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.
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
|Syringomyelia (33% suffer from this painful condition)
|Heart disease (50% affected by aged 5,
100% by aged 10)
|Flat-faced Persian cat
|PKD1 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?