Are dwarf cats healthy?

This is a perennial discussion. It resurfaces all the time. The health of dwarf cats is a hot topic. It is the reason why the cat associations have not registered the dwarf cats. They are associated with potential if not actual ill-health. And after all, this is unsurprising because dwarf cats "suffer" from dwarfism. This is a serious anatomical deficiency brought about by a genetic mutation (sometimes other causes). They suffer from osteochondrodysplasia. This affects the development of the bones in the limbs so that they have short limbs but normal-sized bodies. It also affects the cartilage as far as I'm aware.

Lillieput, a Munchkin 10 years-of-age. Picture in the public domain.
Lillieput, a Munchkin 10 years-of-age. Picture in the public domain.

The two known conditions that they can suffer from as part of the dwarfism is lordosis and pectus excavatum. The veterinarian and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carole Margolis, said that they have spinal malformations, lordosis and scoliosis and they can be born with ribbed abnormalities. Quite a bundle of health issues.

Interestingly, the respected book Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, fourth edition, describes the effects of dwarfism as a cosmetic issue. In other words, it is not serious and they just look cute. In effect they are stating that dwarfism makes the cats look attractive to the general public without health consequences but this is an incorrect assessment in my view.

I'm not going to decry dwarf cats of which there are 13 different breeds by the way because they are popular in the eyes of many people. However, adopters should realise that they do not inherently enjoy genuinely good healthy. I don't think these conditions that I have described are a great problem to the cats but they might be sometimes. It's just that you can't describe dwarf cats as healthy as a consequence.

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The most famous dwarf cat ever to exist was Grumpy Cat. She died at the age of seven by the way and her facial expression arguably was because of her dwarfism. That's another area where Robinson's appears to have got it wrong because they say that dwarfism does not affect the anatomy of the face. But it appears to have created the downward facing mouth of Grumpy Cat. Wrong? Please tell me.

It is said, by the way, that Grumpy Cat died of a urinary tract infection. So, for the record her dwarfism was not involved but I doubt the record to be perfectly honest. We would not get the full reason for her early death from her owner as she was a controversial cat. 

In respect of kids with dwarfism, the experts say that "each condition that causes dwarfism has its own possible medical complications". In other words, certain conditions other than a genetic mutation causes dwarfism and these conditions could have associated health problems.

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