Thursday 3 November 2022

Ben the Vet promotes the humble moggy

Ben the Vet likes to tell the world through social media (TikTok) the breeds of dog that he would not adopt and the 4 cat breeds that he would avoid. He has now moved onto the next logical step which is to tell the world the kind of cat that he would adopt, and I am pleased to announce that he prefers moggies to any other type of cat. Every cat caregiver concerned about cat health would agree with Ben.

Tabby cat
My cat. A humble tabby non-purebred. Image: MikeB

And the reason is that random bred cats are, just that, random bred. There is no selective breeding. There is no artificial selection. Random bred cats are created through natural selection or as natural as it can get in an artificial human environment!

And therefore, they are healthier than purebred cats due to genetic diversity which leads to the inevitable conclusion that they live longer on average. I say 'on average for the obvious reason that sometimes, individual purebred cats can have long life spans.

He mentions four cat breeds that he would not adopt but he could have mentioned more. He has selected these breeds because they have inherited genetic health problems. You can read about them by clicking on this link.

And the same goes for the dog breeds. The point is that Ben is concerned about selective breeding which perpetuates the introduction of recessive genetic mutations into cats and dogs.

I realise that it is unpopular to discuss this topic. There are many die hard pedigree cat and dog afficionados who refuse to see the health aspects of the breeds. I understand their opinion, but it is essentially wrong. 

Breeders select foundation cats and dogs that are very handsome, and which are in line with the breed standard. They don't tend to select cats and dogs from which to breed which are inherently healthy. They don't prioritise health when they should be doing this.

Breeders should be prioritising health first, personality second and appearance third. But they prioritise these three elements in the reverse order because they have to stick to the breed standard and that document demands inbred animals often with extreme features.

Ben is a celebrity veterinarian who has a big presence on the social media site TikTok. His full name is Ben Simpson-Vernon. He gets lots of hate online because of his attempts to promote health in companion animals.

He says that: "I would just get a domestic shorthair, otherwise known as a moggy-just your regular, standard, garden variety cat. They're the cat equivalent of a mutt, or a mongrel, so on average they are going to be less inbred than your average pedigreed cat. And they're just lovely."

The problem with humankind in respect of cat and dog companions and selecting one is that people are obsessed with appearance. People like to possess beautiful objects. And when it comes to companion animals, they tend to be more interested in the appearance of the animal than their character. This feeds into selective breeding by breeders for appearance.

In my view, it is a human weakness to be obsessed by appearance and there is a moral duty (I'm preaching - sorry) to create purebred cat companions that are as healthy as possible. This does not happen.

The cat associations do not help because they write breed standards which leads to unhealthy cats e.g., the contemporary Persian with the flat face which distorts the anatomy.

There are other breeds which are bred to extreme which in turn affects their health. And there are many breeds based upon genetic mutations resulting in an abnormal but interesting appearance. These mutations have an impact upon the anatomy of the cat which is detrimental to their health and I'm referring in this instance to the well-known Scottish Fold. There are other breeds.

I am pleased that Ben is promoting the humble moggy. That is the way it should be.

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