Posts Tagged ‘Cat breeding’

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Waiting for the Stork …

22 July, 2009

Stork1

 Here is Ananda, my Maine Coon queen, waiting for the arrival of the stork sometime later tonight or tomorrow.  Knowing what cats are like, the kittens will most likely arrive sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

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Here is a close-up of Ananda’s belly, to show how, 24 hours before delivery,  a queen’s nipples get swollen and engorged with milk in preparation for the kittens.  Ananda has been restless today, occasionally panting, and very clingy.

The kitten box is ready with the bedding and the rest of the pregnancy kit.  I’ve re-read my kittening notes, I know it’s not the first time, but each time has been different so I’m feeling anxious.  All I can do is wait … .

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A possible cause of stud cat “infurtility”

24 June, 2008

I couldn’t help the pun in the title – it will become obvious.

During the NBA cat club seminar this year, Dr. Susan Little showed us a video clip of a Persian stud cat sidling into a pen, and eyeing a queen with great interest.  Wow – I’ve never seen a cat move so quickly!  It was like something out of a special effects movie:  one moment he was nonchalantly sidling into the cage, and the next second he was on her.

However, the mating seemed to go on for longer than usual.  Cat matings are usually short and brief: the tom does his bit and leaps off before the female can scratch him to bits.  In the video it was obvious that the male cat was having problems with getting to the right bits.

In seems that in cases where studs have problems mating, it pays to examine the fur surrounding the penis.  Sometimes with long-haired cats, bits of fur can form a hair ring round the base of the penis, preventing it from penetrating sufficiently. 

Something so easy to overlook in this day and age of science where the tendency is to submit a cat to every medical test under the earth.

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Why radiators may be bad for pregnant cats

28 May, 2008

(I attended the annual seminar organised by the Novice Breeders Advice Club on 24th May 2008, and this post is one in a series of words of wisdom which I hope to share with you, gleaned from the experts at that seminar) 

One of the discussions at the NBA Cat Club seminar was on feline fertility.  The speaker was Dr Susan Little, a veterinarian and internationally-known lecturer on feline medicine.  She mentioned a case in which a breeder had Sphynx queens who could never carry kittens to term.  They did the usual casework to try to determine whether there were any physiological reasons for the infertility.  In the end, it turned out that it was extreme heat and cold that was affecting the cats’ fertility.  The Sphynx cats had a habit of going outside where they would get cold, and then come indoors and jump onto one of those cradles that hook over a radiator.  The bed was of course extremely warm.  Once they stopped the cats from using radiator beds, or indeed any heated beds, fertility returned.

The message is obvious:  extremes of hot and cold could have a negative effect on a female cat’s fertility.  And I would go even further and question whether heated beds should be used by pregnant cats.

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In a huddle

22 May, 2008

 

Kittens moving to form a huddle

Newborn kittens have limited ability to regulate their body temperatures.  Until they develop such control, they spend a lot of time cuddling next to their mother. 

When their mother is absent from the nest, they huddle together in a pile to conserve heat.  It reminds me of the behaviour of Emperor penguins who cluster together in a snowstorm.

If the kittens’ body temperature drop too much, this inhibits their suckling reflex, so it is important that they should be kept warm enough.  Some breeders use heating pads or hot water bottles wrapped in towels or infra-red lamps.  Some believe that artificial heating should only be supplied if it is snowing outside and the temperature in the room is cold. 

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Kitten Teat Wars! The movies

19 May, 2008

I wrote yesterday about the feeding frenzy as newborn kittens jostle to establish their teat supremacy.

Imagine what it must be like:  you’re a newborn kitten, you can’t see anything, you’re in a space filled with bolster-like objects that jostle and hurtle into you and turn you round and round so you don’t know where you’re going.  In the meantime, you’re starving but every time you find some yummy milk, someone else is there.  No wonder kittens get so desperate!

Here are some short clips I took this morning to show you just how energetic the kittens can be at feeding time.  They were taken in low-light conditions, so the film is a bit grainy, but I didn’t want to use artificial lighting in case it disturbed the kittens. 

[Sorry you’ll have to click on links and not on a video itself.  This is the first time I’ve ever uploaded anything to YouTube and WordPress is playing hard-to-get when it comes to embedding videos.  When I sort it out I’ll stop pulling my hair out.]

This is a video clip: Kitten Teat Wars – Part 1.  A cream kitten and a ginger kitten square it off over a teat.  It looks like ginger has got its teat, but find out what hppens in the exciting conclusion, Kitten Teat Wars – Part 2.

Here’s the sequel: Kitten Teat Wars – Part 2. The cream kitten’s got an impressive left-paw.  Will it stand it in good stead?  Will he get the teat?

