RSPCA: Fears new film Argylle could drive demand for Scottish fold cats - despite serious health issues

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
New film Argylle stars a cute Scottish fold cat, a breed the charity says has serious health issues

The number of pedigree cats coming into RSPCA rescue centres has soared over the last few years, the charity has revealed, as it fears an upcoming film could drive demand for yet another 'designer' breed.

New figures show Persians are now the most common pedigree cat in RSPCA care, with the charity seeing a 92% increase in its shelters since 2018. The second most common is the Ragdoll, with a 61% increase in these cats arriving at RSPCA animal centres, while there has been a 22% increase in Bengal cats and a whopping 300% increase in Maine Coons over the last six years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The animal welfare charity believes the popularity of striking breeds like Sphynxes, Persians, and Scottish folds on social media, TV, and in advertising is driving more Britons to adopt them - with some breeders unfortunately prioritising looks over health and welfare.

These latest figures come as new spy action comedy Argylle is due to be released this month, which stars a Scottish Fold cat - seen in the movie trailer being carried around in a bubble backpack. Last week, leading animal welfare charities - including the RSPCA - wrote to the film studio to urge them not to glamourise these kinds of cats in future, due to the health issues they suffer from.

The cast of Argylle at its world premiere, which also stars a Scottish fold cat called Chip (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)The cast of Argylle at its world premiere, which also stars a Scottish fold cat called Chip (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)
The cast of Argylle at its world premiere, which also stars a Scottish fold cat called Chip (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Universal Pictures) | Getty Images for Universal Pictu

RSPCA cat welfare expert Alice Potter said: “Over the last few years we have seen an increase in certain cat breeds coming into our care as a result of ‘designer’ breeds becoming more popular with owners. Sadly, many of these cat breeds have exaggerated physical features, some of which have become so extreme that they can cause pain and suffering.

"Some can make cats prone to particular disorders, and some prevent them from behaving normally," she continued. “Persian cats are bred to have ‘flat-faces’ which often causes them to have brachycephaly - which means they struggle to breathe, sleep and even give birth."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Scottish fold cats, the breed featured in the new film, have a genetic disorder that causes them severe and painful lameness, Ms Potter said. This was because the cartilage abnormality responsible for their distinctive folded ears also affected their joints, meaning they can develop painful arthritis even from a young age.

“Although we have only had seven Scottish fold cats come into our care since 2018, we fear that this film may glamourise these cats and could be the latest breed to experience a boom in their popularity, without people realising the sometimes severe issues these cats can face," she said.

The Scottish Government has put in place guidance for breeders of Scottish fold cats, and other cats who have been bred with exaggerated features, to ensure the health and welfare of the cat is not being compromised. The RSPCA wants to see similar guidance issued in England and Wales too.

“We strongly believe that all those who breed cats should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring," Ms Potter added. “We know owners want their pets to be happy and healthy, and people may not realise that cats bred with exaggerated features can struggle with extremely serious health problems."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The charity wanted to see breeders doing more to ensure they are producing kittens who are happy and healthy, she said, and she urged people wanting to add a cat to their family to consider rescue cats in need of a loving home.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.