Thinking of Breeding
Most breeders begin breeding accidentally. By that I mean they may have had no idea that that's what they were getting into when they first started out. They may have a cat they adore and really want to clone it. Believe me when I tell you that won't happen and a lot of other things will.
Becoming a breeder should be something taken on with a lot of forethought and planning. First one should research the chosen breeds. Having one Maine Coon is not enough. Get to know breeders by going to cat shows, joining a local cat club, and listening a lot first.
The next thing you may notice is that it's not easy to get a good breeder to part with what he or she considers a good breeding cat. They will want to see some evidence of your commitment to this new project. I've heard people say, 'well. How am I supposed to do that if no one will sell me a cat?' The best way is to find a mentor. A breeder who has a lot of experience with the breed you love and get to know whatever you can. Read everything you can. Study feline diseases, and husbandry.
Two books that should be on your list are, Feline Husbandry by Neils Pedersen, and Breeding Pedigreed Cats, by Vella etc.
Pedersens book may be costly at first but not having it and knowing what's in it can be much more costly. Knowledge of husbandry is crucial to successful compassionate and safe breeding. Anyone who ignores this very important aspect of breeding is doomed to failure and disappointment as well as costly losses of both money and lives of innocent cats. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Vella's book is an excellent tool that will give you an idea of the day to day activities and walk you thru the maze of paperwork and politics of the cat fancy. Get and read both before making a decision to breed.
Be prepared to give up all travel plans, unless you have older children who are willing slaves. Be sure that you have plenty of money in reserve for what ever might happen. Something always does. Prepare a part of your house according to your needs and budget that will be only for cats. Using your closet or drawer is not the best idea for a lot of reasons.
If you plan to get involved in the cat fancy, in other words showing, the two don't always mix. Pregnant cats can't be shown once they are obviously pregnant and personally I wouldn't take even a possibly pregnant cat to a show. Pregnant cats are not allowed in the show ring, and should never go into a show hall. The risk of her getting sick is too great. If she gets a virus, she may be fine, but your choices of treatments may be limited due to her pregnancy and either the sickness or the medication needed can harm the unborn kittens. This means you will need cats to show and those you breed. Of course it can be done, but one must be careful about exposure, and re introducing show cats. Showing is costly and takes you away from home for a few days. It's also tiring and while exciting to have your cat win, this doesn't always happen.
Breeding is a lot of things. It's fulfilling, frightening, time consuming, physically challenging, and more. One thing it is not is a hobby that makes money. You will need good food, a good environment, a good vet, a mentor, and plenty of extra money just to get started. While most people start out thinking that there's nothing to it. You just put two cats together and wham, kittens. Since female cats don't ovulate this does not always happen. Your male has to be experienced and a new queen is not always willing. The female cat doesn't ovulate until after the male has ejaculated inside of her. He has to be able to get there. Believe me, some males just don't have it. Some females make terrible mothers. Then one must be prepared for the birth and what comes after. Read plenty first. Read, ask, research. There's much more to it than purchasing a female and a male.
One also should be aware that many kittens just don't make it, or when they are born they are born with birth defects and cannot remain with us. Some tough decisions have to be made at times. Sometimes kittens are born not looking at all like what they should, or they can't nurse and would soon die. If you are not prepared for this, and for finding out why this happened then breeding is not for you. A study done many years ago found that nearly 50% of all kittens born in captivity, that could be observed did not make it. Most breeders experience better odds than that, but not without a lot of work. At times the numbers could be higher.
Be wary of any breeder who is all too willing to sell you 'breeding rights' without questioning your intentions and experience. Many good breeders won't allow you to breed unless they are convinced you are devoted, dedicated and ready. More than likely if they do sell you the breeding rights they will ask for participation in your decisions with the breeding. This is understandable. After all, they have spent years developing their lines and want only the best breedings to take place.
This is one area where just because you can afford to buy something may not give you the right to do exactly as you please with it. To a breeder, her cats are her children, not commodities.
There is much to be said about breeding, but this site is not intended as a 'breeder' site, but rather one which will help people who have cats or want to have cats in their lives. It is an important subject however and it needs to be addressed here, but more as a warning to the uninitiated, and an introduction so that you will appreciate what it takes to be a good breeder.
The site below was referred to me by a fellow breeder. It is a site that originated in England where cat breeding is taken very seriously. Even a quick glance at this site will give you an idea of just how much one needs to know to even consider breeding cats. http://www.fabcats.org/info_breeders.html
At one time, a time when I was feeling particularly down, I had lost some kittens, and this does happen, to the best breeders I wrote a little prayer. I look at it often. On the lighter side, in addition to very valuable breeding how to's, Carolyn Vella's book is chock full of anecdotes such as, "you know you're a cat breeder when your cat has more combs than you do" and many many more. The bottom line is that being a good breeder means many things. It means sacrifice, but to those of us who are dedicated the fulfillment is most times worth the price.
A Cat Breeder's Prayer
I beseech you, or Lord, creator of all beings
To guide me to wise and only loving decisions In the care of your creatures
Guide me to do what you would want,
Temper my enthusiasm with wisdom
Give me the patience and tenderness to
Cope with disappointments and the courage
To end pain and suffering when you call
These babies back and respect that not
All of your decisions are ours to know.
Grant me humility so that I may remember
That these tiny creatures are helpless
To remember that you are the creator, I am not.
To seek guidance when I need it
To accept the wisdom of others with grace
To teach others with love
To remember that the hands you have given me
Are there to do your work.
I pray for wisdom, guidance, and love
And the strength to act according to your will In all ways, accepting the care of your creations as a gift.
Thank you Lord,