Brussels’ Animal Welfare Council has decided that certain cat breeds will no longer be allowed in the Belgian capital. The ban will include Scottish Fold and Highland cats, as well as specific hybrid breeds.
Two hybrid breeds, in particular, have been targeted: Bengal and Savannah cats. The Animal Welfare Council has determined them to be breeds that present particular problems of behavior, reproduction and genetics.
“The first generations of these hybrid breeds do not exhibit a behaviour adapted to life in captivity, which can generate many difficulties,” explained Bianca Debaets, the Secretary of State for Animal Welfare. “In addition, they present the problem of a lack of fertility and their gestation period is not the same as that of domestic cats. Also, during mating, the risk of them becoming extremely aggressive is very high.”
The second decision concerns Fold cats, including the Scottish and Highland breeds, who are famous for having peculiarly short ears that are folded forward.
“This congenital malformation causes significant pain and chronic arthritis,” said Ms Debaets. “To avoid this suffering, we have decided to ban the breeding, marketing and possession of these cats, in order to achieve their gradual extinction.”
At least one established veterinarian in Brussels, however, has contested the Council’s decision. “This is a minority problem compared to other issues relevant to animal welfare,” explained veterinarian Yvan Beck. “During my career I dealt with very few cats of these breeds, and those that I did deal with did not have any of these ‘bad’ characteristics.”
“It is true that Savannah cats are very independent, but I have never seen them exhibit any serious behavioural problems. And as for the Scottish Fold cats, there are almost none of them anymore anyway. Moreover, what are the owners of these cats supposed to do when the ban comes into force? Euthanize them? It’s absurd. I will never agree to euthanising any cat that is in good health.”