google-site-verification: google28f501b00d980d5f.html Flat-faced felines are paying the price for perfection warns Battersea - Vetpol Community

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Flat-faced felines are paying the price for perfection warns Battersea

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  • Flat-faced felines are paying the price for perfection warns Battersea

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    Leading animal welfare charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has today warned that cats, much like their canine counterparts, are needlessly suffering because they have been bred to look a certain way. The charity’s warning comes after six flat-faced cats arrived at the London rescue centre in the same week, with all but the youngest two, a pair of three-week-old kittens, requiring medical treatment for breed-related health issues.
    In recent years animal welfare and veterinary organisations have successfully raised public awareness about the health crisis facing brachycephalic, or ‘flat faced’, dogs, and Battersea believes that more must now be done to make cats part of the conversation.
    With their huge eyes, tiny noses and lush manes of fur, it is easy to see why breeds with exaggerated features such as Persian, Exotic Shorthair and Scottish Fold cats can be appealing, both to potential owners and to the millions of social media users who follow accounts dedicated to these types of cat.
    From celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Martha Stewart regularly posting photos of their Scottish Fold and Persian cats to millions of followers, to hashtags such as ‘flat face’ and ‘flat face cat’ having over 435,000 and 75,000 Instagram users respectively, Battersea believes that social media has played a role in glamourising health defects in cats, turning them in to something viewed as ‘cute’ and desirable by an unsuspecting public. Internet star Grumpy Cat, arguably the most famous feline in the world and definitely the most recognisable thanks to her exaggerated facial features, had a staggering 2.7 million followers before she passed away earlier this year, whilst a Chinchilla Persian cat named Wilfred became an overnight sensation around the world after a video of him went viral due to his unusual appearance including bulging eyes and a severe underbite.

    Battersea’s Head Vet, Shaun Opperman said: “At Battersea we treat our 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.”

    There are several pedigree cat breeds that face genetic health issues, however one of the breeds that most consistently requires medical attention upon arriving at Battersea, is the Persian. One such cat is CeeCee, a four-year-old Persian currently residing at Battersea’s London cattery while she waits for crucial surgery to help her breathe. When CeeCee first arrived, her fur was heavily matted, she was suffering from excessively watery eyes and it didn’t staff long to notice that whenever she moved around, her breathing became laboured. Vets at Battersea’s Clinic are now considering whether to operate on the young cat’s nose to widen her almost non-existent nostrils in a bid to make breathing easier for her. These same vets recently performed surgery on a male four-year-old Persian named Rucca to remove one of his eyes, which had become irreparably damaged due to chronic ulceration, an issue faced by many flat-faced cats.

    Rucca wasn’t the only Persian with severe eye problems to arrive at one of Battersea’s centres in recent months. Last year the charity’s Old Windsor centre took in Humphrey, a Persian with a lifelong history of conjunctivitis and weeping eyes that required daily cleaning. Beneath his fur the three-year-old cat had excessive skin folds including around his eyes which had led to painful dermatitis.
    While charities like Battersea do everything they can to help these cats, many of the problems they face cannot be cured and they will continue to face a level of discomfort or health issues for the rest of their lives.

    Shaun added: “If it weren’t for the unrelated circumstances that brought these cats to Battersea, they would have potentially continued suffering for the rest of their lives, possibly without their owners ever believing anything was wrong. With many of the pedigree cats that are brought to us, we can see that the owners clearly loved their pets, however their lack of breed knowledge means that they have unknowingly neglected their care, such as not grooming often enough or failing to consult a vet at the right time.

    “As with any type of cat, pedigrees can of course make wonderful pets for the right owners, however we would urge anyone thinking of adding a cat to the family to first consider adopting from a rescue like Battersea. If you do have your heart set on buying a cat, do your research first and ensure that you make a decision based on your lifestyle and an individual cat’s needs, rather than what might get the most likes on Instagram.”

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