In a strongly worded piece called, “Brachycephalia: a bastardisation of what makes cats special,” the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) and European Society of Feline Medicine are calling on veterinarians to speak out about extreme conformation in cats.
In a recent paper in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS),
Claudia Schlueter and colleagues have implemented a variety of techniques to
illustrate how distorted the cranial skull anatomy has become in extreme
brachycephalic cats such as Persians and Exotics. In other words, it’s not healthy for cats with those pushed in faces. Looking at several
different degrees of brachycephalia they also show how the tear ducts can be easily blocked, and most tears do not drain into the
nasal cavity at all.
Fortunately, to a large degree, pedigree cat
breeding has not seen such a plethora of damaging extremes as exists
among dog breeds. However, the report says, for anyone genuinely concerned for the true
health and welfare of cats it is impossible to ignore this situation.
According to the FAB, it’s time to take a
firm stand against breeding of extreme types (not just Persians) where
the health and welfare of the cat is compromised, even calling the practice causing the greatest degrees of brachycephalia unethical.
Well, if you agree about how FAB feels about cat breeders, then dog breeders are even more guilty of faulty ethics. Brachycephalia is more common and more extreme among many dog breeds.
The physical resulting problems causes suffering and even limitations on daily quality of life. If indeed you think cat breeders have gone too far, it seems clear dog breeders have, likely even more so. While flying in cargo has it’s own set of potential issues for any pet, airlines have officially noted that brachycehpalic dogs are most at risk.
Among the breeds most affected by brachycephalia are the Bulldog, Pekingese, French Bulldog and Pug. If your dog looks like he/she has run into the back end of a car – may be should no longer consider ‘that look’ cute. It turns out there is a price paid for dogs and cats.
Australian feline specialist Dr Richard Malik writes in an editorial for JFMS:
“The basic design of the domestic cat is fundamentally sound. Why mess
with it? It’s a design that evolved through functionality. Cats need to
hunt, kill prey, in turn avoid being killed by predators, reproduce and
lead a vigorous athletic life. The result is a fit, elegant, lithe
animal that should, if fed and housed properly, have few health issues
and live a long life.
“In contrast, severely brachycephalic cats
are a bastardisation of all the things that make cats special. They have
a nasolacrimal system that doesn’t work properly, so tears stream down
the front of their face causing staining and secondary dermatitis. It
doesn’t help that they often have excessive folds of skin that rub
against the cornea. Their orbit is shallow, leading to exophthalmos, the
tendency to exposure keratitis and growth of corneal sequestra. Their
teeth erupt at such bizarre angles that they cannot masticate properly.
But it doesn’t stop there. Stenotic nares, stenotic nasal cavities and a
soft palate that is way too long for the length of the head cause upper
airway obstruction, stridulous breathing and possibly obstructive sleep
The brain is crammed into the wrong-sized cranial vault, so
conceivably we may soon be seeing Budd Chiari-like malformations and
syringomyelia, just like in cavalier King Charles Spaniels.”
No doubt in the UK, and ultimately here in America – if breeders don’t pay attention, they may be forced to.