Cats will breed when left to their own devices. In fact if you leave cats to do their own thing the local cat population is sure to explode. Cats can live in almost any environment, as shown by their presence in the Australian desert, and snowy mountains. They can multiply very quickly if conditions are right… and city conditions are surprisngly very right! When non pedigree cats are left to do their own mating, you can wind up with any number of combinations of cats in a variety of colours. If you just let your cat out at night so she can become pregnant, you never really know what you are going to end up with. It is actually possible for more than one sire to be involved in a litter of kittens, which makes the surprise of what the kittens will look like even more interesting.
However, if you want a specific type of cat or colour spectrum, you must carefully monitor your cats and make sure they mate with the cat of your choosing, at the time of your choosing. You must restrict breeding to a certain type of pedigree cat that will give proven results based on its genetic makeup.
Owning a Queen
You will want to start with owning a queen of a particular breed. When you are ready to deal with kittens, send the queen to breed with a stud of the same pedigree. It is best to wait until the queen is at least a year old before doing this so that she has matured sufficiently to produce an optimal liter of kittens.
You will know when your cat is ready to mate by when it begins to call. Calling is the term used to describe the period of time when the cat is in heat, or in oestrus. It is termed calling because cats in heat tend to call out for mates. This is accompanied by the excretion of a clear vaginal discharge that is cleaned away by the cat. You will also know when your cat is calling because she will be rubbing her head into the floor while pointing her tail straight up in the air, and she will rub her rear end on furniture or even your leg.
Different cats call at different times. The cycle is individual to the cat. Some foreign cats may call for the first time around four months, while some other cats may not call until they are one to two years old. The calling repeats anywhere from every few weeks to only a couple of times a year. Again, the cycle depends on the individual cat.
While it is possible for a cat to have up to five litters per year, it is recommended that you only allow your queen one litter per year. Some queens will continue to produce litters year after year, while others dry up naturally. Some cats may continue to go into heat and mate but stop becoming pregnant. If necessary you can have your queen spayed when you no longer want her to breed.
Preparing for Mating
When you first see signs that your queen is ready to mate you must make sure she stays indoors so that she does not choose her own mate. This can be difficult because the cat will be anxious to leave the house and find such a mate, which means it will be hanging around doors and windows. In order to prevent the cat from being let out accidentally, you should prepare confined quarters for the queen to occupy during this time. This can be a caged run with sleeping quarters or other confined space. This should be developed long before the first calling. These quarters will also prove invaluable in confining the cat and her kittens later on, preventing them from being trampled or moved by the queen to inappropriate locations around the house.
While you are waiting for your queen to be ready to mate, you should be spending time looking for a suitable stud. You can start your inquiries with the breeder that sold you your queen. You may want to compare the pedigrees of several studs with the pedigree of your queen to make sure it is a suitable match. Maiden queens should be sent to experienced studs, while older queens can be sent to younger studs. The stud should excel in points in which the queen is lacking, such as a defect in eye colour.
You should book the stud in advance and give the owner some type of estimate as to when the queen will be ready. If you keep records of her calling cycle you should be able to estimate this quite easily. Do not take the queen to the stud the moment she begins calling. Instead, wait a couple of days to ensure the cat does not go off heat when moved.
Your queen will go berserk when she first smells a male cat for the first time, especially if she is calling heavily. For this reason you should take the queen to the stud in a cat carrier she cannot get out of. You should take her directly to the queen’s quarters of the stud house, preferably without having to pass the stud closely.
Once the queen is in her quarters, she will be able to get to know the stud. The quarters of the queen and stud and separated by wire mesh. This allows them to sniff each other out and get to know one another before mating. The queen may hiss and spit at the stud at first, and this is completely normal. When the cats are rubbing on each other through the wire mesh, it is time to let them mate.
