Background: Cats are globally popular pets and pedigree cats are increasingly prevalent, with brachycephalic breeds being the most registered breeds. How owners decide upon and acquire their cats is poorly understood. Moreover, there are growing concerns about the health and welfare of brachycephalic (BC) dogs and recent studies are raising the awareness of health and welfare problems in BC cats. Methods: An online survey investigated owners’ motivations, perceptions and behaviours prior to, during and following acquisition of non-pedigree (NP), extreme brachycephalic pedigree (BC; i.e., Persian and Exotic Shorthair) and mild to non-BC pedigree (P) cats. Results: The survey received 1367 valid responses (NP n = 882, P n = 400, BC n = 85 (6.2%)). There were marked differences between NP, P and BC owners’ perception of their cats’ health and welfare, reason(s) for acquisition and its process. Owners of NP were less influenced by appearance, behaviour and other features than P or BC owners. In contrast, P and BC owners were highly influenced by appearance, with P owners also placing greater importance on good breed health than BC owners. BC owners were less likely to recommend their breeds to prospective cat owners, apparently concerned by high maintenance requirements. Conclusion: Further research is needed to determine how decision-making is constructed and how it may be improved, especially in respect of welfare outcomes for extreme BC cats given the increased weighting given to appearance over health.
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