Cute versus truth: the difference between rehoming and buying a flat-faced cat
The RSPCA has revealed that Persian cats are among the most commonly overlooked pets in rescue centres – potentially because of the often severe health issues they face.
Despite Persians being the most common pedigree breed found in RSPCA care, on average it takes 68 days to rehome a Persian cat compared with just 29 days for a domestic shorthair (or typical ‘moggy’ cat).
The RSPCA believes this could be due to the often severe health and welfare issues Persians suffer from as a result of the way they have been bred to have flatter noses and bigger eyes. The animal welfare charity has also highlighted there could be a stark difference in public awareness of these issues amongst people who adopt a rescue pet – versus those who might impulse buy a ‘flat-faced’ kitten, which – conversely – have been soaring in popularity.
Alice Potter, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “Unfortunately, this could be a case of cute versus truth – an online kitten ad is unlikely to tell potential cat owners about the possible issues they will suffer from whereas reputable rescue centres will inform potential adopters about their complex needs.
“Someone who impulse buys a kitten online because they thought their ‘flat-faced’ features are ‘cute’ is far less likely to be given information on the issues because the seller simply wants to make a profit with some kittens being sold for over £1,000 online, or they may not even know themselves.
“This means they are still increasingly popular pets and more are being bred to meet this demand – but the challenging reality of caring for them can mean they end up in rescue centres where they are sadly then often overlooked for adoption.”
Other flat-faced breeds such as British Shorthairs and Birmans take 46 and 40 days respectively to find their loving forever homes – comparing unfavourably to a domestic semi long-haired cat which takes much less than that at 27 days.
The shocking statistics are revealed as the charity recently launched the next stage of its Save Our Breath campaign which aims to raise awareness of the struggles these flat-faced cats experience.
Alice added: “While many face long waits in rescue centres, we know that the popularity of these cats with unsuspecting, impulse buyers is increasing. This is something we’re concerned about as often these ‘flat-faced’ cats suffer from brachycephaly which means they struggle to breathe, suffer from eye and dental issues, and have difficulty sleeping and grooming themselves.
“The latest rehoming figures reveal that it takes much longer to rehome these cats than your typical ‘moggy’ and one of the reasons for this could be the often severe health issues they struggle with and the information potential cat owners are armed with before rehoming versus buying.
“These cats require regular grooming as their coats can become easily matted, especially for those that struggle to groom themselves properly. They can sometimes need treatment to help with their weeping eyes and in very extreme cases, they may even need surgery to help them breathe. For some potential adopters this means they may require too much time, money and resources to care for them properly which is putting people off adopting them – but buyers taking them on directly from a breeder instead may be unaware of this commitment.
“We want to see breeders prioritise the health and welfare of the animals and not breed them for traits which sadly cause them to suffer, and mean they are often abandoned, given up, or overlooked by potential owners.”
Seven-year-old Molly (pictured above) has been in RSPCA care for 93 days. She was sadly given up by her owner who could no longer cope with caring for her. Her breathing is incredibly raspy and she has a history of repeated eye problems. The shape of her face also means she finds it difficult to eat at times. However, Molly is a sweet natured girl who is quietly affectionate and enjoys a forehead tickle.
She is currently looking for a home and will need owners who are experienced with either Persians or long-haired brachycephalic cats and especially coat care as she needs regular grooming – which she really enjoys. Molly would like the option to explore outside, and needs an owner willing to give her all the care she needs, and deserves. To rehome Molly contact RSPCA Gonsal Farm Animal Centre on GonsalFarm@rspca.org.uk or call 0300 123 0753.
The RSPCA is now urging the public to contact their MP to raise awareness of this issue and start critical conversations to help protect these breeds. For more information, or to contact your local MP, visit: https://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/saveourbreath