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Breeding Sphynx cats is animal cruelty: court

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Sphynx cats are almost completely hairless, with no whiskers or eyelashes. Photo: DPA
11:18 CEST+02:00
A Berlin court has ordered a cat owner to have her hairless Sphynx cat castrated – because it would be animal cruelty to let the naked pet breed.

Willi, a Canadian Sphynx, belongs to Berlin cat breeder Jacqueline Linke.

True to his breed, Willi is almost completely hairless – a quality that makes Sphynx cats popular choices for those with pet allergies.

Despite his questionable appearance, Willi emerged as champion in the 2013 Pedigree Cat Exhibition in Berlin, and has gone on to become a proud father to three naked kittens.

However, Willi won't get to pass on his genes to any further offspring.

On Wednesday, the Administrative Court in Berlin ruled that Willi's lack of whiskers meant that breeding him would violate the 2013 Animal Protection Act.

"These 'naked cats' have no whiskers, which normal cats use to orient themselves in the dark," Margaret Ronneberger, head of cat breeders' society Felidae, told Berliner Kurier.

This lack of whiskers would be passed on to any offspring - which the court decided was tantamount to animal cruelty.

So to prevent the cat fathering any more kittens, authorities have asked Linke to have Willi castrated.

This is the first time a court has made a decision of this kind, said Judge Christian Oestmann.

Despite admitting that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," the judge's verdict was clear: the Animal Protection Act forbids the breeding of any animal missing a species-specific feature, the lack of which could case pain, suffering or harm.

The decision is open to appeal – and with Linke planning to continue her fight for Willi's virility, the case could even reach the Federal Administrative Court.

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Willi isn't the only naked cat currently taking up residence with the 41-year-old Berliner.

Enola, Rumba and Sadira – "the girls" – are also almost completely hairless. "They're so cuddly, and child-friendly," Linke said.

"Willi is part of the family," she argued, adding that naked cats are "very people-orientated, and intelligent".

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