Historians at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) studied the inbred monarchs of England and Scotland from 990 to 1800. They were inbred because marriages at that time were unions of convenience both politically and strategically. The most inbred monarch in the study was Charles II of Spain. His parents were uncle and niece. His father’s parents were first cousins once removed. His mother’s parents were cousins. And this went up the family tree. He was described as senile, lame and short and completely bald by the age of 35. Conversely, Elizabeth I was only very distantly related to Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII.
The point of that long introduction is that the inbred monarchs were much less capable than the non-inbred monarchs. It’s a question of capability and this must be linked to intelligence. So we can take it that inbred rulers are less capable than random bred rulers (there were none!). Elizabeth I was considered one of England’s most capable monarchs who presided over a golden age.
Perhaps I should say purebred rulers are less capable than random bred ones. I’ve used that language because that’s how humans describe cats. The purebred cats are prettier than the random bred cats. However people in the cat fancy and observers of the cat fancy never hear these experts discussing whether a purebred cat is more capable than a random bred cat. We only look at the appearance and frown at some of the health issues. So what about capability?
We know that purebred cats are inbred because that is what selective breeding is all about. It just depends how far you go but I would suspect that purebred cats are not much more or any less inbred than Charles II. Is that being unkind or unfair?
Might it be fair to say that some purebred cats are going to be less intelligent than the average because of inbreeding? Perhaps also some inbred cats are going to be less capable physically and in terms of their athleticism. There is no doubt that artificially bred cats are less healthy than random bred cats. I can remember my mother adopting a couple of blue British Shorthair cats from my sister. She wanted to give them up and I soon understood why.
They were inbred to an extreme and it had affected their intelligence. There are noticeably lacking in sparkle. They had dull personalities and moped around the house all the time doing nothing. I think it is possible to recognise intelligence and the opposite in domestic cats and there is no doubt in my mind that these cats were selectively bred to the point where it had impacted their cognitive abilities. They became less capable in the words of the scientists at the University of California.
It would be interesting to have a discussion about the impact that inbreeding has on the capability of domestic cats. Let’s be clear, all purebred cats are inbred and it is accepted as it is part of the breeding process. It is not considered as something bad or wrong. It’s a question of how it is done and how closely bred the cats are. Go too far – and you see this sometimes in pictures on the Internet – you end up with say an Exotic Shorthair or Persian with huge bulging eyes and a misaligned jaw, for example. The cat becomes noticeably ugly as was the case with Charles II with his jutting Habsburg jaw and short, lame appearance at 35 years of age.