Wednesday 17 December 2008

Human Nature to Breed Extreme Looking Cats and Dogs

It is human nature to breed extreme looking cats and dogs. What do I mean? Well, the BBC has recently decided to stop showing the very popular Crufts Dog Show. This really is a big show here in the UK. The audience is very large and the BBC have taken a very brave and correct stance on this. And it isn't just me who agrees with the BBC. A poll run by the Los Angeles Times indicates that 65% of the readers agree with the BBC.

The Kennel Club supported overbreeding of dogs for decades and are now backtracking, having been forced to change their stance by supporting breeding for health and not simply appearance at the expense of health.

Their earlier position in supporting extreme breeding of certain dog breeds for so long indicates that it is human nature to breed extreme looking cats and dogs. It happens a lot more in the dog world than the cat world, it seems to me. But why does it happen at all? Breeders profess to care for their animals. They are tender towards their animals or so it seems. Yet some people breed animals that carry genetic diseases as a result of their breeding programs. In the cat fancy cat breeds such as the Ultra (flat faced) Persian and Modern (rat faced) Siamese are two examples of extreme breeding.

It is all about self-interest. All people operate on the basis of self-interest. We do what is best for us or what we think is best for us. That is why the world is so disjointed. Yet, sometimes doing what is best for the community is ultimately best for the individual. That is common sense. The problem is this. People are not prepared to wait for the longer term benefits that come our way when we do what is best for the community and in any event someone will buck the system, abuse the system and that forces people to act solely in self interest.

In the cat fancy working towards self interest only and not in the general interest of the cat fancy (on a long term basis) translates to breeding a cat that is more outstanding, that wins prizes. The judges at cat shows have awarded prizes to the most outstanding cats in terms of appearance. They have never asked for medical records or pronounced to those viewing that the cat has a wonderful character and is in fine health with no genetic diseases (note: a cat's character in terms of aggression is noted but finer points of character are not it seems). That is relatively uninteresting to the public. We can't see the character of the cat and we can't see the whether the cat is carrying defective genes. These are more subtle factors. These are long term issues.

People are more inclined to seek instant satisfaction when serving self-interest. It needs to be immediate. The more immediate the better as that serves self-interest better.

The cat associations (as the Kennel Club should have done many years ago) should focus more on long term benefits. This means supporting the underlying and less glamorous elements of cat breeding and the more difficult issues, namely genetic diseases, breeding for health and focusing on character. Could there be a character test at a cat show? Could the associations exclude any cat that didn't pass certain medical tests?

The associations should also be less anally retentive. I'm thinking more of the CFA here. They need to think wider and see the bigger issues. The issues about abandoned cats and destroyed cats. The associations are linked to these more fundamental issues. They are too insular. Yes, it is is human nature to breed extreme looking cats and dogs for the wrong reasons. Controlling this urge will bring big long term rewards.

Human Nature to Breed Extreme Looking Cats and Dogs to Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats

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