“The most active discussion on adverse breeding effects in companion animals has been in the German speaking community” (The Welfare of Cats page 261 – a section written by A Steiger).
It is nice to venture into other areas and visit German websites to see what the Germans have to say about cats and in this case breeding of all animals that have characteristics which lead to unnecessary suffering and which restrict life.
I don’t know much about the attitudes of Germans to anything. It is time to change that. As you can see, they have a word for extreme breeding leading to health issues – Qualzucht. The word quoted by Mr Steiger is “Qualzuchten”.
If a country has a word for extreme breeding of animals it indicates a concern and a commitment to prevent it. This pleases me no end because we should be concerned with animal welfare whatever form it takes. Perhaps Germany leads the way in this area. Germany is the only country I know of which bans torture breeding through animal welfare law.
Several mainstream cat breeds come to mind that might fall under the heading of Qualzucht. These just come to my mind while writing. This is not necessarily a complete list. There are fringe breeds such as the Squitten – a cat with deformed forelimbs.
- Modern flat-faced Persian – breathing (and other problems) – breeder defends her position – health.
- Exotic Shorthair – same as for Persian and overshot jaw problems
- American Burmese – rounded head causing severe brain problems and Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome (FOPS).
- Scottish Fold – thickening tail and swollen (thickened) feet
- Manx – Manx Syndrome – multiple health problems.
- Dwarf cats – controversial breeds (there are 14 dwarf cat breeds all hybrids of the Munchkin). The health issues however are quite moderate in truth although I am not arguing in favour of the dwarf breeds. Cat breeding for function and dwarf cat health.
- You might include a sixth, the Sphynx because hairlessness restricts natural behavior – cats can get sunburned and the cat lacks the protection of the coat which exists for a reason.
I have selected some links above. There are many more on PoC. Please search.
The Germans legislate against torture breeding. I believe the legislation is: § 11b of the Animal Welfare Act (prohibition of torture breeds). The law relates to many animals. In relation to cats these specific physical feature are listed:
- Kurzschwänzigkeit or taillessness (comment: Manx and Cymric – does this section include bobtailed cats?)
- Color lightening of the skin and the iris, numbness (my comment: right now I can’t think what this relates to except albino cats but there are no albino cat breeds)
- Folded and curled ears (comment: Scottish Fold and American Curl)
- Anomalies and variations of the coat (comment: there are many cat breeds i.e. hairless cats and rex cats which are often bald or semi-bald and the Peterbald for example).
- Chondrodysplasia – genetic skeletal disorder causing deformity (disproportionate dwarfism) which must refer to the dwarf cat breeds. These breeds are not accepted by mainstream cat associations in the USA and UK in any case.
- Polydactyly – extra toes (comment: there are no health problems associated with this condition as far as I am aware). I am surprised at this as polydactyly is fairly common in the Maine Coon although the CFA disqualifies polydactyl Maine Coons at cat shows.
- Brachycephalic head – rounded, short head. (comment: Persian and Exotic SH)
- Entropion – eyelid rubs eyeball. Affects Bengal and Persian. A weird inherited health condition affecting the Bengal is Bengal Nose (not listed) which is caused by inbreeding in my view.
In the UK, extreme breeding is not specifically banned. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not cover it (wrong? Please tell me in a comment). Germany is therefore ahead in this regard. Although, Britain tends to breed more moderately than North America. Indian breeders are fond of the “punch face Persian”.
Conclusion?: For me, I very much like the German approach. Breeding for appearance while turning a blind eye to health is a human self-indulgence which needs to be stopped and banned if necessary.
Update 26th Oct 2017: I have a new article on a new interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which is now deemed to cover torture breeding. The UK has caught up with Germany. Click on the link below:
Photo of fist by Elvert Barnes
I have to mention dogs briefly. Torture breeding affects dogs as well. Sadly, the most popular dog recently in the UK and one that was purchased more than any other breed during the Covid crisis, was the French bulldog; a breed which suffers from breathing problems due to extreme breeding. And it is sad to report that adopters are drawn in by the appearance because it’s cute but do not take cognizance of the health problems and indeed of the breeding of this dog which was frequently imported from puppy mills on the continent. Animal welfare laws need to protect people from themselves.
UK’s Kennel Club is aware of the breeds that are selectively bred to extreme and which would fall under the banner of torture breeding.
In Norway, the Oslo District Court has banned the breeding of two dog breeds: English bulldog and Cavalier King Charles spaniel. They both violate the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act Number 25.
In The Netherlands there is a general prohibition against breeding dogs with short noses i.e. a short muzzle, which causes breathing problems. The Pug was targeted by this policy in The Netherlands as were a dozen other dog breeds. The focus is on brachycephalic breeds because of the likelihood of respiratory syndrome (BAOS).
Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) should revise breed standards as the Kennel Club has done for the French bulldog