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Should I Breed My Cat?

Is the cat a purebred or moggy?

If the cat is a moggy the answer is a definite  no. Moggies are beautiful cats, come in all shapes and sizes and are just as special as purebred cats but the fact remains there are already thousands of moggies who are euthanised in shelters every year. There just are not enough homes for these poor cats, and by bringing more moggies into the world you are contributing to the overpopulation problem.

If the cat is a purebred you have a new set of questions to ask before going ahead and breeding.

Are you registered with an appropriate cat council?

If you want to breed, you should be registered with one of cat councils. Not doing so makes you a backyard breeder.

Is the cat of breeding quality?

This may not seem important, but it is. Your cat may not be suitable for breeding purposes as it may carry a detrimental gene which could be passed onto future offspring, causing congenital defects.

When you purchased the cat, did you purchase breeding rights?

If you plan to breed, please make sure you purchase the cat with the understanding from the breeder that it is to be bred with and become a registered breeder with a cat association.

Ask yourself why you want to breed?

  • Is it because you believe that cats should have one litter before they are desexed? If so, this is an old wives tail with absolutely no truth to it.
  • Showing the children the miracle of birth. This really isn't necessary, it is a lesson children can learn by watching a video or reading a book. Children should learn about responsibility and that includes being responsible for our pets, and not contributing to the pet overpopulation. Also ask yourself, are you prepared for your children to see the miracle of death? How do you explain to them if something goes wrong, a kitten is born with a severe defect, the mother dies, or kills her kittens. Is this something you want to teach your children also?
  • My cat is so cute, I want some more just like her. Once again, your cat may be cute but think about the thousands of other cute cats who are desperate for a home in the shelters.
  • My sister, friend, mother wants a cat just like mine. See above.
  • I want to recoup the money I paid for my cat in the first place. This is a common reason for people to breed their purebred cat (or dog). In actual fact, it often turns out an expensive practice. Breeding comes with a lot of uncertainties, including risks to the mother during birth and unexpected veterinary bills. If she has difficulty delivering her babies she will in all likelihood require a caesarian section. You will also have to find a male for her to mate with, and once again, both queen and stud should be screened prior to mating. To not properly screen is dangerous and irresponsible. Add to that the cost of vaccinating, worming, microchipping, food and sundry veterinary expenses and you will be lucky if you break even.
  • If you have a cat who meets the breed standard and is a nice representation of the breed, has the right temperament to become a parent and you have started out on the right foot by becoming registered then breeding may be a rewarding experience for you. But you should make sure you are breeding for the right reasons, breeding for type and temperament, and with the knowledge and understanding that it is not a money making exercise, there are risks involved and it is the responsibility of the breeder that the kittens are placed in suitable homes.

Are you experienced?

You may think that breeding is a no brainer. You put a female in with a male, they mate and around 63 days later you have an adorable litter of kittens.

While yes, this is hopefully the way it will go, there are many things which can go wrong, which is why breeding should be left up to those with experience, or at least somebody who has an experienced mentor to help guide them.

Are you prepared?

Okay, presuming you are a first-time breeder who has registered with the cat council and has a breeding cat what next? Find a male and let them mate?

No, before you go ahead you will need to run some tests.

Some breeds have particular disorders which can be screened for. For example, you can have a DNA swab to determine if your cat has polycystic kidney disease.

You should also perform blood tests for FIV and FeLV.

Find out the blood group of both the stud and queen.

Do you have the right tools on hand for the birth and kittens?

  • Kittening box. This can either be a sturdy cardboard box or a commercially available kittening box.
  • Several pairs of sterile surgical gloves.
  • Eyedropper or syringe to aspirate the mouth and nose secretions.
  • Dental floss or cotton thread to cut the umbilical cord.
  • Antiseptic to apply to the umbilical stumps.
  • Scissors.
  • Clean towels.
  • Your vet's phone number.
  • An emergency vet's phone number.
  • Kitten milk replacer.

Do you have the knowledge necessary to care for a pregnant cat, a cat in labour, a cat and her kittens and possibly the kittens should the mother die or reject them?

Generally, a mother will do a great job raising her kittens by herself, however, things go wrong. She may die in labour or reject her kittens. If this is the case, do you know how to hand-raise kittens? Are you prepared to feed them around the clock for several weeks until they are old enough to wean? Will you take time off to care for newborn kittens should the mother not be able to care for them?

Your responsibility:

You are responsible for the mother, her health, wellbeing and general care. You are also responsible for the kittens until they leave home at a minimum of 10 weeks of age.

Remember, that a kitten should never leave it's mum until it is at least 10 weeks old. This is a common mistake novice and backyard breeders make. Sending kittens off to their new home from as early as 6 weeks. This is just way too young for a kitten to leave mum. They may have weaned and have been introduced to solid food, but they still have such a long way to go developmentally and emotionally. Also, at 6 weeks of age, they haven't had their first vaccination and are at risk of contracting a contagious disease. Kittens separated from their mother at too young an age can develop many behavioural problems including aggression and inappropriate elimination.

It is also your responsibility to ensure any kittens you bring into this world are properly vaccinated before they go to their new home.  NSW at least also requires that all cats be microchipped, which will have to be done prior to the kitten going to it's new home. All kittens will need to be wormed before they leave also.

It is the breeder's responsibility to ensure that the kittens to go a suitable home. Just giving one to your next door neighbour because they think the kitten is cute is not how you go about it. You will need to ensure that any homes are financially and emotionally prepared and able to keep the cat for up to 20 years. They are aware of the responsibility of owning a cat, including desexing, regular veterinary care.

Are you prepared to pay veterinary costs incurred in the first few weeks that the kitten is in his new home? Most responsible breeders will offer a health guarantee for the first few weeks. Are you going to do this?

Also see:

Cat pregnancy   Cat Giving Birth   Dystocia in Cats   Mating in Cats