Pet Birth Defect Awareness Day was established in 2014 by David Rogers, founder of MBJungle Foundation. His website says the day's purpose is "to inform about pet birth defects and the importance of prevention, treatment, proper care, and methods of identification."
Rogers discusses genetics's role in both pet birth defects and pet mental health issues and how humans influence those factors. At first, he found little information to explain these issues, so Rogers decided to do his own research. As a result, he learned that birth defects, including mental illness in pets, can have various causes, but overbreeding or inbreeding play significant roles. Therefore, according to Rogers," some defects can be avoided through responsible pet ownership."
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, cats have the lowest frequency of congenital defects among domestic animals. Scientists refer to these as abnormalities present at birth. Writers at KnowYourDNA note that "research has shown pedigreed cats have a higher risk of developing a defect," but that one breed isn't affected more than others.
As the Merck manual explains, the most common congenital, inherited (genetic), or environmental defects that affect cats specifically include, "lack of development of the cerebellum (a part of the brain critical for controlling balance), eye and eyelid defects, heart defects, cleft palate, failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum (known as cryptorchidism), more toes than normal (polydactyly), and diaphragmatic and umbilical hernias."
KnowYourDNA lists causes of environmental defects that include exposure to toxins and certain chemicals, exposure to cortisone and other medications, and excessive intake by mamma cat of vitamins A and D during her pregnancy.
One of our family's furry companions is an 11-year-old black Labrador whom we adopted at age one and named Lulu. She has only a partial lower jaw due to a birth defect. While we were concerned about her ability to thrive early on, she found a way to eat - and eat and eat! Today, she is healthy and happy. But many dogs and cats born with birth defects aren't as lucky as our Lulu. Sadly, many animals are put down as soon as they are born, and a defect is identified.
So, let's apply logic here: if too much breeding creates more chances for birth defects, then more focus should be placed on spaying and neutering pets so there will be fewer births in the first place. And, if more currently unwanted pets are adopted from humane societies and rescues, the demand for more pets, leading to overbreeding found with puppy and kitty mills and backyard breeders, could be reduced. And that could potentially end most congenital, genetic, and environmental defects in all animals.
Quote to remember: "Both people and pets need somebody who makes them look forward to the sunshine." - Unknown.
Merck Veterinary Manual
Merck Veterinary Manual
"Congenital and Inherited Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems of Cats"
"Cat Birth Defects"