The Animal Doctor

Extreme Breeding in Cats

DEAR READERS: I expressed public concern 40 years ago that some breeders of cats would start to selectively breed certain varieties whose physical structure and genetics would mean a life of suffering and costly veterinary treatments, as had already happened with many breeds of dogs selected for extreme traits.

The babylike, and for some, comical, appearance of brachycephalic (flat-faced or “Peke face”) Persian and exotic shorthair cats are of especial concern. This extreme facial deformity is associated with many health and welfare problems, including: tear staining and eye problems; respiratory difficulties and associated inactivity; misalignment of the jaws, with dental and oral problems; deformation of the skull, leading to difficulties giving birth; and later development of hydrocephalus, reduced brain space and herniation of the brain into the base of the skull with serious and painful neurological consequences. The Scottish fold cat with deformed ears often has severe osteoarthritis.

So cat fanciers, please wake up and be more caring and responsible. And prospective cat owners, adopt only from your local shelter. Don’t support such inhumanity by purchasing a purebred cat with such extreme abnormalities, no matter how appealing they may seem to you.

DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 13-year-old Aussie mix that started developing lipomas about five years ago.

Since then, a few more have appeared, but at least two have grown significantly over the years. One on her right hip is now as big as a grapefruit; so much so, it looks like she’s lost fur there. The other one of concern is just inside her right leg, possibly close to her chest.

I’ve read contradictory info on treatment -- from shrinking them with diet to mandatory surgery. Until last year, our vet said no action was needed, but is now concerned about the one near her chest.

I am concerned about putting her under at her age but don’t want to risk her health. -- B.H., St. Louis, Missouri

DEAR B.H.: There is no special diet or magic pill to shrink these fatty tumors. At least they are not malignant, even though new ones will continue to develop.

The best ways to prevent lipomas in the future may well be a low starch/low carbohydrate diet for mother dogs (from conception through pregnancy) and for pups after weaning, along with regular physical activity. Full body massage, as per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs,” may also help.

As for your dog’s current treatment options: There is always some risk with general anesthesia, which will be needed for surgical removal of your dog’s lipomas. I appreciate that your attending veterinarian took a conservative approach and did not operate a year ago, and now he or she is the best person to decide if the risk is justified. These kinds of tumors can become ulcerated, painful and interfere with a dog’s ability to move easily and enjoy some quality of life.

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at

More like The Animal Doctor