Sunday 27 June 2021

Brachycephalic Persian cat with bulging eyes can have corneal problems

In this article I want to point out the bulging eyes of the Exotic Shorthair and the Persian, two associated breeds because the former is a shorthaired version of the latter. In this picture we can see the "punch-face" appearance of the Persian. It almost looks as if this cat has suffered a catastrophic injury to the face as it's been flattened. And this, to my mind, leaves the eyeballs bulging outwards beyond the protection of the bones of the face. This leaves the cornea exposed because there is a reduced ability to close the eyelids.

Brachycephalic Persian cat with bulging eyes and flat face
 Brachycephalic Persian cat with bulging eyes and flat face. Photo: Irina Gerasimova.

And of course, the cornea is exposed anyway as it sticks out so far. This contributes to 'exposure keratitis' and it is said probably contributes to corneal sequestrum development (the development of an opaque, dark brown to black plaque on the cornea). Persian cats are predisposed to this.

Exposure keratitis also occurs in people and it is described as a medical condition affecting the cornea of eyes which can lead to corneal ulceration and permanent loss of vision due to corneal opacity. Normally the cornea is kept moist by blinking and during sleep it is covered by the eyelids. When the cornea is exposed to the air, it can cause increased evaporation of tear from the corneal surface leading to dryness of the corneal surface. This can lead to corneal epithelial damage based on my research on Wikipedia.

I'm not saying that this particular, individual in the photograph is going to have problems with their cornea. I wouldn't say that. I'm just commenting generally about this desire to create flat-faced brachycephalic Persian and Exotic Shorthair cats with these bulging eyes

I think the bulging eye problem is particularly noticeable with the Exotic Shorthair cats. I've seen a lot of this and I think it is an unfortunate side effect of this extreme selective breeding. I don't think the breeders want this but it goes with the territory of the flat-face as does other health problems which you read about by clicking on this link.

I think you will find that the majority of the public would like to see the breed standards of the Persian and Exotic Shorthair 'detuned' by which I mean made less extreme so that the breeders follow guidance which doesn't drive them to creating unhealthy cats which arguably look less attractive than the traditional Persian. I think you will find that the vast majority of the public prefer the appearance of the traditional Persian over the contemporary variant. So, there's no need to breed cats like this in the first place.

Perhaps the problem is that the cat fancy is too inward-looking. Perhaps they should conduct a poll with the public and ask them what they think. They may have been encouraged to breed cats like this because the Persian has been very popular for many years but they have gradually drifted into this extreme look without, I believe, touching base with the public on the issue as to whether this was a wise thing to do. It has taken the cat fancy around 60 years to create this strange appearance.

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