Jacqueline L. is a 41-year-old Berlin breeder who owns four Canadian Sphynx cats. A German court has ordered her to have one of them neutered because according to the country’s animal law, it would be animal cruelty to let her breed and sire whiskerless offspring.
Judge Christian Oestmann based his decision on the Animal Protection Act from 2013 which states:
(1) It shall be prohibited to breed vertebrates or to change them through procedures of biotechnology or genetic engineering if it must be expected that the offspring, due to hereditary factors, are lacking parts of the body or organs for species-specific use or they are unfit or deformed thereby causing pain, suffering or harm.
(3) The competent authority may order the sterilization of vertebrates if it must be expected that their offspring will show abnormalities or deformations as set out in paragraph 1.
What this means in this specific case is that since whiskers are species-specific features for cats, breeding whiskerless cats would constitute cruelty because it can cause them harm.
READ MORE: “DESIGNER DOGS” SEIZED FROM CALGARY BREEDER
Whiskers are a vital part of a cat’s mobility and sense of security— they send information about the surroundings directly to the cat’s sensory nerves. They are like a radar that enables them to make sense of their environment. They help them calculate whether they can fit into a tight space without seeing it and they can even respond to vibrations in the air. Without whiskers, cats can become disoriented and frightened.
During the hearing, the testimony of Thomas Göbel, an animal expert and veterinarian, was crucial because it caused unanimous voting among the five judges of the panel. He stated that the lack of a sensory organ — such as whiskers for cats— is harmful.
This case is not one of a cat born with a defect that is to be neutered. This is a breed that was genetically manipulated in order to have a specific characteristic. And this leads us to a bigger issue: breeding.
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Breeding for appearance can have negative effects on the health of animals. An article on Listverse outlining the terrifying facts about professional dog breeding says,
“While this might give the offspring a desired trait (at least in appearance), it also increases the chances of giving the offspring an easily avoidable genetic defect.”(1)
Animals are the ones that end up suffering so the owner can be proud to have a “rarity”.
Breeding is also a very lucrative business and in a way, a very irresponsible one considering the amount of animals in shelters that lose their chance of adoption. Millions of animals are euthanized every year around the world and breeding has a part in it.
The Canadian Sphynx cat has been bred since 1966 and it has become increasingly popular. The kittens can be sold in the range of 500 to 700 euros. The cat was even the winner of the 2013 Pedigree Cat Exhibition in Berlin, which means that his offspring could be sold for even more.
Jacqueline has announced that she plans to appeal the judge’s decision and the case can even reach the Federal Administrative Court. What do you think? Send us an email or comment on Facebook!