A NATIONAL animal charity is warning people to be aware of the serious health problems flat-faced breeds of cats face.

The Blue Cross rehoming centre, based in Burford, recently took in a Persian cat, Mr Magoo, with sticky and swollen eyes and concerns over his breathing.

The 18-month old cat was in urgent need of surgery for a common condition which sees the eyelids and lashes grow inwards instead of outwards.

This causes irritation to the eye and can result in blindness if left untreated.

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The condition occurs because the tear ducts which would normally drain tears into the nose become so deformed due to the squashed facial shape that it is impossible for the tears to drain properly.

This results in constant tear staining and dampness around the eyes and nose, which can lead to these areas becoming infected and sore due to the constant moisture.

The charity said that due to their short, squashed faces and large eyes, breeds like Persians are predisposed to a number of conditions.

The facial shape also results in these breeds having narrowed airways, making it harder for them to breathe normally.

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As with flat-faced dogs such as French bulldogs and pugs, the trend for fashionable pedigree breeds of cats such as Persians has increased, fuelled by images across social media and celebrity ownership.

But the Blue Cross warns many people remain unaware of the lifelong welfare issues attached to these breeds of cats and dogs as a result of them being bred to look the way they do and the lifelong care they can need.

These conditions often have no cure, so can cause discomfort and pain to the pet throughout its life.

Mr Magoo will now require his eyes and face folds to be cleaned twice daily to prevent skin irritation and infections.

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Simon Yeats, animal welfare assistant at Blue Cross in Burford, said: “He’s such a friendly cat and loves to be near you and have a little fuss.

“He’s not a lap cat, but will happily snooze next to you.

“He’ll make a great companion for his new owner who we will ensure can give him the love and care he will need throughout his life.”

Mr Magoo is currently reserved so should be going to his new forever home soon.

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Caroline Reay, head of veterinary services at Blue Cross, said: “We’re starting to get the message out about the genetic welfare issues faced by brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs and cats but sadly many people still don’t fully realise the lifelong needs of these pets.

“People can continue to keep them as pets but really need to consider the special care they require.

“Many people still don’t know that the perceived cute wheezy noises made by these breeds of dogs and cats are actually the pet struggling to breathe due to their narrowed airways.

“As the weather gets warmer and we head into summer, the heat can only exacerbate the breathing issues of these breeds and lead to collapse in some pets, particularly dogs.

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“We’d urge anyone considering getting any of these breeds of dog or cats to really do their research and understand the care they will require throughout their lives.”

Blue Cross rehoming centres are currently closed to admissions during the lockdown, apart from to emergencies like Mr Magoo and pets coming in from animal hospitals.

The charity has however started to rehome some pets in their care using virtual visits through video calls with potential new owners who live nearby.