The Daily Mail recently published an article on ‘the world’s ugliest cats’ which are ‘impossibly cute’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4700660/Ugly-cats-captured-HILARIOUS-online-gallery.html).
Some of these cats are strange-looking because they are flat-faced, also known as ‘brachycephalic’. The squashed faces of these cats might look amusing at first. However, once we realise that these cats can struggle to breathe, eat, and face painful skin and eye problems, we realise that their suffering is no laughing matter.
Articles such as this one are part of the problem. These cats are promoted in the mainstream media, and so their appearance is normalised, even lauded as ‘cute’, which helps to fuel their popularity. However, these breeds should not be seen as acceptable, cute or desirable, but instead as animals that are predisposed to a lifetime of poor health and welfare.
International Cat Care is committed to spreading the message that many cats are condemned to a lifetime of suffering because of continued support for flat-faced breeds, such as most modern Persians and Exotic Shorthairs. We are joined in our campaign by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) in raising awareness of the health problems associated with brachycephaly. See https://icatcare.org/press-media/charities-highlight-brachy-health-issues for more information on this campaign.
More information about the health and welfare issues faced by brachycephalic cats can be found here: https://icatcare.org/news/mounting-evidence-prove-flat-faced-cat-breeds-are-suffering
Finally, the article also makes light of another serious health problem in cats: obesity. ‘One rather overweight feline’, the article reads, ‘was photographed lolling over its own rotund stomach, its head slumped to the side.’ Being overweight or obese predisposes animals to a range of very unpleasant diseases and health conditions; diabetes, heart disease and arthritis to name but a few. There is also evidence that being overweight or obese decreases quality of life and leads to an early death in cats and dogs.
Therefore, as with flat-faced breeds, overweight or obese animals should not be portrayed as socially acceptable in the media, nor as something to laugh at. By ensuring that companion animals are a healthy weight, we are helping our pets to lead longer and happier lives. For more information on obesity in cats, visit our website: https://icatcare.org/advice/obesity-cats.