International Cat Care’s veterinary division, the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), is working with the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA), the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the Union of European Veterinary Practitioners (UEVP) to discourage the promotion of cat breeds with extreme conformation in advertising.
In recent years, veterinary professionals have seen an increase in the popularity of pedigree breeds with extreme body shapes and features, such as flat faces or folded ears. Though these features may seem endearing or striking to pet owners, many are unaware of the associated health and welfare issues that can result in lifelong suffering.
ISFM has created a letter in partnership with FECAVA, FVE and UEVP, which urges all companies that feature cats in their marketing materials to work collaboratively with veterinary professionals and pledge to avoid using such breeds in any advertisements.
Most severely affected are brachycephalic (flat-faced) cat breeds such as Persians, which suffer from difficulty breathing, skin and eye problems, as well as Scottish Folds, which develop painful arthritis from a young age due to cartilage abnormalities that are responsible for their folded ear shape.
Nearly 40% of veterinary professionals in the UK feel that exaggerated conformation in pedigree cats and dogs is the top welfare issue they would choose to resolve tomorrow if they could.1 However, the impact of using these breeds in advertising and their popularity with celebrities and on social media influencing potential owners to choose them as pets cannot be overstated, with significant increases observed in the population of Scottish Folds and other pedigree cats in recent years.2
Dr Nathalie Dowgray, Head of ISFM, said:
“Seeing a cute cat in an advertisement can often be a trigger for people to seek out acquiring a cat of that breed without understanding the welfare concerns associated with some pedigree breeds. A rise in demand can lead to an increase in breeding practices that result in severe conformational issues and poorer welfare in these breeds. We encourage people to download this letter to use when they see breeds of concern being used in advertising, as health is always more important than looks.”
A template letter to companies currently using cat breeds with extreme conformation is available to send to brands to encourage them to change their advertising standards here:
More information on health and welfare issues in pedigree cats can be found at:
ISFM will continue to work with our partners across the sector to raise awareness of the health and welfare issues faced by cats bred with extreme conformation. For more information regarding dogs and other species, click here.
- PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2023, Available from: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/pdsa-animal-wellbeing-report/paw-report-2023
- Cats Protection. Cats and Their Stats 2022, Available from: https://www.cats.org.uk/media/11908/cats-report-2022-uk.pdf