Breeding pedigree cats may sound like an enjoyable, and potentially lucrative, endeavor, but it is a serious commitment. Most successful breeders have years of experience behind them.
If you decide to go ahead, be ready to spend a lot of time and money on research, preparation, and caring for your pregnant cat and her newborn kittens. You will also have to plan ahead for the kittens’ future.
A Big Decision
Do not consider breeding from your cat unless you have good reason to believe that you will be able to find a home for every kitten.
Before starting, get as much advice and detailed information as possible. The breeder from whom you bought your pedigree female cat will be able to give you valuable tips, including where to find a suitable pedigree tom.
You will need a good understanding of cat genetics, especially coat colors and patterns, because the litter may have a mix of characteristics. You must also be aware of genetic diseases associated with your breed.
Pedigree kittens sell for hundreds of dollars, but most of this income will be offset by stud and veterinary fees, heating for the kittens, registration fees, and extra food for both the mother and the kittens once they are weaned.
Pregnancy and Prenatal Care
If your cat has mated successfully, one of the first signs will be a slight reddening of her nipples, which appears about the third week of pregnancy. In the following weeks she will steadily gain weight and change shape. Never try to perform investigations of her condition yourself, as this could be harmful.
An expectant cat needs plenty of nourishment; your vet can give you guidance on feeding and will suggest supplements if necessary. It is also vital to have your cat checked for parasites, since she could pass these on to her kittens.
The vet may test a sample of your cat’s stools for intestinal worms and can give you advice on flea treatments if necessary. If your cat is naturally active, there is no need to stop her from jumping or climbing, but she should stay indoors during the last two weeks of pregnancy.
Do not pick her up unless absolutely necessary and tell children to handle her gently. Well before your cat is due to give birth, prepare a kittening box for her in a quiet corner. This can be bought ready-made, but a sturdy cardboard box serves just as well.
It should be open at one side for easy access, but not so low that newborn kittens can roll out. A thick lining of plain paper that your cat can tear up will provide warmth and comfort and is easily replaced when soiled. Encourage your cat to spend time in the box so that she feels at home in her kittening area and, hopefully, will go there when labor begins.
When the time for birth arrives, your role is simply to keep a close watch and contact a vet if problems arise. Make sure that you know what to expect—your vet can advise you about what will happen at each stage of the birth. In most cases, kittens are born without difficulty and the mother cat knows instinctively what to do, even if it is her first litter.
The First Week
Until they have been weaned, kittens need to stay with their mother and siblings all the time. The mother cat is not only a protector and source of nutrition, but a teacher of feline behavior as well.
It is through interaction with brothers and sisters that kittens practice their social and life skills. No kitten should be removed from the family group unless absolutely necessary.
Kittens start playing as early as four weeks of age and benefit from a few stimulating toys. Objects that roll around are popular, but don’t offer anything that could snag tiny claws.
Games often become rough and tumble, but even if the entire litter becomes a tussling furball there is no need to separate them. They are unlikely to harm each other and these mock fights are part of their development.
Keep a constant eye on the whereabouts of kittens once they are mobile and can climb out of the kittening box. They will wander everywhere and can easily end up being stepped on or hurting themselves. Keep them indoors until they have been fully vaccinated.
Kittens are ready for new homes at 12 weeks old. It will be hard to part with a litter that you have tended to since birth and even if you had not planned to keep any of them, you may not be able to resist.
Before entrusting a kitten to a new owner, do all you can to ensure that it is going to the best possible home. Arm yourself with a list of questions and do not come to an agreement unless you are fully satisfied with the answers.