And they lived happily ever after …

 

 

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At the Milk Bar

18 May, 2008

Day-old kittens, jockeying for position at the Milk Bar

Last night was particularly noisy on the kitten front.  I was woken up several times by squeals and screams from the kittens.  Each time I stumbled out of bed to discover that the kittens were fine, they weren’t in the process of being squashed. They were just fighting over their spaces at the milk bar.

The first few days (and nights) of a kitten’s existence seems to be taken up with working out where mum’s teats are, which are the best, and who can get the best teats.

It’s a bit of a cat-eat-cat world where the Teat Wars are concerned.  It’s quite shocking to see how these little cute kittens which are smaller than the palm of your hand, and are born blind and deaf can get quite aggressive when it comes to food. 

I have seen kittens scramble around and shove another one off a teat so that the kitten falls off, onto its back, waving its paws like an upturned turtle and emitting a scream that will wake anything up.  I have also seen kittens moving from one empty teat to a fuller one, never mind that they have already had a teatful of milk.  It’s all me-me-me, where milk is concerned.

Kittens must orientate themselves towards the teats by mostly smell.  The urge to suckle must be all-driving.  I watched as a kitten from this litter, newly-born and barely 15 minutes old, wriggle out of mum’s grasp and cleaning tongue, to unerringly find its way to a teat.  Mind you, on occasion, I’ve felt sorry for a kitten bumbling its way helplessly around the rotund landscape of mum’s belly, and picked it up and held its nose to a teat until it latched on.

 

Oops, just missed it!  The cream kitten on the left tries to locate a teat by smell and touch.

I think that in most cases, the largest and strongest get the best teats.  These are the ones located towards the rear of the mother cat – they are the plumpest and most engorged with milk.  The two at the frontmost, the ones just next to the front legs aren’t as juicy.

 

Umm … a bit lower down … towards your right.

One year I had a litter of 7 kittens which meant that one kitten always ended up at the front.  In the end I had to top up with commercial milk because the kitten wasn’t getting as much nourishment as it needed and was losing ground to its siblings.  I fed just enough to give it the strength to fight for its teat.

 

Er … not that low.  Watch out – Ginger has smelt your teat!

Last year I had a litter of just 2 kittens and it was like a 5- star restaurant for them, with a choice of teats for starters, mains and dessert.  They waxed plump and fat throughout their kittenhood and I named them Roly and Poly.

 

Phew … made it in time.  Ginger will have to find his own.

Mum tries to help all she can.  I can hear her mewing encouragement at the kittens as they stumble around.  Most recently, I’ve heard her growl at the kittens, a strange low rumbling growl that sounds more like an admonishment and warning than a preamble to a smack.

When she had 7 kittens I used to put my hand under her and place her on her back so that her teats were more accessible.  I’ve seen her occasionally turn from side to side, as if making sure that the kittens suckle evenly from the teats.  She also gets up and changes position when she’s fed up of the kittens squabbling over the teats.  Each time she moves a wail of kitten screams rise up as those who’ve got seats at the top table must now relinquish them.

It’s said that by days 3 to 5, the kittens would have worked out some sort of teat hierarchy and tend to stick to the same teats.  Which is good news if I’m going to get any sleep at all.

(With many thanks to Mum cat, Ananda, for inspiring me and letting me out of the bedroom to post this)

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Some useful cat pregnancy sites

16 May, 2008

As you may know, my queen, Ananda is pregnant, and hopefully the stork will be visiting soon. She was very restless last night and this morning. I woke up several times to rub her tummy for comfort.

Here are some cat pregnancy sites which I have found useful. The first time she kittened, I didn’t have anyone experienced to help me, just what I found on the internet. All I can say is … I was lucky, it went smoothly, and thank goodness for the www.

Feline Advisory Bureau’s “Feline Parturition – When to wait and when to worry” – explains the different stages of pregnancy, has photos of a cat giving birth, discusses interrupted labour, possible encountered during labour, what you can do to help and methods of kitten revival.

About.com’s “So your Cat is Pregnant” – a series of articles on the birth process and possible complications.

PetEducation.com’s “Queening (Giving Birth)” – has a handy list of what supplies you need for the birth, also a sample table for recording kitten weights. One thing missed on the list is a torch – this is very handy if you wake up in the middle of the night and want to look at kittens without switching on the main light.

Rameses Cat’s “Ellie’s Kittens” – day-by-day progress report on Ellie, a Siamese cat, from birth to when the kittens leave home. Fantastic photos and narrative. Also check out Libby’s Kittens on the same site.

Finally, expert advice from the people who’ve been there and done that on the Novice Breeders Advice Forum. As cat breeders keep strange hours, you can count on almost 24/7 advice on this Yahoo Groups forum. You will have to register before participating, so best to join the group well before your queen is due. Really warm and generous group.