Charity Blames Celebrities for Dangerous Flat-Faced Cat Trend

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London is warning that the celebrity trend of flat-faced cats is causing a rise in the number of cat breeds with significant medical issues.

These cats — with their big, expressive eyes and sweet, small noses — are the epitome of cute. But that cuteness comes at a painful price.

The breeds with the most celebrity status are Persians, exotic shorthairs and Scottish folds — all of which are bred specifically to have exaggerated features. Scottish folds are gaining particular attention due to the likes of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, who regularly publicize their pampered pets on Instagram.

Moreover, the hashtags “flat face” and “flat face cat” have over 435,000 and 75,000 Instagram followers, respectively, causing charities like Battersea to worry the trend will only continue to get worse.

So what are the health issues for these cats? According to Battersea, flat-faced cats may have lifelong conjunctivitis and weeping eyes. Excessive skin folds around the eyes can lead to dermatitis if not monitored, and in some cases they can cause eye infections. Plus, because many of these cats have long fur that’s liable to mat, they need regular grooming. And perhaps most concerning of all is the potential for respiratory problems — with many of these cat breeds requiring nasal surgery, so they can breathe normally.

“At Battersea we treat our animals for a wide variety of health issues, a number of which are specifically related to how these animals have been bred to look,” Battersea’s head vet Shaun Opperman said in the news release. “In an apparent quest to make them look increasingly photogenic or fashionable, these cats can sadly spend their whole lives suffering with a range of health problems ranging from matted fur and eye infections to difficulty breathing and degenerative diseases.”

Battersea has good reason to worry. The number of these cats being abandoned when their medical conditions get too difficult to deal with is on the rise. In 2017, the charity received just four Persians, according to The Telegraph. In 2018, it received five. And in the first three months of 2019, it has taken in 10 Persians.

The RSPCA describes these trends as the “Lassie effect,” in which a certain breed or animal becomes popular through media or the internet. When “Finding Nemo” was released, for example, the demand for clownfish saw an international surge. Today, more than 1 million are removed from the wild annually, and in some areas they have become extinct.

The fear with these flat-faced cats is not the threat of extinction but irresponsible breeders producing felines with more extreme and unhealthy features to monetize them.

That is not to say these designer cats aren’t loved by their owners. Wilfred Warrior, the internet’s current favorite cat celebrity, is in the hands of owner Jenna Millward, who knows enough about the Chinchilla Persian breed to maintain his health. In addition, owner Lora says Lucky Superstar was the unwanted runt of the litter and that she saved her from being abandoned. Lucky sees a respiratory specialist and is constantly monitored for her health.

Battersea urges would-be owners of these popular flat-faced cats to consider adoption over buying a kitten, and it reminds people to be mindful of the cat’s lifelong needs. Opperman gave the following advice: “If you do have your heart set on buying a cat, do your research first and ensure that you make a decision based on your lifestyle and an individual cat’s needs, rather than what might get the most likes on Instagram.”

There is no getting away from it: These cats are cute. Who hasn’t looked at a meme of Grumpy Cat and not come away with a smile? Yet there are millions of cats out there without a home who have a real reason to be grumpy. The ASPCA estimates that 6.5 million animals enter shelters across the U.S. every year, with 3.2 million of those being cats. So if all this talk of celebrity cats is making you consider a new feline addition to your family, why not think about adopting from a shelter?

Adopt don’t shop, and bring your very own celebrity home!

Photo credit: Dan Wayman

61 comments

Beverly D
Beverly D4 days ago

So very sad how selfish people are not considering anything but what they want. Thanks, and comments, God bless~

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R9 days ago

thank you

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Julia R
Julia R10 days ago

Why don't people just adopt and avoid breeders! We have enough poor animals who are are already sacrificed (losing their lives every day). Do we need to have more, now?!

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Daniel N
Daniel N13 days ago

Thank you

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Lesa D
Lesa D15 days ago

thank you Kelly...

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Emily J
Emily J25 days ago

I hate breeders who intentionally cause cats or dogs to have uncomfortable, sometimes life-limiting health problems in the name of "fashion" or "breed standard". I blame pet shows such as Crufts, where living beings are awarded prizes for their looks no matter how much pain and discomfort it causes the pet, along with stupid celebrity trends they should all be banned.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN habout a month ago

tyfs

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Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.

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Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvinabout a month ago

stop buying designer pets! adopt one in need!

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Terri S
Terri Sabout a month ago

We can't say it enough - Adopt, adopt, adopt!!! Also, SPAY/NEUTER your pets!!!!!!

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