Charities unite to highlight brachy health issues in cats and rabbits; it's not just dogs we need to worry about
International Cat Care (iCatCare), the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) and the RSPCA have come together to raise awareness that breeding cats and rabbits with exaggerated flat faces can cause health and welfare problems, as in dogs.
Short-faced cats like Persians can have all the same issues as dogs - breathing and dental problems, skin fold infections and problems giving birth to name a few.
Claire Bessant, chief executive of iCatCare, said:
"International Cat Care takes an ethical view of all cat breeds and our website (http://icatcare.org/advice/cat-breeds) outlines the problems that exist for some breeds, including very flat-faced cats in the Persians and Exotic breeds. Our stance is that we should never deliberately breed cats for any feature or characteristic that impairs their welfare."
Sadly, rabbits have also fallen foul of the human desire for shorter, 'cuter' faces. Richard Saunders, head vet at RWAF, 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."
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards said:
"The RSPCA believes there is still much to be done to protect the future health of dogs and that all those who breed dogs should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed. For help when choosing a dog, please use the RSPCA/AWF Puppy Contract and if you're worried about the health of a particular puppy, contact a vet for advice.
"We are very concerned that these issues are now being seen in other species and would urge everyone concerned, from breeders to buyers, to do what they can to reduce the demand for such extremes."
Emma Milne, vet and long-time brachy campaigner, is a patron of RWAF and an ambassador for iCatCare. She said:
Photographs of short-faced breeds superimposed onto 'normal animals' are shocking across every species. Please see http://bit.ly/brachypets .
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Comparison of short-faced, flat-faced or brachycephalic rabbit with normal rabbit
Comparison of short-faced, flat-faced or brachycephalic cat with normal cat
Comparison of short-faced, flat-faced or brachycephalic dog with normal dog
Emma Milne, vet, long-time brachy campaigner, patron of RWAF, ambassador for iCatCare