The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Flat-faced Persian Cat

by Michael

Spaniel photo by Shames Privacy and Persian photo © Stockxpert

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Spaniel photo by Shames Privacy and Persian photo © Stockxpert

This sounds like an impossible comparison. In many ways it is. In one significant way it is not. I am referring to health problems due to over zealous selective breeding for appearance.

Pedigree AnimalCondition 1Condition 2
Cavalier King Charles SpanielSyringomyelia (33% suffer from this painful condition)Heart disease (50% affected by aged 5,
100% by aged 10)
Flat-faced Persian catPKD1 Polycystic Kidney Disease (over 37% of Persians have PKD1)Tear Duct Overflow (near 100% affected)

Regarding the Persian I have only selected two genetically inherited conditions. There are more. Click on the link to read about Persian cat health problems. Syringomyelia is a particularly nasty genetic disease in which the brain is much too large for the skull. It can cause a lot of pain and neurological problems.

I think you will agree that there is a nice symmetry when comparing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Modern Persian cat. Sadly it is an unhealthy symmetry. Dog breeding has been around much longer than cat breeding. The majority of dogs in the UK are purebred while the majority of cats are not. It is recognised by outsiders to the Kennel Club (the likes of you and me) that dog breeding has gone too far, to the extreme detriment of dogs' health. The senior veterinarian at the RSPCA described the world's number one dog show, Crufts, as "a parade of mutants".

These criticism came to light in the BBC programme, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed". Dog breeding hit the buffers in the UK. Things had to change but the breeders resisted. They had become blind to what they were doing or they were in denial. One breeder of a champion, best of breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel knew that her dog suffered form the excruciating condition syringomyelia, yet continued to breed from him. Apparently he sired over 30 puppies the vast majority having inherited the condition. When confronted she made no comment. The level of morality is very poor and clearly she had no concern for the health and welfare of her dogs.

In a follow-up television programme to "Pedigree Dogs Exposed", one breeder openly admitted to "culling" puppies who failed to meet up to the breed standard. In the cat breeding world, "culling" is said, by that respected book, "Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians", to refer to spaying and neutering breeding cats and removing them from the breeding line. For this dog breeder is meant killing them. She complained that new vets would not do it so she found some older vets with old fashioned ideas who complied with her request. She saw absolutely nothing wrong with it.

I wonder whether Robinson's Genetics is correct? I am sure some cat breeders kill kittens. I remember a discussion at a cat show in the USA during which the killing of non-standard kittens was mentioned. The breeder who was doing it said it was fine when it is done to very young kittens! After all they are not really living creatures are they?!

The point I am laboriously making is this. When cat breeding has been going on for as long as dog breeding in the UK, will it find itself in the same situation; a bunch of cat breeds that are so inbred that their survival is at stake?

Apparently the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was first "created" in the 1920s. It is said that it took less than one hundred years to ruin the breed through unregulated selective breeding. The Kennel Club now forbids mating between close relatives (mother to offspring and sister to brother, for example). This was common practise and probably still is as far as I am aware. Should the major cat associations forbid this in the purebred cat world?

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Flat-faced Persian Cat

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Apr 20, 2012
RE: Cavaliers NEW
by: Anonymous

My Cavaliers are 10, 12 and 14. None of them had mitral valve disease at the age of five. Responsible show breeders are working hard to get rid of heart disease in the breed.

2 thoughts on “The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Flat-faced Persian Cat”

  1. Not a bad comparison at all! The commonality of course is that both breeds have been the victim of the same process : breeder ignorance spurred on by ill conceived standards of points and poor judge guidance (the latter who should be withholding extremes of type instead of awarding and encouraging them). Great example of the animal fancies only thinking of the outside phenotype all the time – genotype be damned!

    Will the cat breed find itself in the same situation? It already is. And the registries do nothing to deter would-be “breeders” who are for the most part young and ignorant of the issues, to join their ranks. Nor do they take their fancies by the scruff of the neck and drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century – where we should all be mindful of the interests of the sentient animals we are playing god with.

    Dog breeding may have been around longer than cat breeding, but cat breeders have demonstrated that they’re no slouch in stuffing up the breeds either. The breeds are littered with examples of ill-advised “betterment”.

    Pedigree dogs exposed was a masterpiece – Jemima Harrison should be given a knighthood for service in the interests of the animal. I CANNOT WAIT to see if a counterpart emerges in due time in the case of cats – presumably with the same blinkered philistine response from breeders and the fancies.

    I wrote about some similar things recently, for anyone interested :

    In the cat fancy people keep being reminded they mustn’t get over-serious “it’s just an enjoyable hobby”. One needs to be mindful that we are not collecting model aeroplanes – these are living, breathing, sentient beings who also have rights (or should have them). One of these is to be able to live life without pain and free of discomfort.

    Thanks for a most thought provoking discussion – we enjoy your writing.

    • Great comment. Hobby breeders often just don’t have the sensitives required to think more seriously about what they are doing.

      And I agree that cat breeders constantly striving to produce a ‘better’ looking cat throw common sense and ethics away. If they had common sense and ethics to throw away.


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