Blue Cross is warning people to be aware of the lifelong serious health problems flat-faced breeds of cats can face after taking in a Persian in urgent need of eye surgery.

The cat, named Mr Magoo, was taken in as an emergency case by our rehoming centre in Burford, Oxfordshire, with sticky and swollen eyes and concerns over his breathing.

Due to their short, squashed flat-face and large eyes, breeds like Persians are predisposed to a number of conditions including eye disorders and infections and skin conditions.

The facial shape also results in these breeds having narrowed airways, making it harder for them to breathe normally.

Mr Magoo recovering from his operation
Mr Magoo recovering from his operation.

As with flat-faced dogs such as French bulldogs and pugs, the trend for ‘fashionable’ pedigree breeds of cats such as Persians has increased, fuelled by images across social media and celebrity ownership.

But Blue Cross warns many people remain unaware of the lifelong welfare issues attached to these breeds of cats and dogs as a result of them being bred to look the way they do and the constant care they can need.

These conditions often have no cure, so can cause discomfort and pain to the pet throughout its life.

Mr Magoo, 18 months old, needed surgery for a common condition which sees the eyelids and lashes grow inwards instead of outwards, due to the squashed-in face shape. This causes irritation to the eye and can result in blindness if left untreated.

Mr Magoo asleep in his foster home

He also requires his eyes and face folds to be cleaned twice daily to prevent skin irritation and infections caused by deformed tear ducts that are unable to drain properly.

Simon Yeats, Animal Welfare Assistant at Blue Cross, who fostered Mr Magoo in his home during the lockdown, said: “He’s such a friendly cat and loves to be near you and have a little fuss. He’s not a lapcat, but will happily snooze next to you."

Mr Magoo has now been rehomed and is doing well under the loving care of his new owner.

Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross, said: “We’re starting to get the message out about the genetic welfare issues faced by brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs and cats but sadly many people still don’t fully realise the lifelong needs of these pets.

“People can continue to keep them as pets but really need to consider the special care they require as its lack of knowledge of these issues that results in them needing veterinary treatment, rather than neglect.

Mr Magoo is now in a happy new home

“Many people still don’t know that the perceived ‘cute’ wheezy noises made by these breeds of dogs and cats is actually the pet struggling to breathe due to their narrowed airways, resulting from how they have been bred to look the way they do.

“As the weather gets warmer, the heat can only exacerbate the breathing issues of these breeds and lead to collapse in some pets, particularly dogs.

“Long and complicated surgery is possible to widen the airways to help ease these issues in some cases, but not a complete cure.

“As with Mr Magoo, surgery is also possible to help other conditions but regardless of this many will continue to face a level of discomfort or health issues, such as eye and skin infections and some degree of breathing difficulty, throughout their lives due to their facial structure.

“We’d urge anyone considering getting any of these breeds of dog or cats to really do their research and understand the care they will require throughout their lives.”

— Page last updated 24/07/2020