Flat-faced cat breeds – such as the Persian cat and the exotic shorthair – have been bred to such an extent that they seriously suffer from several physical and hereditary conditions. Many animals have painful eye diseases, are cross-eyed, and are constantly struggling to breathe. Owners are often not well informed and are, therefore, unexpectedly confronted with expensive medical treatments. Veterinarians and animal welfare organizations are launching a campaign to warn consumers about the many health problems of short-snouted cats.
Vets see many overbred animals
It is prohibited in the Netherlands to breed animals with a muzzle that is too short. There are now clear breeding rules for short-muzzled dogs, but there are not yet for cats. There are still many cats bred and sold in the Netherlands with muzzles that are too short. Due to their unhealthy build, many of these deformed animals end up on the vet’s treatment table.
Janneke Moedt of Caring Vets: “As a cat veterinarian, I explain to owners that cats with nostrils that are too narrow do not snore like dogs. They are generally calmer and sleep more than other cats. Most Persian cats also have painful eye conditions due to their abnormally short skull with bulging eyes.”
High costs for short muzzles
A flat-faced cat can easily cost around 1,000 euros to purchase. Kelly Kessen, a veterinarian at Stichting Dier&Recht: “Usually an owner does not realize that such a cat often needs several surgeries. This concerns, for example, surgeries on teeth, treatments for eye conditions, and corrections of nasal folds. The costs can quickly add up to four times the purchase price. But the highest price is paid by the cat itself, which suffers for life from its unhealthy appearance.”
Dutch and European veterinarians work closely with national and international animal welfare organizations to improve the health of flat-faced animals in other countries. Karin Hoogendijk, veterinarian at the Dutch veterinary association KNMvD and FECAVA (European Federation for Veterinarians): “The poor health of flat-faced pets is a worldwide problem, which is why there are also English versions of our website and information packages. In this way, we help local organizations to draw attention to the subject in their own country.”
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