National pet charity Blue Cross is urging people to read up on the health issues flat-faced cat breeds – such as Persians and Himalayans – before investing in a trendy animal.
Persian cat Mr Magoo is a prime example of how seriously a cat’s flat-faced characteristics can cause them harm.
The 18-month-old cat was taken in as an emergency admit by the Blue Cross’s rehoming centre in Burford, Oxfordshire, with sticky and swollen eyes and concerns over his breathing.
It turned out he needed surgery for a condition that’s common among flat-faced cat breeds, that sees the eyelids and lashes grow inwards instead of outwards.
This issue can cause pain and irritation to the eye and can result in blindness if left untreated.
The condition occurs because the tear ducts which would normally drain tears into the nose have become so deformed due to the squashed facial shape that it is impossible for the tears to drain properly. This results in constant tear staining and dampness around the eyes and nose, which can lead to these areas becoming infected and sore due to the constant moisture.
Cat gets chin strokes after recovering from eye surgery
While surgery helped to treat Mr Magoo’s pain, the issues associated with his breed won’t end there.
The cat also struggles to breathe due to his narrow airways, and he needs his eyes and face folds to be cleaned twice a day to prevent skin irritation and infections that can happen as a result of poor drainage of his tears.
So if you were thinking of adopting a cat because they’re a more low-maintenance pet, a flat-faced breed really isn’t a wise choice.
Mr Magoo is currently living in a foster home and will be up for adoption once he’s ready to find his forever family.
Simon Yeats, Animal Welfare Assistant at Blue Cross, who is looking after Mr Magoo in his home, says: ‘He’s such a friendly cat and loves to be near you and have a little fuss.
‘He’s not a lapcat, but will happily snooze next to you.
‘He’ll make a great companion for someone who can give him the love and care he needs and ideally would go to a home with someone who is around a lot of the day and where he is the only pet, but they’ll have to be aware of the special care he will need throughout his life.’
Blue Cross wants Mr Magoo’s troubles to serve as an example of why it’s so crucial to carefully research cat breeds and the health issues they can face before having your heart set on a certain type of cat just for the aesthetics.
While a Persian cat’s squished up face might look cute from a distance, the health issues can be challenging.
Due to their short, squashed flat face and large eyes, breeds like Persians are predisposed to a number of conditions, including eye disorders and infections and skin conditions.
The facial shape also results in these breeds having narrowed airways, making it harder for them to breathe normally and resulting in the wheezing sound.
As with flat-faced dogs such as French bulldogs and pugs, the trend for ‘fashionable’ pedigree breeds of cats such as Persians has increased, fuelled by images across social media and celebrity ownership.
But Blue Cross warns many people remain unaware of the lifelong welfare issues attached to these breeds of cats and dogs as a result of them being bred to look the way they do and the lifelong care they can need.
These conditions often have no cure, so can cause discomfort and pain to the pet throughout its life.
Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross, said: ‘We’re starting to get the message out about the genetic welfare issues faced by brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs and cats but sadly many people still don’t fully realise the lifelong needs of these pets.
‘People can continue to keep them as pets but really need to consider the special care they require as its lack of knowledge of these issues that results in them needing veterinary treatment, rather than neglect.
‘Many people still don’t know that the perceived ‘cute’ wheezy noises made by these breeds of dogs and cats as you can hear with Mr Magoo are actually the pet struggling to breathe due to their narrowed airways, resulting from how they have been bred to look the way they do.
‘As the weather gets warmer and we head into summer, the heat can only exacerbate the breathing issues of these breeds and lead to collapse in some pets, particularly dogs.
‘Long and complicated surgery is possible to widen the airways to help ease these issues in some cases, but not a complete cure.
‘As with Mr Magoo, surgery is also possible to help other conditions but regardless of this many will continue to face a level of discomfort or health issues, such as eye and skin infections and some degree of breathing difficulty, throughout their lives due to their facial structure.
‘We’d urge anyone considering getting any of these breeds of dog or cats to really do their research and understand the care they will require throughout their lives.’