Categories: Persian cat

Persian cats can’t groom themselves properly. I explain why.

A relatively high percentage of Persian cats have haircoat disorders because they are unable to groom themselves properly

A recent study published on the nature.com website tells us that almost 13% of Persian cats have hair coat disorders compared to only 2.5% of non-purebred cats. Of all other purebred cats, on average, 5.6% have hair coat disorders. Therefore, we can see right away that the Persian cat has a coat problem which, it is argued, is linked to other health issues concerning this purebred cat which in turn are linked to breeding issues in my view (overbreeding).

Are Persian Cats Healthy? I am afraid not. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. The extreme flat face is apparent in this photo.

The study found that of 3,235 Persian cats assessed, 65% had at least one disorder recorded (remarkably high percentage). The most common of which was a disorder with respect to their coat. In addition 11.3% of Persian cats suffer from periodontal disease (gum disease), 7.2% had overgrown nails and 5.8% had ocular discharge (eye discharge issues). The most common disorder groups concerned the skin (dermatological) at 17.9%. Eye problems accounted for 15% of the cats and dental issues concerned 12.3%. Persian cat lived an average for 13.5 years. Comment: this is shorter than average for non-purebred cats due to polycystic kidney disease (my comment).

Haircoat

Drilling down into the issues regarding haircoat disorders, the study suggested that problems with their coat are closely interlinked with overall health issues of Persian cats. It is suggested that the reasons why Persian cat suffer from coat disorders is because (1) the coat is very long and dense. Underneath the long guard hairs there is the undercoat of down hairs and the cat is unable to get to the down hairs and skin to groom themselves effectively and (2) the prevalence of gum disease in Persian cats may make grooming uncomfortable. The scientists say that the not sure whether the gum disease prevents grooming or whether the grooming causes gum disease. I would suggest that the former is correct.

The study authors recommend that when clients take their Persian cats to veterinarians and encounter matted coats, the veterinarian should evaluate the cats carefully for dental disease as it is likely that these two conditions go together.

In addition, the study indicates the importance of Persian cat owners’ duty in assisting their cat in grooming by brushing their coat regularly. It seems, and I’ve mentioned this before, Persian cats cannot groom themselves adequately alone. They need the input of their human companions to assist them. In my view this is a clear failure in breeding. Cats should be able to behave naturally and be able to self-maintain. If extreme breeding interferes in natural behave it should be banned.

Another problem with the Persian’s coat is that faecal material can gather at the cat’s perineum which in warm countries can promote fly strike which can be fatal if not properly addressed.

Study referred to: Persian cats under first opinion veterinary care in the UK: demography, mortality and disorders — Dan G. O’Neill, Charlotte Romans, Dave C. Brodbelt, David B. Church, Petra Černá & Danièlle A. Gunn-Moore

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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