Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bobtail Cats - Disorder or In order?

All the photographs illustrating this article are by Helmi Flick and are copyright Helmi Flick

Five Bobtail (bobbed tail, bob tail, bobtailed) cats come to mind, the Manx, the Kurilian Bobtail, the American Bobtail, Pixie-Bob and the Japanese Bobtail.

The Book, "The Veterinarians' Guide to Your Cat's Symptoms", says this, "defects and/or disorders. Manx - Anury. An absence of one to all tail vertebrae and a short or absent tail.

It is thought that a similar gene mutated for all these cats. It would seem logical if it was as the disorder is the same or very similar in each case.Breeders of the Kurilian say it is a different gene and that the cat is healthy.

The Manx can suffer from more than just a short tail. There is the possibility of shortening of the spine that cat prove fatal. Could breeding practice all but eliminates this apparently. This is an example of what I call secondary conditions accompanying the primary "visual effect" (short or no tail) of the mutated gene

The absence of a tail is a disorder due in each case to a genetic mutation that occurred spontaneously and naturally . In the case of the Manx and the Kurilian it is thought that the cats evolved in isolation from the rest of the world on an island or islands until discovered. For the Manx it was the Isle of Man (of the English coast) and for the Kurilian it was the Kuril Islands in between Japan and Russia in the Pacific Ocean.

The interesting thing is that we have converted a "disorder" into a desirable "product" (this word was used by an executive of the Allerca Cat) that is "In order" (meaning acceptable). But I am not sure that this is the case.

Breeders are nearly always very concerned people with a love of cats and their welfare. They therefore do all they can to eliminate health issues. I am very much with the cat breeder as it is a natural thing for humans to breed cats and be involved with other animals. We cannot deny ourselves what comes naturally to us. We must though exercise control. I am sure some breeders ask themselves the question I am asking here.

There are other breeds where a genetic mutation has produced an interesting looking cat, which it would do, as genetic mutations are rare and rare objects are interesting and desirable (dwarf cats as an example).

If any breeders or cat experts read this please make a comment. Should we breed from a cat with a so called disorder?

Personally, I would rather see cat breeding of cats that do not have defects and are more inherently healthy such as the Siberian and Norwegian Forest cats. But all pure-breed cats are potentially going to be less healthy than Moggies because of the potential for inbreeding or breeding from limited gene pool. All this said I am a fan of the look of the Bobtails.

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