Hand on heart now! How many of you would even consider throwing yourself from the top of a cliff gliding without having read the smallest instruction, without having any lessons and without getting any instructions from someone more experienced? Totally uninformed… just take your glider and go? Not many I guess?
Nevertheless, this is what many people actually do when it comes to cat breeding. Both breeders of pedigree and domestic cats are renowned for initially taking in a female and immediately commencing breeding. It is a very important fact that not all females or males are suitable, regardless of how sweet, tender and nice they are.
Should you choose to glide without experience you are risking your own safety. Commencing breeding without the requisite knowledge can risk your female's health. So much can go wrong during pregnancy and kitten birth, and just like in humans, every pregnancy implies a strain on the female's body and an inherent risk to her life.
What should be considered in healthy breeding?
Well, all the choices you make have far-reaching consequences that spread much wider than one would initially anticipate:
- Make sure the cat that you buy has parents that have been tested for inherited diseases. Testing is specific to the chosen breed and should be done prior to your female becoming pregnant. As a breeder, you can not completely prevent genetic inheritance risks from appearing in the offspring, but by following the recommendations in a proper health programme, you have done everything possible to mitigate the risk and provide assurance to your kitten’s buyer.
- Is your female / male suitable for breeding? Here there are many more criteria to consider than, for example, the cat is pretty and has a nice temperament. The cat must first and foremost have gone through the tests, free from hernia and in males obtained certificates that both testicles are considered normal. Temperament is also a major consideration in choosing breeding cats.
- Does the cat have a good enough standard for the breed? Is the cat considered to have more than adequate characteristics for the pedigree? If you do not have the knowledge yourself, then ask someone for help (with sufficient experience which I consider to be a minimum of 3 years breeding). Learn to see how your breed should look like according to the standard. Do not breed according to your own preferences and aesthetic tastes without studying how the pedigree should really look. Nothing compares to reading and learning and studying yourself. Not all breeders raise cats according to a standard. “Extreme breeding” and "fashion whim breeding" can be often seen in the exhibition world. One year the tail will be extremely long and next the ears will be over-sized. So my advice is research fully on all these points.
- What do you know about the background? Do you know your breed? Is there anything else to consider than just the inbred percentage for five generations? For example, at MCO, there are the clones that we need to take into consideration. NFO has had Pan's Polaris etc. Do not become blind to the numbers but learn how to interpret them. I have seen bad examples where cats have apparently 0% in 5 generations but when looking at the pedigree, one sees that there are siblings mated in near generations and on the other side of the pedigree, there is a female mated with his sister's son. Perhaps not the smartest combination made….
- Something that beginners sometimes do is to buy a male and a female and then mate them several times over and over again. Even BYB's like to redo the same combination several times. This is to be avoided unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances:
- If no kitten went for breeding for whatever reason, or went to breeding and never had a litter.
- Perhaps you were looking for a female to keep but only got males, or vice versa.
- Maybe there was no "real litter", not more than 1-2 kittens.
But as a general rule to follow, you do not mate the same combination more than once because it does not add variety to the breeding.
- You should not breed in order to produce only pet kittens; a litter should always be made with the aim of adding positives to the breeding. If it does not, there is little point in taking the litter in respect to improving health and genetics. I have heard breeders apologize for making an unusually bad mating match (where the female should not continue in breeding) by selling all the kittens as pets. Such a mating is not breeding, it is “kitten-production” and no better than breeding domestic cats. Of course many litter might end in all kittens being sold as pets, but this should never be the aim, purpose or objective for serious breeders.
I will go deeper into breeding in other documents, such as choosing a kitten, selecting male to a female mating combinations, pregnancy problems that are rarely discussed, and much more.
By: Malin Sundqvist