We tend to like pets that look like babies and some breed standards go for that look: round heads and big eyes. Do all breeders understand the consequences of their actions? I am not against dog and cat breeders. I am against people who hurt animals or create animals that hurt. There are several examples. I’ll mention a few here.

The King Charles spaniel is bred for a compact head. The American Burmese is bred for a rounded head. The Persian is breed for a flat face stuck on to a rounded head.

Using MRI scans, scientists have discovered that the brains of King Charles spaniels are squashed into an undersized skull. Brains need to float in fluid to reduce pressure. As the heart beats or a dog is active the brain gets bigger because of increased blood. As there is insufficient room for the brain to expand it is believed that an estimated 15% (at a minimum) of these dogs spend their whole lives in terrible pain. Signs are lethargy, unwillingness to run and jump and quietness (withdrawn). I find the thought of that very distressing Not only is the brain squashed it is deformed.

American Burmese cats can suffer from a condition called Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome (FOPS). The cat suffers from acute pain in the mouth and face to the point where the cat self-mutilates. This is thought to be inherited. The breeders should know by now what causes it. The American Burmese has other health problems one of which is also to do with the brain. It is called “Burmese Head”. Mercifully the kittens usually die at birth.

On a lesser scale, how much discomfort do Persians suffer from all their lives due to poor breathing caused by a deformed nose? Or the high incidence of PKD (a kidney disease). How much pain does kidney disease cause? I don’t know.

Do breeders ignore the possible consequences of their actions? Are they too involved in creating what they consider to be an interesting looking dog or cat that meets those strange breed standards?

How do the scientists know that these animals feel pain? Well, it is not easy to diagnose. However, there is a similar human condition called Chiari malformation. People who have it describe the highest levels of pain (10/10).

Adjusting breed standards to a more normal appearance is long overdue. That is a minimum requirement. Some would say it is time to stop breeding cats and dogs altogether.

The cat associations annoy me. In some breeds they promote ill-health. This can never be justified. What is very disturbing for me is knowing that right now in the world there are many purebred companion animals in pain because of breeding methods.

Never give pain killers to cats and dogs without veterinary supervision.

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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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