Tuesday 10 April 2012

Responsible Cat Breeding

The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (signed:1987) - "the Convention" - has a bit so say about the breeding of animals. I am sure very few people know about this convention let alone cat breeders. Yet all breeders anywhere in the world, particularly those countries where they like to breed to extremes, would do well to read it. I'll just summarize certain aspects of it on this page.

An international "convention" is no more than an agreement. There is no real enforcement as I understand it. There would be embarrassment if there were flagrant breaches of it. If North American countries were signatories to the Convention there would be embarrassment in some quarters.

If you want to sum up the Convention in respect of cat breeding it states that breeders should not breed to extreme where the cat's health and welfare is put at risk.

Article 5 refers to breeding:

Article 5 – Breeding
Any person who selects a pet animal for breeding shall be responsible for having regard to the anatomical, physiological and behavioural characteristics which are likely to put at risk the health and welfare of either the offspring or the female parent. 

Under Article 15 parties to the Convention agreed to meet routinely to refine the Convention.  It was agreed that cat and dog breeding associations should be encouraged to alter their breeding policies. Clearly they recognized that the cat and dog associations were not doing enough to ensure that their members breed for health and not just appearance.

They even set out some guidelines for change and provided examples of cats and dogs the breeding of which were unacceptable under the Convention.

They asked the cat associations to "set limits to the shortness of skull, particularly the nose, so that breathing difficulties and blockage of lachrymal ducts are avoided..." they are referring to the notorious contemporary, flat-faced Persian that is championed by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA). They also refer to the "abnormal positions of the teeth" of the Persian. Persian cat health problems.

The recommendations under the "Guidelines for the revision of breeding policies.." include (where the defect cannot be eliminated) discontinuing the breeding of dwarf cats, Scottish Fold, hairless cats (e.g. Sphynx) and the Manx. Dominant white cats (cats carrying the dominant white gene) should not breed as it results in a relatively high level of deafness.

These are examples. The underlying philosophy is common sense and well known and discussed. Breeders of any kind should not breed cats if the cats are anything other than as healthy as the healthiest random bred cats; nor when breeds are vulnerable to environmental conditions - hairless cats are just that.

It is interesting to note that the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have issued a resolution on "Breeding and Animal Welfare" that includes the belief that one function of veterinarians is to promote and safeguard animal health and welfare. That concept is completely alien to United States veterinarians who declaw cats and nearly all do. Sorry but it's true. There is a chasm of difference between Europe and the United States.

I'll finish there to avoid getting bogged down in detail. See also:
  1. Selective cat breeding
  2. Persian cats
  3. Persian cat breeding

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