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The Snow Cats - White Forest Cats - are they deaf?

by Jette Eva Madsen.

The white Forest Cats have been around for 10 years now and no other color has caused so many discussions about the nature of the color, if the cats suffer, if the cats are albinos, etc. During the last two years the interest for white Forest Cats have arisen proportionally to the scarcity of kittens born in this particular color.

The changing of the FIFe rules for the breeding of white cats. After FIFe made it a lot more difficult to breed white cats with their request for hearing certificate a few years ago a lot of breeders banned breeding of white cats. In certain countries the effect came down more heavily and in some countries nearly all white cats of certain breeds were taking out of breeding. The reasons for this were several. For one thing it became difficult to sell the white cats as breeders and show quality since they became more expensive due to the extra veterinary bills caused by the hearing certificate. When you see no white cats at the show bench it also becomes more difficult to sell them as pet kittens because the potential buyers do not know of that specific color. When it is difficult to sell the kittens a lot of breeders are forced to stop because it is not possible for them to heavily subsidies the breeding of white cats.

Today's situation

This has lead to a scarcity of white kittens in a lot of breeds and among them in the Norwegian Forest Cat. And what happens then. Breeders tend to wish for the rare cats. When white cats get rare and the price goes up because of the scarcity a lot of breeders wish to start out in order to breed the white cats. Therefore at the moment we have a lot of newcomers in the art of breeding white cats and with them the number of questions and wrong beliefs about the white cats are also on the rise again. Every day I get e-mails from all over the world asking me details on the breeding of white cats.

The statistics

I would like to be able to answer all these questions and I am able to shed light on some of them. It is however necessary to understand that most answers on white cats have to be based on statistic material and although I have been breeding the white cats for 10 years now, the number of kittens I have had is far from sufficient to get any statistical information. From time to time there have been some attempts to collect this kind of statistical material about the white cats but in vein. A lot of breeders are not honest about the record of hearing of their white cats, a lot of breeders are not sure weather their cats hear or not, and some breeders are not at all aware that there is a problem. Apart from that cat breeders tend to be very private people when it comes down to passing on information about the breeding and genetics of their own cats so it is very difficult to collect the necessary statistic material.

Frequently asked questions

There are many more questions and details concerning the life with a deaf cat that I could pass on to you. These were the most frequently asked questions. The rest will have to wait for a later 'JetteWeb'.

The danger

Because the white cats are now so rare breeders try to find ways in which they can use all the hearing white cats as breeding cats. This has leaded some breeders to use cats that have other faults that the cat clubs do not require test for. As an example some white cats with tail faults, heart faults, etc. will now be used for breeding because they are pretty and hearing. Breeders are optimistic and hope for the best. They hope that the offspring will be white, that they will not inherit the "other defect" of the parent and that they will be hearing. This is however a dangerous way to go with the breeding since there is a great chance that we in this way will introduce some traits much more harmful for the cats than deafness. It is however not surprising since the same reaction is also seen in the breeding of other animals than cats. As an example one can mention that the obligatory test for hip-dysplasia in certain breeds of dogs at some stage has led breeders to use dogs with other problems for breeding. Problems that made the dogs rejected as breeding dogs before the hip-dysplasia test was made obligatory.

Then why don't we claim test for more things like heart fault, tail fault, etc.? It is not possible to test for everything. Every time we make a new test obligatory some breeders will find a whole in the "law" exactly the same way some people try not to pay their taxes. Breeding of pet animals is mostly a matter of using ones common sense so the best we can hope for is well-educated breeders with excellently developed common sense.

The future

I was caught by the majestic and pretty Snow Cat the first time I saw one. In my life there will always be at least one white cat and I will always enjoy the 3 months old white kittens that are prettiest kittens I have ever seen. I hope that there will be many more breeders that feel like I do so that we will in the future have a large healthy stock of white cats of all breeds.