Six flat-faced Persian cats arrived at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in one week because they required medical treatment for issues relating to the fact that they have been selectively bred in an extreme manner causing an unnaturally flat face.
I would like to make this point first. It’s about time someone in authority (and this rescue centre does have authority) spoke up against the contemporary, flat-based Persian cat. I have been doing it for about 12 years. It is an important topic to discuss because people should not be creating cats which are inherently healthy just because they think they look interesting and desirable. Frankly, I don’t think they look interesting or desirable but the cat breeders disagree with me.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home say that the breed that requires the most medical treatment at their facilities is the Persian. They have provided some examples which have been discussed on the metro.co.uk website. One Persian cat currently at the clinic, I believe, and whose name is Rucca, had chronic ulceration of his right eye which had to be removed. The photograph is very upsetting.
Another Persian cat called Humphrey had similar issues. He had conjunctivitis and weeping eyes which needed daily cleaning. He also had dermatitis caused by excessive skin folds.
These problems cannot be cured because they have been bred into the cat. They are anatomical anomalies which generate chronic health issues.
“At Battersea we treat animals for a wide variety of health issues, a number of which are specifically related to how these animals have been bred to look. In an apparent quest to make them look increasingly photogenic or fashionable, these cats can sadly spend their whole lives suffering with a range of health problems ranging from matted fur and eye infections to difficulty breathing and degenerative diseases.”Battersea’s head vet Shaun Opperman
Yes, it’s true, and I’m sure you are aware of this, the Persian cat can have breathing difficulties because of the flat face which squashes the nose into the face. They also suffer from tear duct overflow because the tear ducts have been distorted by breeding so that they do not drain away the tears properly.
Also around 30% of Persian cats suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) according to my research.
An additional problem with this extreme breeding is that the people who adopt these cats for their appearance are often unaware of the health issues associated with the breed and therefore they end up out of their depth and sometimes sadly fail to take care of their cat properly. This is why six Persian cats have arrived at Battersea Dogs & Cats home this year for medical treatment.
There is one final point worth making: celebrities tend to promote these extreme breeds because they adopt them. They are doing cats a disservice. Celebrities have a responsibility to promote animal welfare and they can be very powerful in this goal.