Cats, dogs and rabbits are affected by Brachycephaly, but not many people have heard of it. Three charities are working together to try and raise awareness of the disease. International Cat Care, the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund and the RSPCA want people to understand the risks involved with breeding cats and rabbits with overly flat faces. Cat breeds, such as Persians, that have short faces have serious health problems including:
- Breathing difficulties
- Dental issues
- Infections in skin folds
- Birthing problems
These same health issues are experienced with short faced breeds of rabbits and dogs. All of these problems are caused because owners are demanding a certain look. Claire Bessant, the chief executive of ICC said: “It is very depressing to see the life deliberately dealt to some breeds of cats because of a human desire to develop a certain look”. She went on to urge cat owners not to encourage the breeding of these cats by thinking they are cute or by finding their snoring to be amusing. Cat owners need to be speaking out against breeding to achieve the flat faced look as it is harmful to the welfare of cats and needs to be recognised as being cruel.
The ICC has put together a list of problems that are associated with certain types of breeds. They want to remind people not to deliberately breed cats for any specific characteristic or feature that will have a negative impact on their welfare.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards wants to remind breeders and buyers to do everything they can to remove the demand for such extremes. The head vet a RWAF Richard Saunders said: “We would like to see an end to selection for ‘cute’ faces and lop ears and to preferentially breed rabbits with a more wild type face shape, which is associated with far fewer genetically induced diseases.”