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Animal Welfare Studies

Garden of the Cats works to support animal welfare studies. These include medical studies to promote feline health and appropriate breeding practices to maintain a healthy pedigreed breed. Support includes providing cats for the study, resources, and financial payments.

Dwarf Cat Orthopedic Study

Garden of the Cats is supportive of the Dwarf Cat Orthopedic Study, begun on March 2024 and to run the course of the following years. The purpose of the study is to see if cats with achondroplasia are prone to early onset arthritis or other orthopedic problems. The study focuses on pedigree cat breeds, such as Minuets, Munchkins, etc. and non-pedigreed dwarf cats. Use of the tall version of these breeds will act as the control group of the study.

Feline knowledge of the dwarf breeds of cats is severely lacking, and unfortunately, prevailing opinions on the health of these cats comes from information extrapolated from dwarf dog breeds. As such, dwarf cats are automatically ascribed as suffering from the same kind of orthopedic problems that dwarf dogs do (bulging and ruptured discs along the spinal cord (Intervertebral Disc Disease) and early onset arthritis. However, what is disregarded in such declarations is that the gene that causes achondroplasia in dogs is not the same as that which causes achondroplasia in cats. Nor is a cat’s anatomy similar to a dog’s anatomy. Therefor, Dr. Leslie Lyons of the University of Missouri teamed up with Catherine Rudy, the Minuet Breed Group Chairperson with The International Cat Association, and Dr. Gabriela Baers of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in conducting a study on dwarf cats. This study requires taking numerous radiographs of sample cats, collecting data and pedigrees on each cat, and compiling results to determine if dwarf cats are prone to any orthopedic problems related to their achondroplasia. Since the gene for achondroplasia in cats is a lethal dominant gene, there are normal sized cats born within the same litters, and these cats will act as the control by representing a “normal sized cat.”

A secondary, yet no less paramount, aim in the study is to determine an appropriate leg length for dwarf cats in the event concerning health issues are noted. It is agreed on by all responsible breeders that “rug-hugger” cats are created by ruthless designer breeders for the novelty of the shortened leg and they are not the goal of the dwarf breeds. Responsible breeding promotes the creation of healthy and mobile cats that live long and active lives. The study will determine if any orthopedic problems exist as a result of the shortened legs of dwarf cats, and if so, at what leg length do these problems appear. This will help breeders focus on building on the proper structure of these dwarf breeds.

Special Thanks

A special thank you goes out to Dr. Brittany Shumack of Village Center Veterinary Clinic (Colorado Springs, CO) for performing the radiographs of several sample cats admitted to the study. She is committed to the study and continues to make time for appointments, opinions, and explanations.