Yes they can be linked. The performance dedregation depends on the stability of the design.
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To follow up on what Corona said, I agree that cables can be linked together. Bare in mind that each connection will cause signal loss to occur. To top it off, one can run into some weird impedances when linking multiple cables of different designs together. As such, you are best off to use the same cable ( if possible ) and to keep the connections down to a minimum. Sean
It is interesting that Bill Low of Audioquest,writing a "manufacturers comment" in the most recent Stereophile magazine recommends adding a balanced cable to be tested to an existing cable in just this way to determine the sonic quality of the DUT. I would doubt that he would recommend for a regular system, however.