opposite to natural selection results in the bones of the head and face being altered. In the Persian it resulted in an “excessively short nose or a very prominent nasal depression (or ‘stop’) [which] can interfere with normal breathing”. There are other interferences with the body’s natural function because of these distorted bones.

The concept of extreme breeding is a great weakness in the cat fancy. It is a demonstration of failure and pandering to human ill-discipline. The CFA and other cat associations have allowed themselves to feed their desire to play God with animals and mould them as if sculpting in clay. The problem is that if an artist creates a clay sculpture they can change it at will in a minute but it takes decades of selective breeding to create an extreme breed and the same time to change it back to a non-extreme version.

The CFA needs a clear out of the people on its administration who perpetuate extreme, unhealthy breeds and the same for the breeds themselves. The world has been jump started, because of the pandemic, into being more environmentally conscious. That mentality may encourage buyers of cat breeds to turn towards more natural breeds whose appearance is how nature intended.


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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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