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News Article

Study of flat-faced cats highlights respiratory problems

There is growing evidence to show that brachycephalic cats are suffering from a number of health problems.

A study from the University of Edinburgh, published in PLoS ONE, shows that flatter-faced (brachycephalic) cats are more likely to have breathing problems.

Brachycephalic cats have a shortened muzzle which constricts nasal passages and can result in respiratory and feeding problems. In addition, the tear fluid cannot drain normally from the eyes, explaining why such cats have permanent eye discharge and tear staining of the face. The eye and facial abnormalities can result in chronic inflammation of the eyes and problems with skin infections in the folds around the flattened nose and across the face. Many affected cats also have difficulty in picking up food, as the jaw is also malformed, with teeth and jaw being misaligned.

For the University of Edinburgh study, hundreds of owners submitted photographs of their cats and completed a detailed health survey so that researchers could measure the facial features of the cats and assess breathing abnormalities (noisy breathing or difficulty breathing after exercise). The research confirmed that flatter-faced cats (of breeds such as the Persian or Exotic Shorthair), were more likely to have breathing problems and that the breathing difficulties were also associated with increased tear staining and a more sedentary lifestyle.

Claire Bessant, Chief Executive of the charity International Cat Care said, “It is very depressing to see the life which has been deliberately dealt to some breeds of cats because of a human desire to develop a certain look. I urge cat lovers to speak out and help others to understand that this is not something we should be doing to cats, and not something we should be tolerating. One of the best and most beautifully naturally designed animals – the cat – would not normally have any of these problems; we have created them through selective breeding. We should not be encouraging people to breed these cats by calling them 'cute', by being amused at their facial characteristics, or by the fact that they snore – rather we need to understand that this is human intervention that is wholly detrimental to the welfare of the cats and is simply cruel.”

Read article: Flat Feline Faces: Is Brachycephaly Associated with Respiratory Abnormalities in the Domestic Cat (Felis catus)? by Mark J Farnworth , Ruoning Chen, Rowena M. A. Packer, Sarah M. A. Caney and Danièlle A. Gunn-Moore, published in PLoS ONE, online August 30, 2016, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161777

Article details

  • Date
  • 11 October 2016
  • Source
  • International Cat Care
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals