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Anatomical evaluation of brachycephalism in cats and rabbits

02 May 2024
9 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 4


Although progress has been made in the veterinary profession when treating brachycephalic canines, brachycephalic cats and rabbits are often overlooked in practice. There also appears to be less public awareness and limited peer-reviewed research or studies on this topic. Cats and rabbits are often presented in practice when they already have clinical signs of disease or illness, so veterinary professionals must work with brachycephalic owners to educate on breed-related illnesses and when treatment is needed. This article explores the impact of brachycephalic conformation on both brachycephalic cats and rabbits. Similar to brachycephalic canines, anatomical factors to consider include: respiratory system, obesity, dentition, dermatology, ocular health, neurological issues, temperature regulation and reproduction. Although there are some similarities to dogs, brachycephalic cats and rabbits tend to be affected by anatomical changes differently in some cases. Therefore, veterinary assessments and treatments should still be patient-, breed- and species-specific.

Research and awareness of brachycephalic canines has improved in recent years. However, the effects of brachycephalism on cats and rabbits are less commonly treated in veterinary practices and therefore often overlooked by owners. As a result International Cat Care (ICC), The Rabbit Welfare Association Fund (RWAF) and RSPCA came together in 2017 to highlight the health and welfare issues with breeding brachycephalic cats and rabbits. ICC state the following issues associated in dogs are also seen in Persian and exotic cat breeds: respiratory, dental, dermatological and dystocia. While the RWAF found a similarity between undershot jaws and poor dentition in Bulldogs and Pugs to brachycephalic rabbits. These concerns caused by extreme conformations have been flagged by the RSPCA urging ‘everyone concerned, from breeders to buyers, to do what they can to reduce the demand for such extremes’ (Kernot, 2017). This article will evaluate the anatomical effects of brachycephalism on cats and rabbits presented in practice.

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