SCOTLAND – Pedigree cats bred to have flat faces are much more likely to suffer from breathing difficulties, according to a study.
The research, which was led by the University of Edinburgh, found flat-faced cat breeds were more likely to have breathing problems after exercise and while asleep.
Researchers claim owners of breeds with flat faces – such as the Persian and Exotic – should be aware of the risks and seek veterinary care if they suspect their pet is in difficulty.
The study – which has been published in the journal PLOS One – saw hundreds of owners submitting photographs of their cats so researchers could measure the faces of the animals.
Owners were asked to complete a very detailed health survey about their pets, including questions about lifestyle and breathing patterns.
Impaired breathing is a usual condition called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), which can lead to health problems throughout an animal’s life.
The difficulties are well-reported in dogs but breathing problems in flat-faced cats have not yet been fully investigated.
Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, states: “This study demonstrates the need to further understand the genetic basis of brachycephalia in cats.
“Owners worried about their cat’s breathing should consult a vet immediately.”