Race to save flat-faced cat who can't eat and breathe at same time: 'This has to stop'

Dimples' face is so flat that eating and cleaning himself are a struggle. But life-saving surgery could give him a better life.

An Aussie pet breeder’s horror blunder resulted in a male cat being bred with a face so flat he can’t breathe and eat at the same time. Dimples’ treating vet described his chronic breathing complications as "distressing" and some of the worst she’s seen, adding his face “looks like it’s been cut off”.

While Dimples’ situation is extreme, Dr Patricia Carnovale said breathing problems are common among flat faced dog and cat breeds. “We need to educate people. Just because things look pretty or they look cute, having them appear that way may not necessarily be in the animals best interest,” she told Yahoo News.

Dimples has pinched nostrils and a tongue that hangs out because it’s too large for his tiny mouth. He needs regular assistance as he is unable to groom himself properly, and he prefers to lick the gravy from his food rather than pick up pieces of meat because of the effort required to do so.

Two images showing the flat-faced Persian ginger cat, Dimples.
Dimples' tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth and he struggles to breathe. Source: Mini Kitty Commune

Sadly, the full extent of the eight-year-old cat's problems were only realised after he was surrendered to volunteers at Mini Kitty Commune. His rescuers are now working to raise $3,500 so a specialist can complete surgery to help him breathe again.

Why can't Dimples breathe properly?

His condition, brachycephalic obstructive airway disease, occurs due to the genetic modification of the skull when breeding cats like Persians. Consequences of this include the narrowing of the nostrils and elongated soft palate and larynx abnormalities which result in restricted airflow into the body.

A distressing video supplied to Yahoo reveals the consequences of Dimples’ ordeal – his breathing sounds like air being slowly released from inside a balloon. Mini Kitty Commune’s founder Derek Knox described his situation as “appalling and inhumane”.

“The poor thing’s been bred so badly that it’s like he’s suffocating all day, every day... Honestly, I don’t even know what to say. This has to stop,” he said.

How do we prevent animals being bred with flat faces?

Carnovale believes the answer to the wider issue is for new genetics to be introduced into problem breeds and for breed standards to be changed, so their faces are elongated.

“Veterinarians worldwide are trying to encourage people not to breed these cats. We are quite frustrated. We really don't want to have to be doing surgeries on something that is preventable,” she said.

If you’d like to donate to help with Dimples’ treatment you can do so here.

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