Monday 16 March 2009

Inbreeding Makes Pedigree Cats Diseased

A leading newspaper in the UK states that inbreeding makes pedigree cats diseased and deformed. In a post about the breeding of dogs, I mentioned the problem of inbreeding by purebred dog breeders and how that had effected the health of some dog breeds. In that post I wondered whether that well publicized story in the press in the UK would take a hold of the cat fancy and the same issues be discussed in relation to purebred cats. Well, I think it may be beginning to happen and if I am correct I think this could be a real problem for the cat fancy in the UK and eventually in the USA.

This is because there is, I think, a slowly growing realisation that the good days of rapid expansion of the cat breeds in the 1960s and 80s are over and there would seem to be a bit of a backlash exacerbated by the growing feral cat problem.

This is the post about the inbreeding of pedigree dogs and health: Purebred Pedigree Cat Breeding.

In a Daily Mail article in the UK, the author extends, not unexpectedly, the argument about dog inbreeding to purebred cats. He says that inbreeding makes purebred cats diseased and deformed. It was only matter of time for this to happen. The specific points that are made are these:
  • people are generally unaware of the problem. Comment: I don't believe that there is a big problem but some breeds are affected and I agree that the public are unaware of the problems or potential problems
  • the author alleges that cats bred for certain physical characteristics are more prone to cancer, joint disease and kidney problems. Comment: This is a very wild allegation and I believe incorrect. There are genetic diseases associated with certain cat breeds but I have never seen these associated with cancers generally, for example. Perhaps the author is referring to Persians and Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease.
  • the Daily Mail infers that the GCCF (the premier cat association in the UK) is concerned enough to look at the problem. Comment: I have not read this but I would not be surprised if they are as a result of the problems with dogs and the Kennel Club's change in breed standards, which some dog breeders are resisting.
  • the PDSA (the UK's leading veterinary charity) concurs and says that the breeders need to do more to screen their cats and breed out genetic faults. Comment: This needs to be done, no doubt. It is hard for breeders to think collectively. They tend to pull in different directions and think as individuals which leads to a lack of coordination and a coordinated approach is vital to eradicate inherited diseases in a breed.
  • the Persian cat breed is singled our for its flat face as a source of health problems (Persian cat health problems). Comment: I have been battling for the CFA in America to change their breed standard for the Persian for ages. It is ludicrous for cat breeders to be wiping away tear stains at competitions. Everyone knows about Persian health problems (and please note we talking about the extreme Persian - see Persian cat breeding). The traditional Persian does not suffer from tear duct overflow but it does have the same PKD issues. The male Persian is singled out too for testicles that remain in the body causing cancer. I have never read about this until today.
  • other breeds criticised are the Scottish Fold (for cartilage problems) and the dwarf cats particularly the Munckin, the founding dwarf cat for joint problems. The Burmese and Sphynx are also crticised. They say the Siamese is prone to develop a type of lung cancer. Comment: Dwarf cats are however generally healthy. The Burmese can have facial problems and the Sphynx needs to stay in being hairless but I know of no genetic defects associated with the Sphynx.
They make the point that I have made (maybe they got the idea from this website) that breeders have or tend to overbreed for extreme appearance to win competitions. This, it is claimed, is the fault of the show judges but it is probably a combination of judges, breeders and the cat associations who run the shows and govern the breed standards.

There should be change. There is no doubt about it but the Mail has possibly exaggerated the problem. Each of the cat breeds discussed on the main website covers health issues.

Inbreeding Makes Pedigree Cats Diseased to Cat Health Problems

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