Pedigree breeds without suffering

Pedigree breeds without suffering

Scottish fold

The basic design of the domestic cat is fundamentally sound. As da Vinci said, ‘The smallest feline is a masterpiece.’ It’s a design that evolved through functionality – cats needed 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 (and neutered), have few health issues and live a long life. The non-pedigree cat the world over looks remarkably consistent in size and shape, all with hair, upright ears and a tail.

Of course humans like variety and something different, so we have created cat breeds, just as we have dog breeds, although cat breeds have not been developed for specific functions as dog breeds did originally.

The problems associated with flat faced pedigree dogs, such as the pug and French bulldog, have become more recognised and more publicised recently. The cat world has its own version of pugs and bulldogs – the Persian and Exotic breeds (an Exotic is basically a short-haired Persian with the same body conformation). The change in the shape of the skull results in obstruction of the system in which tears keep the eye lubricated and drain away through the tear ducts. The result is that the tears stream down the front of their face causing staining and skin problems. These cats often have excessive folds of skin on their faces which can lead to bacterial and or fungal disease and these folds can rub against the eye as well. Jaw shape can affect the cat’s ability to pick up food and teeth grow through at strange angles so they may not be able to eat properly and food may accumulate between the teeth. The facial conformation changes that result in problems in dogs are present in brachycephalic cats too, such as, pinched or narrow nostrils and nasal cavities, which result in noisy breathing, and breathing that may stop and start during sleep. Lastly the reduced skull size results in the brain being squashed and may result in neurological problems.

While there may be an argument that some brachycephalic cats do not have such short faces as others, there is no excuse not to condemn breeding of the Scottish Fold – osteochondrodysplasia (disorder of the development of bone and cartilage) not only results in the abnormal forward folding of the cat’s ears which give it that cute, baby face that people desire, but it also affects cartilage throughout the body, meaning that these cats develop painful arthritis for much, if not all of their lives.

The Manx cat we can all recognise is also prone to spina bifida and associated complications which may be irreparable or require surgical intervention.

At present there are fewer problems in cats than in dogs, but some which need urgent attention. Let’s work on these and also prevent any more from occurring.

International Cat Care

New All-Party Parliamentary Group puts cat welfare on the political agenda

New All-Party Parliamentary Group puts cat welfare on the political agenda

Cats are the topic of the day in Westminster following the launch of the first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) dedicated to improving feline welfare.

The first meeting of the new group took place at Westminster on Tuesday 6 March. The group is made up of MPs and Peers with the support of two of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities – Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

The APPG on Cats (APGOCATS) will discuss feline welfare and how to tackle key cat issues both in parliament and in society more widely. The group will be looking to propose solutions to a range of problems facing cats, such as toxins contained in antifreeze and laws on air guns, as well as highlighting the benefits of owning a cat to combat loneliness.

Maria Caulfield MP, (pictured above) who was elected Chair at the meeting, said: “As a cat owner myself, I’m very pleased to have been elected Chair of a group which recognises the important role cats play in many people’s lives, and which will work to better protect the needs of both cats and their owners.

“Cats are wonderful animals and provide much love, support and companionship to a wide range of people, from young families to elderly people living on their own.”

Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations Jacqui Cuff said: “Cats are one of the nation’s most popular pets, and their welfare is of huge importance to millions of owners. Yet despite their popularity, cats all too often suffer from a lack of specific legislation to protect them. Where legislation does exist, there are often enforcement and prosecution issues, which need to be addressed.

“Cats Protection’s ten-point Manifesto for Cats, launched ahead of the 2015 election, has received great cross-party support from politicians, yet there is still much to be done to ensure cats are protected. It’s entirely right cats are now going to have their own group in parliament to put a spotlight on feline welfare issues. We’re excited to work with this group as it strives to improve the lives of cats in the UK, something which will also be greatly welcomed by millions of animal lovers.”

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Michael Webb, said: “As one of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities, we’re ready to start work with politicians and other charities to raise the profile of issues affecting cats, who are loved in their millions across the country.

“We know from our work with MPs, including the Battersea’s annual Purr Minister competition, that there is a real passion for cats in Parliament. We therefore fully support the creation of APGOCATS which will be dedicated to tackling matters affecting feline welfare.”