Monday 19 May 2008

Cat Inbreeding

This is a follow up to an earlier post on cat inbreeding. We noted that cat breeders practice inbreeding at least sometimes, perhaps a considerable amount of the time to breed in the best appearance and I hope the best character. The downside is that you also breed in the defects associated with recessive genes that would otherwise go unnoticed. What happens in the wild?

Inbreeding is rare in the wild. Wild animals avoid inbreeding in a common sense way by dispersal. Moving away from the population from where they were born. In scientific terms it is called "natal dispersion". This means travelling to a place away from where the animal was born to a new place to reproduce. The change being on a permanent basis.

It seems that the reasons for dispersal are (a) inbreeding avoidance (b) competition for resources- looking for a less competitive environment and (c) competition for mates. (src)

We don't have to look far for the benefits of inbreeding avoidance. For humans marriage to close relatives (in the West at least and most countries) is forbidden and often illegal. We agree as humans that we shouldn't inbreed. In fact inbreeding avoidance is practiced naturally by humans. In terms of sexual attraction we tend to avoid people carrying similar haplotype (a genetic system). Tests (albeit controversial) indicate that we can smell the difference in the genetic system so body odor plays a significant role in choosing a partner. I guessed we knew that but didn't know that is was associated with identifying the genetic makeup of the person and avoiding inbreeding.

Cat Inbreeding to Abyssinian cats

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