Battersea warns of health risks for flat-faced cats

There has been a lot of publicity over the health concerns associated with flat-faced dogs - such as breathing and heart problems - but did you know it's also an issue that concerns cats?

Many cats, like their canine counterparts, are needlessly suffering because they have been bred to look a certain way, according to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

The animal welfare charity raised the issue after six flat-faced cats arrived at its London rescue centre in the same week, with all but the youngest two, a pair of three-week-old kittens, requiring medical treatment for breed-related health issues.

Persian, Exotic Shorthair and Scottish Fold are examples of breeds with exaggerated features such as huge eyes, tiny noses and lush manes of fur.

Celebrities like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are among the fans of such cats, regularly posting photos of their pets to millions of followers. Meanwhile, internet star Grumpy Cat, the most recognisable cat in the world thanks to her exaggerated facial features, had 2.7 million followers before she passed away earlier this year.

But although they may look appealing, to owners and to their followers on social media, such cats can suffer life-long health problems.

"At Battersea we treat our animals for a wide variety of health issues, a number of which are specifically related to how these animals have been bred to look," said the charity's head vet, Shaun Opperman. "In an apparent quest to make them look increasingly photogenic or fashionable, these cats can sadly spend their whole lives suffering with a range of health problems ranging from matted fur and eye infections to difficulty breathing and degenerative diseases."

Dedicated campaigning by animal welfare and veterinary organisations has successfully raised public awareness about the health crisis facing flat-faced dogs, and Battersea says that more must now be done to make cats part of the conversation.

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