Animal charities have raised concerns over a new Hollywood film “glamourising” a cat breed associated with serious health issues.
Argylle, an action movie starring Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa, came out in cinemas last week and the main character, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, carries her pet Scottish Fold cat around in a backpack.
Charities including Blue Cross, Battersea and the RSPCA have written to Universal Pictures to consider the potential impact the film could have on cat welfare.
There are concerns it could make the breed more popular, when the reality is they hav.
Adrian Ferne, manager of Cats Protection’s Bredhurst Adoption Centre, said: “The impact of using this breed in a Hollywood film cannot be overstated.
“All Scottish Fold cats suffer from variable degrees of painful degenerative joint disease and the underlying genetic defect has far-reaching and severe consequences for their health.
“They go on to develop painful arthritis and it develops it so reliably that it’s being used as a model to study the gene involved in human arthritis.
“They’re already very popular on social media and with celebrities so we really worry that this film will cause this to surge even more.”
The breed takes up around 1% of the UK’s population, equating to 110,000 cats.
The charity has also raised concerns over the films “unrealistic” portrayal of the cat, as it travels in a backpack and is “handled roughly”.
Adrian explained: “Though some cats may appear to tolerate backpacks, the movement on a person’s back is unpredictable and most lack adequate ventilation and space for the cat – leaving them cramped or uncomfortable.
“The large window in the bubble backpack featured also means cats don’t have the option to hide when they feel anxious, leaving them feeling exposed and vulnerable.”
The RSPCA says it has seen a huge rise in the number of “designer and purebred” cats coming into its care since 2018.
Alice Potter, cat welfare expert at the charity 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.
“Scottish Fold cats, as featured in the new film Argylle, have a genetic disorder that causes them severe and painful lameness.
“This is because the cartilage abnormality responsible for their distinctive folded ears also affects 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.”
JoAnna Puzzo, feline behaviour and training manager at Battersea, which has a centre in Ash, says the breed can seem appealing because of its round face and folded ears, and that people often don’t realise that they can experience serious health issues throughout their lives.
She explained: “Scottish Folds can suffer from severe arthritic conditions as well as joint pain caused by the same gene that is responsible for their folded ears.
“We understand that people may have their hearts set on welcoming a particular breed of cat into their lives, but here at Battersea we think it’s time people looked beyond a cat’s pedigree or breed and consider adopting a feline friend from a rescue centre like Battersea to give rescue cats a second chance in life.
“We would always urge anyone considering welcoming a cat into their lives to do their research and ensure they make a decision based on their lifestyle and the individual needs of the cat.”