Typically a non slip mat is kept on the floor somewhere in the stud’s quarters. The queen will immediately and instinctively go to that mat and put her head down and her rear end up high. The stud will hold down the queen’s neck and mount her from behind. When the queen reaches climax she shoves the stud off and rolls around on the floor, potentially even attacking the stud. This can be allowed to happen over and over again over the course of the day, although it usually only takes once to create a litter, and additional mating may not necessarily increase the chance of a bigger litter.
When you use a stud you will have to pay a stud fee, which includes a fee for the service as well as a portion of the costs of keeping the stud available throughout the year. In addition you will have to pay fees for the lodging of the queen while she is there, which can be a few days if she is not calling when you first arrive.
Most queens will go through pregnancy and have their kittens with no issues whatsoever. Each kitten comes out in its own amniotic sac, which must be burst open so the kitten does not suffocate. Usually the mother will do this, but if another is coming out or she neglects the kitten you will have to do it for her. You can clear the passages of the kitten with a soft tissue or clean fingers. Once the mother hears her child mewing she will have renewed interest. Often the kitten will immediately and instinctively go for the teat.
If the kittens come quickly you will definitely want to help out with this process. However, if they come slowly the queen may prefer to do all the work herself. This work will include biting off the umbilical cord. If the cat does not do this on its own, you will need to cut the cord. Make sure you do not cut too close to the kitten. When the entire process is over the queen may want to eat the afterbirth or placentas. However, if she has many kittens she will not be able to eat all the placentas, and you should remove them when she no longer shows interest in them.
There are times that a queen may have hours of labour and not produce any kittens. When this occurs you need to contact your vet. The kittens could be breech, or there could be problems with the mother. However, as long as the queen is not in distress it can be best to leave well enough alone and allow nature to take its course.
Caring for Kittens
When all the kittens are born you can lift them out of the box they were birthed in and change the newspapers or bedding. The mother will object at first, but when she realizes what you are doing she will go along with it. You can now leave the mother alone with her babies. You will want to provide food for the queen in the box with the kittens. She will need all the nutritious food she can get, but she won’t leave her kittens to get it.
Eventually the mother will leave the kitten box and go use the litter box. This is an excellent time to change bedding, which should be done once or twice each day. It can be helpful to keep the cat out of the room while changing bedding, as she may take offense at her kittens being disturbed.
During the next few days the queen will enjoy regular grooming. In addition to typical grooming you may do as a part of routine, you may need to clean the underbelly of your cat with baby shampoo or kitten friendly shampoo if the kittens start to develop eye infections. You will then also have to clean the kitten’s eyes with a small bit of clean cotton, a new piece for each kitten.
You should confine the queen with her kittens so that she doesn’t wander off and leave them. If she does wander off and leave them or she dies in childbirth, you will have to take care of the kittens yourself. To do this you will need a foster bottle and replacement formula milk. You will have to feed the kittens every two hours day and night for the first week. You must also rub the bellies of the kittens to stimulate urination. You will also need to keep the kittens warm. As you can tell it is not necessarily easy to raise kittens without the mother, and it takes some patience.
Owning a Stud
Keeping a pedigree male cat is only for experienced breeders, and not beginners. You should have experience with at least two queens before you consider owning a stud. Managing a stud is not a light undertaking, and should be carefully considered.
Not only will you need to provide the very best for your cat, but you will also have to provide the best for the queens that visit him. You will have to have separate queen and stud quarters that are separated only by wire mesh. You will also need to have a deep and abiding love of all animals and people in order to successfully deal with queens and their owners.
Before getting a stud of a particular breed you should make sure that the market is not already saturated with that breed. Saturation of the market could mean that your stud does not have any business, which makes male cats extremely unhappy and hard to deal with.
You should not allow your stud to roam free, as he might run into any number of troublesome situations. He could catch a disease from freely mating, or he could become injured by a car or other animals. He could also become lost, not able to be available when a visiting queen arrives. Instead of letting him roam free, you should keep him permanently confined within a rather large area.
The stud will become ready to mate with a queen between six months and two years old, depending on the cat. When the cat is ready to breed, you should try him out with some queens. Once he has proven his worth with a couple of litters he can be put to stud.