Inbred Cats: Everything You Need to Know

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Inbreeding is a term thrown around in canine circles a lot.

In a bid to give rise to dogs with desired and predictable physical qualities and behavior, some breeders practice inbreeding.

Turns out, the bug has bitten cat breeders as well. These days, inbred cats are everywhere.

The rules of inbreeding of cats are not as stringent as they are for dogs.

If you are looking to know about the topic of feline inbreeding, you are in luck. In this guide, we will tell you all you need to know about inbred cats.

What Is Inbreeding?

In simple terms, inbreeding is the practice of mating close relatives to get offspring. This can be mother and son, father and daughter, or brother and sister.

The idea behind inbreeding is fixing breed traits. It promotes and distinguishes the breed lines.

It also makes it possible to produce uniform and predictable kittens without any surprises.

Inbreeding increases the chance of passing certain alleles from the parent to the offspring.

People looking for specific traits in cats can easily achieve that through the practice.

Variation among littermates is also greatly reduced and creates offspring with a familiar look.

Inbred Cats’ Behaviors

While not all inbred cats have behavioral issues, it’s not an uncommon occurrence.

If inbreeding is done for many generations, it can tamper with the behavior of the offspring.

In dogs, for instance, the practice may cause the inbred canine to be aggressive.  He may play too roughly, attack people for no reason, and terrorize other pets around the home.

The same phenomenon can be seen in some cats as well. An inbred cat may display aggressive tendencies towards you or other cats.

He may not be open to petting, cuddling, and touching. When you try touching him, he may be very repulsive and aggressive. In short, feral behaviors may erupt.

Inbred cats may also have lower intelligence compared to their counterparts. This makes them simply undesirable and hard to house train.

Again, many cats who are victims of inbreeding turn out fine. They don’t show any behavioral issues unless those of their specific breeds.

However, only a handful, especially those that have been overly inbred, can have the aforementioned behavioral issues.

Inbred Cat Health Issues

The risk of a cat having an autosomal recessive disorder goes up with inbreeding.

The offspring don’t get a mated pair with successive genetic variation.

The combination of different genes is important to create a cat with a full range of behavioral and health issues.

By limiting the genetic pool used to create the offspring, you consequently limit the attributes of the offspring.

This results in harmful mutations and medical conditions. These include the following:

A. Immune Deficiencies

As mentioned earlier, inbreeding leads to a loss of genetic diversity. This means decreased diversity in the immune system’s genes.

When infectious agents attack the inbred cat, the immune system may not have enough alleles to tackle them.

This increases his odds of catching diseases and infections that can be fatal.

B. Congenital Abnormalities

An inbred cat also has a high tendency to be infertile. This mostly happens when inbreeding takes place for multiple generations.

You can tell inbreeding has gone too far when a female cat gives birth to unhealthy, small, or disfigured litters.

Increased infant mortality is also a sign. Deeply inbred males may also become infertile.

C. Physical Deformities

Genetic mutations can cause all manner of deformities such as stumpy tails, unusual facial features, short legs, crooked noses, abnormal eye symmetry, misaligned jaws, etc.

D. Medical Conditions

Inbred cats with certain physical characteristics are predisposed to specific medical conditions.

For instance, those with small legs and flat faces are at risk of suffering from kidney diseases, cancer, and joint problems.

Are Most Cats Inbred?

In order to achieve specific characteristics, most breeders practice line breeding.

Despite all the negative effects of the practice, many still carry it out.

Inbred cats fetch a better price in the market. Plus, it is a predictable way of breeding.

Responsible breeders carry out selective breeding which combines inbreeding with mating different cats.

This is a safer way of harnessing the benefits of inbreeding while still avoiding its negative effects.

Are White Cats Inbred?

White cats come about because of the presence of a rare gene that hides every other color. This is the precise reason these adorable kitties are very rare.

If cats are anything like tigers, getting a feline with a white coat can only happen via inbreeding for generations. So, yes, white cans can be inbred.

What Problems Does Inbreeding Cause in Cats?

Most inbred cats turn out well. Some of them actually have double strengths because of inbreeding.

The issue is those that are victims of inbreeding for generations. The limited genetic pool can pose problems.

Under normal circumstances, the offspring combines genes from two different parents.

However, with inbreeding, the genes are practically drawn from the same pool.

There’s a very high chance that the offspring might end up with two identical genes. This redundancy is what causes physical and behavioral issues in cats.

Is It Normal For Cats To Inbreed?

In their natural habitat, cats practice inbreeding.

Sometimes, feral colonies would be isolated for long periods. This is either because the cats are in a remote location or because of neutered mates in the region.

The secluded cats had no option but to mate with each other resulting in inbred cats.

Inbreeding is what actually gave rise to domestic breeds like the Manx.

The breed was developed on an Island by breeders who were looking for the tailless gene.

For some reason, the gene spread from the Manx to other cats in the region.

Do Inbred Cats Live Long?

Unfortunately, many inbred cats have shorter life spans.

They are at a higher risk for fatal medical conditions including cancer and heart disease both of which are quite dangerous. Few cats can survive them.

Inbred cats also have weak immune systems which mean that they can catch any health condition.

They also find it hard to adapt to different environmental conditions.

All these factors contribute to their short life spans.

With that said, there are many inbred cats that enjoy long, healthy lives. The issue is the number of generations of inbreeding.

The smaller the number, the higher the chances of a long lifespan, and the higher the number, the lower the chances of a long lifespan.

What Are The Signs Of An Inbred Cat?

If you are not familiar with inbreeding, you might have a hard time telling if a cat is inbred or not.

Essentially, the common signs include the following:

  • Developmental Problems: These can be poor growth later in life and generally a life that’s below standard.
  • Decline in Birth Weight: Inbred kittens tend to be thin, small, and lethargic.
  • Physical Deformities: Physical signs such as a crooked nose, uneven eye symmetry, and misaligned jaws signify excessive inbreeding.
  • Illness: Although not all medical conditions are linked to line breeding, there are those that are. If the cat is sick all the time, you might want to have him checked by the vet to ascertain whether he’s inbred or not. The most common medical conditions to look out for include heart disease, cancer, and kidney disease.

Should I worry about a kitten that is the result of inbreeding?

While the inbreeding of cats can cause a host of issues, it can also be harmless. Most of the damage brought about by incest doesn’t occur in the first generation.

However, its negative effects only catch up after multiple generations. There are plenty of inbred cats with zero issues.

Just make sure that the kitten isn’t a result of excessive inbreeding.

Parting Thoughts

That’s it with the ins and outs of inbred cats.

Inbreeding may have some advantages like giving specific traits and keeping a pure bloodline but it can also very be problematic.

If done for many generations, it can cause a long list of issues for the inbred cat.