The RSPCA tell us (via The Times – thanks) that dumped Persian and Exotic Shorthair cats at their rescue centres take longer to be rehomed than moggies because people have begun to understand that there are expensive caregiving bills which is why they were dumped in the first place.
It would appear that, finally, reality is catching up with the popular flat-faced purebred cats. A breed that should be seriously reshapped via a renewed breed standard to improve its health.
Alice Potter, the charity’s cat welfare expert described what is happening very nicely in saying that it’s a case of “cute versus truth“.
People purchase flat-faced Persian and Exotic Shorthair kittens online where they do look cute to some people (but not to me). And impulse buyers tend to dive in and go ahead without really giving due thought to the cost of caregiving and the impact that looking after this kind of cat will have on their lives in the long term.
Alice Potter describes it again very nicely in saying the following:
“An online kitten advert is unlikely to tell potential cat owners about the possible issues they will suffer from, whereas reputable rescue centres will inform potential adopters about their complex needs. Someone who impulse buys a kitten online because they thought their flat faced features are cute is far less likely to be given information on the issues because the seller simply wants to make a profit with some kittens being sold for over £1000 online. Or they may not even know themselves. This means they are still increasingly popular pets and more are being bred to meet this demand. But the challenging reality of caring for them can mean they end up in rescue centres where they are sadly then often overlooked for adoption.”
Taking longer to rehome Persians than moggies
The RSPCA say that it takes a typical moggy about 29 days to find a new owner at their rescue centres. In contrast, on average, a Persian cat takes 68 days to find a new home.
The British Shorthair also has a flattish face. Nowhere near as extreme as the Persian. They take 46 days to be rehomed. The Birman takes 40 days to be rehomed. A semi-long-haired random bred cat takes 28 days.
Note: British SH is a good cat breed
There appears to be a backlash against these breeds although I must add that the British Shorthair does not have the kind of health problems that the Persian has because of extreme breeding. The British Shorthair is not bred to extreme normally and does not have distorted tear ducts and tear duct overflow issues which is one of the very long list of problems with the Persian.
List of things to do in caring for a flat faced cat
As Alice Potter mentioned, flat faced cats have complex needs. This is both in terms of day-to-day care and in veterinary care with the accompanying expense. Caregivers should consider insurance which is an added financial burder and vet prices are going up in the UK.
For example for the Persian:
Eye care: flat face cats are prone to eye-related issues such as excessive tearing and tear duct overflow, eye infections and corneal ulcers. The tear ducts overflow because they are distorted because of the flat face. The tears don’t drain through the tear duct but down the side of the nose instead. This stains the fur either side of the nose which needs to be washed off with solutions such as Angel Eyes (Amazon).
Eating: this may surprise people but because Persian cats have entirely flat face they have difficulty eating normally without getting wet food all over their face. And it means food particles can get up their nose. Dry cat food particles can be dangerous if inhaled and become lodged in the nasal cavities. Their face is simply not designed for eating out of a bowl. In an ideal world the food should be in a mound so they can pick at it without getting food all over their face. I have written about that problem in a previous post which you can read by clicking on this link if you wish.
Nose cleaning: the short snout can result in difficulty in breathing and there can be an accumulation of dirt or debris around the nostrils. The nose should be kept clean by gently wiping with a damp cloth.
Dental health: flat-face cats are more prone to dental problems including misaligned jaws (extreme breeding gone wrong), overcrowding and tooth decay. Regular dental checkups are important and it is probably wise to acclimatise a kitten to having their teeth cleaned regularly.
Grooming: this is another major issue with that face Persians. They also have overly-long fur which demands the intervention of their owner in keeping it from being matted. This means daily brushing and grooming. Or a lion cut. Extra attention should be paid to the belly and armpits and behind the ears as these are typical spots where matting can happen.
Poop on bottom: Poop can becomes stuck to the fur around the bottom. They call them dingleberries! Lion cut is the solution or regular cleaning.
Respiratory health: as mentioned, flat faced cats can have difficulty breathing because their airways are shortened. The environmental temperature should not be extreme. The air quality should be good. The home environment should be free of irritants such as smoke, dust and strong chemicals.
Weight management: flat-face cats can be prone to weight gain and therefore a good diet well-controlled is important to prevent obesity. The advice is to consult with your veterinarian on diet.
Regular veterinary checkups: you may not be aware that purebred Persian cats have a high predisposition to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD – 35% of Persian cats develop this disease on my research). Regular veterinary checkups will be needed to keep an eye on this issue and other health issues.
Indoors: it is likely that a purebred, pedigree Persian cat is going to remain indoors all their lives for their security and safety. This puts an onus on the caregiver to ensure that the environment is as enriched as possible to mentally stimulate their cat.
Temperature regulation: flat face cats can be more sensitive to heat because of their compromised breathing. It’s important to ensure that the home does not become too hot.
Monitor breathing: it is probably wise to keep an eye on a flat-faced cat’s breathing and to watch out for any distress or excessive panting, wheezing or difficulties.
Although hairless cats have not been mentioned by the RSPCA as they are not dumped at their shelters perhaps partly because they are quite rare but this is a good opportunity to take a brief look at the special complex needs in looking after hairless cats.
For example for the hairless cats:
Regular bathing: the sebaceous glands on all cats deliver oils to the hairs to keep the coat in good condition and waterproof. If there’s no hair the oil sits on the skin where it collects dirt. The hairless cats become greasy and dirty and therefore require regular bathing around once a week with a mild cat-specific shampoo.
Skin moisturising: bathing can dry the skin out and therefore it needs moisturising with a cat-friendly moisturiser or lotion. Consult your veterinarian for details if you feel the need.
Sun protection: as you might imagine hairless cats are susceptible to sunburn because there is no coat to protect them. They’ve got to be kept indoors during peak sunlight hours. If they go outside they should be protected by a shady area.
Temperature control: hairless cats are as you might expect more sensitive to temperature changes. The environment should be warm especially in winter months. You can use blankets or cat beds with heating pads et cetera.
Ear cleaning: hairless cats are prone to a waxy buildup causing dirty air flaps. The ears should be checked regularly and they should be cleaned carefully. Caregivers should avoid forcing anything into the ear canal with an implement such as an ear bud.
Indoor environment: should be enriched because is likely that a hairless cat will be kept indoors full-time. This will cost money and take some input from the caregiver.
Regular veterinary checkups: it is probably wise with a hairless cat to seek regular veterinary checkups because of their complex needs.
To return to the RSPCA – Molly
They say that Persian cats are increasingly being dumped when their owners hit the truth barrier and realise that they can be expensive to look after. The charity reports on a story of a seven-year-old Persian cat called Molly. She has been at one of their shelters for 93 days. She was relinquished by her owner who couldn’t cope with caring for her and her breathing was very raspy and she had the usual eye problems. And as mentioned she had difficulty in eating. Molly is still looking for a home.
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