Notes for new breeders
Cat Talk|February 2021
Experienced breeders will tell you that there are a number of things they wish someone had told them before they had their first litter. This article will share a few of those items with you in the hope that it will encourage you to read more and ask more questions.
By Kathy Hoos

Planning the First Litter

You have that first show/breeding girl, you have shown and granded her and now are ready for that exciting first litter. Be sure that your girl is mature and ready to be bred. Each breed has different rates of maturity, some breeds are ready at a year, others take up to two years to reach full maturity.

She should be up to date on all vaccines. Vaccinating a pregnant cat is not a good idea and may result in fetal demise, deformities or miscarriage. Wait at least 72 hours after administering vaccines before breeding; if possible, wait a week.

Picking the stud is typically not an easy choice. Surprising as it may be, you can put two GC, NW cats together and get a litter of pet quality kittens. After all, most of us have met some human children who look nothing like their parents. The same thing can happen with cats. Your mentor or breeder of your female should help you look at the pedigree of the potential stud. Are there repeat relatives in his pedigree, or would there be “double-ups” when the pedigree is combined with your female’s? If so, where in the pedigree are they and how often do they occur? Are the parents of the stud living? What other offspring have they produced? What are the qualities of the stud that can complement your female? Ear set? Eye shape and color? Color, pattern, coat texture? What if any, faults have the kittens from this male shown?

Cats have more than one blood type, and if your breed includes cats with multiple blood types, checking the proposed parents’ blood type is an important issue. If the dam and sire have different blood types, and the kitten inherits the sire’s an issue develops called neonatal isoerythrolysis. In this condition the kitten inherits the dam’s blood type and has antibodies to the sire’s type. The kittens destroy their own blood cells and die. This happens during the first 24 hours of life; during that time frame, the kitten has receptors in its intestines to absorb the queen’s antibodies from her colostrum, providing it with passive immunity to disease. After 24 hours, the receptors no longer permit absorption.

There are two ways to address this situation. By far, the best way is to only breed cats who share the same blood type. However, with some breeds, this may be more of a challenge because of a higher percentage of type B cats (see sidebar). If you do breed incompatible cats, it will be essential to keep the kittens from nursing for the first 24 hours. This can be accomplished by putting a onesie or a surgical suit on the mom, and hand-feeding the kittens. After 24 hours it will be safe to allow them to nurse. Being prepared for this possibility and managing it appropriately is part of planning your breeding.

The Logistics of Mating

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