Vet Reveals Dog and Cat Breeds Whose Cute Looks Actually Make Them Suffer

A veterinarian is going viral on TikTok for her video series about pets that are considered cute but suffer from serious health problems because they have been bred to look a certain way.

British veterinary surgeon Cat Henstridge, who posts online as Cat the Vet, has made six clips about "pets that people think are cute but are not!"

Henstridge, who also runs a blog, uses the videos to highlight the health impacts on the dogs and cats.

"It is really important to realize that many of our best-loved pets suffer because of the way we have bred them to look," Henstridge told Newsweek.

"That doesn't mean we can't continue to adore them, but it does mean we have to stop accepting their features as 'normal' and make efforts to breed them differently so they can still be unique but also live their lives to the full, just as they deserve."

1. Scottish fold cats

In the first video, Henstridge turned her attention to the Scottish fold cat, which has "folded" ears.

"Aren't they adorable?" the vet said. "Do you know why they fold? Because they've got weak, rubbish cartilage in them, which makes them collapse under their own weight."

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Pets That People Think Are Cute But Are Not! The Scottish Fold Cat. #catthevet #scottishfold #catsoftiktok #vettok #fyp

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"And do you know what horrible, weak cartilage gives you? Arthritis. An incredibly painful, debilitating joint condition that we are basically breeding deliberately into these cats, just because we think their little ears look cute."

The vet added that although she thought the cats looked adorable, this was not a good enough excuse for breeding cats that "basically" spend most of their lives "totally crippled" and sometimes end up being euthanized "really really early" because they can't walk.

"If you see these cats being used by brands for advertising or touted by celebrities as the 'latest thing to have,' please let them know this is not cute. This is cruel."

A Scottish Fold kitten
A Scottish fold kitten. iStock

2. Flat-faced dog breeds

The vet's second video looked at flat-faced dogs, including popular breeds such as pugs and bulldogs.

"These dogs have amazing personalities and make wonderful pets, but we have to talk about how they suffer for the way they look," Henstridge said in the clip.

"Many of these dogs struggle to breathe normally, starting with nostrils that are often just tiny little slits, and their faces may be flat on the outside but on the inside they often have nearly as much tissue as a dog with a normal-length nose, and that can really compromise their airways."

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Flat faced dogs really suffer for their looks and we have to talk about it. And this only covers a few of their issues! #catthevet #pugs

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Henstridge said these breeds often suffered numerous other health problems. These include skin complaints, painful dental decay because they have a normal number of teeth crammed into a tiny space, and spinal abnormalities that can lead to difficulties walking.

Even their "cute" bulging eyes can be painful, she added.

In her latest video, Henstridge looked specifically at toad bulldogs, saying: "I genuinely cannot fathom why anyone would choose to breed a dog that is so clearly going to suffer for the way it looks, for its entire life."

A pug dog
Stock image showing a pug, a type of flat-faced dog. iStock

3. Pekingese dogs

In the third video, the vet talked about Pekingese dogs, which have been bred for centuries in China.

"The Pekingese suffers because of the way that they look. First of all, look at how flat that skull is, which means they suffer from all of the problems that the brachycephalic breeds [dogs with short snouts] do, like eye, breathing, skin fold problems.

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"When you compare their skeleton to a normal dog you can see why they suffer with such a lot of mobility issues as well."

But the thing that concerns the vet the most about this breed is how vulnerable they are to overheating because of their "huge" coat.

A Pekingese dog
Stock image showing a Pekingese dog. iStock

4. Flat-faced cat breeds

The next video looked at flat-faced cat breeds.

"Their tiny nostrils inevitably make it really hard for them to breathe. You can really see how narrow and pinched they are, and how squashed their faces are when you compare them to a lovely normal pussycat," the vet said.

"It comes as no surprise that they suffer from loads of dental problems because there is no space for their teeth!"

In addition, Henstridge said the skulls of these cats were misshapen and flat, which could lead to serious health problems and be fatal in some instances.

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Pets That People Think Are Cute But Are Not! Part 4! #catthevet #cutebutnot #persiancats #flatfacedcat

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"Those flat faces means that their tears can't drain properly, which can leave them with really sticky, dirty, painful infected skin on their face," she said. "And those great big eyes that are so prized? They're actually really vulnerable to problems because they stick out so far.

"The final insult is their super-fluffy thick coat so they cannot hope to groom themselves."

A Persian cat.
Stock image showing a Persian cat. iStock

5. Munchkin cats

Munchkin cats are bred to have very short legs.

"These are cats that have a genetic mutation that makes their legs really short," Henstridge said. "I get why people like them, they look adorable. But that doesn't change the fact that we are deliberately breeding cats with a really debilitating genetic mutation, just because we think they look cute.

"Think about how active our cats naturally are, how much they love to run and jump and play. Munchkin cats still have those instincts, but they can't do it as much or as well because we have deliberately restricted them."

In the video, the vet showed X-ray images that demonstrate just how deformed the limbs and joints of these cats are.

"Look at the bones of the legs, look how straight and smooth the normal cat's one is, compared to how short and twisted the munchkin cat's ones are," she said. "Look at how smooth and clean the elbow joint is in the normal cat compared to how horrible and gnarly the one in the munchkin cat is."

"This means they are not only physically restricted in how much they can move, but this joint would be really painful as well."

Update 10/28/21, 6:45 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments to Newsweek from Cat Henstridge.