How to choose a healthy pedigree cat. Pete the Vet podcast from Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

To listen to this week’s podcast, click on the play button at the foot of this page.

Pedigree cats

Most people choose cross bred “moggies” when they want a kitten
(we have two such kittens looking for homes at our clinic in Bray right now, and they will make lovely pets for someone)
However, for various reasons, people sometimes choose a pedigree cat.
As it happens, I am one of those people: we bought a pedigree cat – a Maine Coon (as pictured above) – just a few weeks ago
We bought one because in recent years we have had two moggies who turned out to have feral genes, and one has become a scaredy cat, happy to be at a distance from humans at all times, while the other is a grumpy cat, growling and scratching when she gets fed up with people. We wanted a lovey-dovey, people-adoring cat. Many moggies are like that anyway, but the surest way to predict a cat’s personality is to know the personality of both parent cats, and to ensure that the kitten is really well socialised with humans between the age of 2 and 14 weeks. A pedigree kitten is more likely to tick those boxes than a cross bred.
That said, you need to choose your pedigree cat carefully: our Maine Coon Kitten is from a good breeder who had had genetic tests done on both parent cats, as well as having their hearts checked by ultrasound scan to ensure that they were not affected by a type of heart disease which is more common in the Maine Coon breed.

What can go wrong with pedigree cats?
A global charity, International Cat Care, is urging cat-lovers to avoid choosing pedigree breeds of cat designed to have extreme or unusual features, such as flat faces or folded ears. This is because of problems associated with these features which may not be immediately obvious, but cause suffering for the cats.

Figures released today, to mark International Cat Day 2018, show that on average, 28% of the flat-faced (brachycephalic) cats vets see in their practices have had or would benefit from having treatment for conformation-related health or welfare problems (problems caused by body size, shape and appearance). Vets also said that only a quarter of brachycephalic cat owners were already aware of the potential health issues and just one in twenty were aware of the additional costs associated with the breeds before choosing their pet.

When asked last year most companion animal vets surveyed (86%) had treated conformation-related health problems in brachycephalic cats, such as Persians and Exotic Shorthairs. The most common conformation-related treatments carried out by these vets were for:
• Eye problems (69%)
• Breathing/respiratory problems (60%)
• Dental issues (45%) and
• Skin problems (32%).

The Scottish Fold, thought of as ‘cute’ because of its folded down ears which give it a round, baby-like face, suffers from joint pain because the gene which affects the cartilage to allow the ears to fold forward, also affects cartilage in the joints causing problems such as arthritis in these cats, even from an early age.
Everyone knows that the internet loves cat photos and videos. But as time passes there’s a growing appetite for novelty with quirky and unusual cat breeds proving increasingly popular on social media.
Currently the Irish population of pure breed cats is very small as most cat owners opt for regular non-pedigree ‘moggies’.
However, there is a concern that the popularity on the internet of breeds with extreme conformation, such as the very flat-faced Persians and Exotic Shorthairs, or gene abnormalities such as cause the ears to bend forward in the Scottish Fold breed, may prompt increased demand among consumers who are unaware of the potential serious health and welfare issues associated with such breeding.

The message is that people should not choose pets without understanding either the possible welfare implications of their extreme features or the potential cost of treating them.

  • If you are considering getting a cat discuss your plans with a vet who can advise you on how to get a healthy pet that is well-suited to your lifestyle.
  • Avoid getting cats with extreme or unusual features and choose a healthier breed or a non-pedigree cat instead.
  • Go to a cat show to see pedigree cats for yourself before buying one – there is a big one in Dublin every October, and there are regional ones around Ireland too
  • International Cat Care is a charity dedicated to improving the health and welfare of cats worldwide.
  • The International Cat Care vision is a world where all cats, owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion and understanding.
    The International Cat Care mission is to engage, educate and empower people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.
    International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) is the veterinary division of International Cat Care: ISFM aims to provide a worldwide resource for veterinarians on feline medicine and surgery.

Questions from listeners about pets

The following questions came in from listeners

  • My cat has a discharge from her eyes and nose
  • My older Border Terrier’s personality has changed. Why would this be?
  • I have two male kittens who are piddling in the house. Would neutering help?
  • Is it OK to sedate a dog for grooming without an owner’s permission?
  • My Staffordshire Bull Terrier has breathing difficulties when she gets excited. Should I be worried?
  • What is the standard life span of a goldfish?

To listen to Pete’s answers, click on the play button below

Listen to the podcast:

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