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When should you breed your cat?

5 April, 2008

If you are a cat breeder, and new to cat breeding, here is some information I’ve picked up on when to breed your cat:

1.  If your queen is a maiden queen (i.e. never been bred before), then the rule of thumb seems to be wait until she is a year old, or has called at least 3 times. However, some breeds of cats come into call earlier than 12 months.  For e.g. the Orientals have been known to go on heat at 4 months old! 

In the end, you have to play it by ear – a calling cat can lose condition if she calls repeatedly – and take the advice of the breeder who sold you your queen.  She owns the mother cat to your cat, and in most instances what applies to the mother cat applies to the daughter too.

2.  You don’t want to have your queen calling repeatedly because of the possibility of her developing pyometra which is an infection of the uterus.  It is a condition that all breeders fear and dread because undetected it can be fatal.  A holistic cat breeder in the US told me that a healthy cat (raw-fed, unvaccinated from a line of unvaccinated cats) should not pyo, but of course the reality is that breeders are not all able to have such cats, and in any event, genetics plays a part too.

3.  The GCCF guidelines on how often to breed your cat is that she may have 3 litters in two years.  Again, and maybe I’m rocking the boat, but it depends on how old your cat is, and how large the litters are. 

Some breeders prefer to breed a cat more when she is younger and has more strength and resources in her body to nurture kittens, and then neuter her early. 

Some breeders say wait at least 9 months so that the queen has enough time to build up her iron stores for the next pregnancy.

4.  If your queen has had a very small litter, e.g. 2 or fewer kittens, she may come into heat fairly shortly after kittening.  This happened last year.  My girl had a litter of 3 (1 died) and started calling 3.5 weeks after giving birth.  

A breeder wrote into me and said that that was nature’s way of telling me that this litter/birth was “a walk in the park for her system” and that she bred her cats more frequently when young and then neutered them.  However, I took the advice from other breeders and didn’t breed her that time. 

I’ve since heard another school of thought:  if a girl has a very small litter and comes into call soon after, and hasn’t lost much condition, if you breed her as soon as she comes into call, this next litter will be a large-ish one.  Apparently, and I don’t know if it’s true, I’ve heard that this is the practice that some US breeders have adopted. 

The explanation given to me was something along the lines of:  each time a cat calls and not bred, the eggs in her ovaries that are ready for insemination get old and are discarded by her body.  Each time she calls, fewer and fewer eggs are therefore available for insemination.  So it’s best to breed as soon as she starts calling after giving birth to a small litter.

There are lots more articles on the web about when to breed your cat – please consult them and don’t take this one as gospel truth.  At the end of the day, you (with the advice of your vet) know your cat best and will know when to breed her.

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7 comments

  1. How many months do you have to wait to breed your cat again? Because my cat is a outdoor cat and 6 months ago she had her kittens and shes pregnant again is that safe for her?


    • you shouldn’t allow the cat outside & if she is outside all the time, please have her fixed/spayed. are you aware of how many cats & dogs are put to death everyday in this country because the shelters are outflowing? please fix your lady cat. she will live a healthier life.


  2. Hi
    I am a breeder my self and have been breeding for the last ten years and have always been in a position not to be able to mate any queen I have bread or bought in, at the first call,
    I have recently here’d and read here that you have to wait until the queen calls three times before mating a maiden queen.
    Is this true in every case or every breed and also why is this
    Anna
    Ps I am asking because I have a 15 month old bsh who has called for the first time and for the first time I’m stuck !


    • Hi Anna,

      Thank you for your e-mail, and apologies for the delay in replying.

      This three times rule is not set in stone. I think it applies more to young maiden queens who start calling before the age of 1. And again, restricting the first mating to over 1 year old depends.

      When I first started, I waited until my queen was a year old – I was told by her breeder that this was to ensure she was mature enough. If the queen is too young, then there could be issues with the birth etc. because she’s not physically ready to have kittens.

      So my queen called I think once or twice before she was a year old, and than I mated her.

      However if your queen is already 15 months old and physically mature, I don’t see why she shouldn’t be bred. This is especially so in breeds that mature earlier (I think the orientals fall into this category, but I can’t be sure).

      Best wishes and good luck!


  3. Hi, my cat is approx 6 months old. For the past 3weeks she’s been in heat twice, calling at the door. She’s a house cat her breed is shirazi. I’d like to breed her, do you think she’s ready or still too young?


    • Hi Eman, I would say six months is too young. What breed is she? The oriental-types tend to start calling at an earlier age. GCCF guidelines are to wait until about a year old.

      Best wishes,

      ________________________________


  4. Yes the GCCF rule is that the cat must be over a year but also what ever the breed it always best to wait till the cat is old enuf and a year is a good place to start. Cats will and can call from 6 months this is normal but for breeding the cat must be mature and fully grown for healthy kittens and mums well being.



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