Archive for December, 2010

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Part 8 of “So you want to be a cat breeder” – buying the queen

27 December, 2010

I hope I haven’t scared you off cat breeding with my series of articles about how expensive and taxing cat breeding can be.  What I want to show is reputable cat breeding, warts and all, not just the happy moments playing with cute kittens.  If you’re still reading this series, then thank you for listening and good luck!

This post deals with buying your breeding queen.

A Maine Coon queen or intact female cat can cost anything from £550 upwards (2010 prices).

Most queens are purchased when they are still kittens so that they get use to your home and set-up.

Things to look out for when buying a queen include:

– the conformation of the kitten.  Kittens change as they grow but as a whole, look for good boning, a nice square muzzle, good ears.  If the parents of the kitten have good conformation, then chances are, so will the kitten, but there are no guarantees.

– has the mother and father of the queen been tested for HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and if so, what were the results?  It goes without saying that if both test positive then you shouldn’t breed from the queen.  And if even one tests positive, then you’ve got to be sure that the stud you use doesn’t test postive for HCM, otherwise the kittens will be born with a high chance of having HCM.

For other breeds, familiarise yourself with the diseases that that breed may be prone to, e.g. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

And remember the refrain:  always breed for health.  There is nothing more distressing than getting a phone call from an owner to say that the cat they bought from you has keeled over from heart failure or other chronic disease that is genetic in nature.  There is no justifcation in bringing in kittens that are prone to illness.

– look at the history of the parents and grandparents of the queen.  Don’t be wowed by their champion status.  How old were they when they died?  Did they suffer from any chronic illnesses?

– look at the history of the queen’s mother.  Did she kitten easily?  Was she a good mother?  Good mothers pass on their nurturing skills to their daughters.  Did her mother require a caesaerian or multiple caesaerians?  Did the mother neglect her kittens?  If so, avoid a queen from such a mother.

– the sale contract for the queen is different for a non-breeding cat.  There may be conditions attached to the sale, e.g. no male kittens from the queen to be sold as stud cats, or only one female kitten from each litter to be sold as a breeding cat.  Another contingency covers the possibility that the kitten might be infertile – the breeder will usually offer a refund or another queen.  Some breeders may demand a kitten from the queen’s first litter.  A reputable breeder will not try to make the contract onerous.

– after-sales support, i.e. mentoring.  If this is your first queen and first attempt at cat breeding, then you will definitely need mentoring from the breeder of the queen.  So you want to make sure that you get on with the breeder of the queen.  And that’s when all those visits to the cat shows pay off.  Mentoring could include being able to use the breeder’s stud cat, or if breeder lives nearby, that important hand-holding during the birth.

Remember, you are not just buying a breeding cat, you are buying into a guarantee of health and fertility, and a support structure.  And if you buy from a reputable breeder who has made a name for him/herself, then you also get the prestige of the breeder – this will open doors when it comes to getting a good stud cat to mate with your queen.

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Snow can collapse cat fencing

20 December, 2010

 

I have Secur-a-cat cat fencing.  It keeps my cats in and the neighbourhood cats out.

As you can see from the photo above, the cat fencing is made of salmon netting that’s strung between aluminium struts that have been bent at an angle of 60 degrees.  It is very robust and can withstand a lot of punishment.  Hand on heart, it is the best investment I’ve made in my cats’ welfare ever.

Last year, the snow fall was so heavy that I returned one night to discover layers of snow had accumulated on the netting and iced over.  The snow was so heavy that it pulled some of the struts off.  The netting hung in disarray and there were gaping holes in the fencing.

Goodness knows how, but my cats hadn’t twigged that the fencing was down and done a runner.

They were very interested though, in why I was running round the garden in pitch-black darkness.  They shadowed me closely as I shook the fencing with a broom to get the snow off.  What with the cat familiars, I’m sure my neighbours thought I was a witch trying to get some momentum before taking off.

Have you ever had to mend cat fencing armed with just a torch and twiddly bits of wire, festooned with lengths of salmon netting, in the middle of a freezing snowstorm?

Fast forward 12 months and four inches of snow fell in London yesterday.  Deja vu?  You bet.

This time I was prepared with my trusty broom.  Results below.  Fingers crossed that we don’t get any more heavy snowfalls.