Saturday 3 May 2014

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: It’s rare to find a cat with a normal tail

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it is rare to find a cat with a normal tail, so says a French veterinarian who runs one of the largest veterinary clinics in Phnom Penh.  His name is Arnaud Demarti.

This veterinarian believes that the cats of Phnom Penh and perhaps Cambodia generally deserve to be a new breed of cat.  There might be a breed of cat but they're just not registered with a cat Association.

This veterinarian believes that Cambodian cats are likely to carry the same gene is the cats in Thailand.  He believes that the reason why about 80% of the cats in Phnom Penh, Cambodia have short or crooked tales is because of a recessive gene.
Photo by Julie Masis - Tour Guide carries tailless Cambodian cat
Tailless cats are also common in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.  The first Siamese cats that were imported into England from Siam, now Thailand, came from a population of Siamese cats that had a kink in the tail.  The kinked tale of the Siamese cat is well-known but it was selectively bred out by Siamese cat breeders in the West.

The secretary of the Japanese Bobtail Breeders Society in the USA believes that the short tailed cats in Southeast Asia were most likely Japanese bobtails.  The history of the Japanese Bobtail goes back well over 1000 years.

Sometimes you will see Siamese cats with a short tail in Asia.  As to exactly what is going on genetically, it is not yet completely clear despite what has been stated above.  Thus far no one has analysed the DNA or the x-rays of the short tailed Cambodian cat.  It may be that the gene that shortens the cat's tail is related to the Manx cat.

Clearly more research needs to be done but in the meantime it is worth while mentioning that the domestic cat in Cambodia is becoming more popular.  Up until fairly recently about 95% of all visits to Arnaud Demarti's  surgery were dog owners but now 30% of consultations are for cats.  More Cambodians are keeping cats as pets and are taking them to their local vet for checkups.  Good news!

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