Welcome to the ultimate guide to selecting a kitten for breeding! If you’re considering breeding cats, it’s essential to choose the right kitten for your program. Breeding kittens requires careful consideration of various factors, including pedigree, health, personality, and the reputation of the cat breeder.
In this comprehensive guide, you”ll learn about selecting a breeding kitten, so you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for success in your breeding endeavors. Let’s dive in!
The Importance of Pedigree in Breeding Kittens
When it comes to breeding kittens, pedigree plays a crucial role. Pedigree cats have a documented lineage, which provides valuable information about their genetic makeup, breed standard, and any potential genetic diseases.
It’s very challenging to find the health history of cats in a Pedigree. Requesting vet records on breeding cats should be normal practice. If the breeder declines the request, then perhaps that’s a red flag. We haven’t made it that far yet. LOL But wouldn’t that be nice?
What we can do is check PawPeds for any health records that have been uploaded in the Pedigrees. Some breeders participate in the health program and work toward improving the health of their breed. This works by sending in very specific health testing results to PawPads and have them attached to the cat’s Pedigree. This information is public. Not many breeders participate in this, so the information is limited.
When researching your Pedigrees on PawPeds, look for a little icon that looks like a clipboard. When you click on the icon, the health record will come up.
See the screenshot below. The result is from the cat Tojo Polaris Jim Morrison. Once you click on the clipboard, the results for an HCM DNA test for a Maine Coon is showing . As of July 2018, the tests were negative for HCM. DNA on a cat never changes, so this is good information to put on record.
Depending on the breed, there are several diseases that can be attached to a PawPeds pedigree. You can read more about their health programs on their website.
Evaluate the genetic diversity within the pedigree to maintain a healthy breeding population. A diverse gene pool reduces the likelihood of hereditary disorders and strengthens the overall vitality of the breed.
There’s different opinions on what the inbreeding coefficiency of your breeding cats should be. These opinions vary by breed, country, cattery goals and individuals cat breeders. Some breeders limit their complete inbreeding COI to 3%, while others may have a limit of 16%. It’s essential for you to learn how inbreeding affects the health and diversity of your kittens and make decisions based on that.
The best and easiest way to determine inbreeding percentages is by using PawPeds. If the Pedigrees have been uploaded, you can research the COI on single cats. You can also do test matings to determine if a particular cat is a good mating match for one of your cats.
Check if any cats in the pedigree have achieved championship titles or awards in cat shows. This can indicate desirable traits such as conformation, temperament, and breed standards.
You can easily check for titles in the Pedigree by looking for Championship Prefixes before their name.
- CH: Champion Title
- IC: international Champion
- GRC or GCH: Grand Champion
- DGC: Double Grand Champion
- TGC: Triple Grand Champion
- SGC: Supreme Grand Champion
- GIC: Grand International Champion
Special Consideration to the OD (outstanding Dam) and OS (Outstanding Sire) titles, which means that the cats have produced at least five Grand Champions.
Pedigree cats are bred to meet specific breed standards, which outline the ideal characteristics and appearances for each breed. By selecting breeding kittens with a strong pedigree, breeders can work towards producing kittens that meet these standards, ensuring the continuation of breed-specific traits and qualities.
The goals of your cattery should always be of utmost importance when making selections. Choosing cats with a history of the “type” that matches your goals will make your future easier. When reviewing a Pedigree, you can do a Google Search of the cats that are part of the lineage. Sometimes, but not always, you can find a photo of the cat.
From this information, you can start to build a portfolio and take notice of the similar traits that the cats in this particular Pedigree have. Just because a kitten has a Pedigree doesn’t mean that they’re meeting the standards of the breed established by the associations.
If a certain cat has produced offspring AND that cats’ pedigree has been added to the PawPeds Database, then you can trace that information. Typically, only cats that are used for breeding are added to Pawpeds. So the offspring that is linked to a cat is most likely going to be those that have went on to be breeding animals in a cattery. You can research individual cats in a Pedigree to discover Champions, health history, etc.
Review the reproductive history of the cats in the pedigree to ensure fertility and successful breeding outcomes. This information is limited, but you can do a bit of research again using PawPeds database.
Recognizing the Role of Lifestyle in Kitten Selection
While pedigree and breed standard are essential considerations in breeding kitten selection, it’s also crucial to take into account the lifestyle of the breeder.
The breeder’s cattery environment and socialization efforts significantly impact a kitten’s temperament and overall well-being. Kittens that have been raised in a home-like setting, with exposure to various stimuli and positive socialization experiences, tend to adapt better to new environments and form strong bonds with their new owners.
On the other hand, breeders should consider their own lifestyle and home environment when selecting a breeding kitten. Different cat breeds have different personality traits and activity levels, so it’s important to choose a kitten that aligns with your preferences and daily routines. For example, if you lead a busy, on-the-go lifestyle, a breed that requires less grooming and exercise may be more suitable for you.
Understanding the importance of lifestyle in kitten selection allows breeders and new owners to create harmonious matches, ensuring the kitten’s needs are met, and the breeding program, as well as the new home, thrive.
Assessing the Health of a Potential Breeding Kitten
Breeding kittens should be free from genetic diseases, defects, and health issues to produce healthy offspring. Assessing the health of potential breeding kittens involves various factors, including genetic testing, indications of good health, and essential health examinations.
Indications of a Happy and Healthy Kitten
When evaluating a potential breeding kitten, several indications can point to good health. A litter of kittens should display good health, vitality, and a normal gestation period. They should have proper weight gain, good muscle tone, and clean, clear eyes. Additionally, they should be active, curious, and playful, exhibiting normal kitten behavior.
In today’s world, importing cats is quite common and we’re typically choosing kittens for our breeding program from photos and videos alone. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always tell the whole story about a kitten. If you’re able to choose a kitten in person, then opt for that. Otherwise, get photos and videos from the breeder at multiple points in the kitten’s life (before its ready to go home).
Ask the breeder to send a video of them handling the kitten, so you can see a glimpse of its temperament. Also ask to see the nursery where the kitten is growing up. Talk to the breeder about how much time is spent with the babies and what their exposed to (children, dogs, other cats, loud noises, etc) from birth to 12 weeks.
The Role of Genetic Testing in Kitten Health
It’s important to also consider common health issues in specific breeds. For example, certain cat breeds, such as Persians, may be prone to hip dysplasia. By understanding breed-specific health issues, breeders can make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to ensure breeding kittens are healthy.
Genetic testing via DNA involves screening breeding cats for genetic diseases that may be present within their breed. By understanding the genetic health of the breeding cats, breeders can minimize the risk of passing on genetic diseases to future generations of kittens.
NOTE: Trust but verify your DNA test results. Some companies are known for providing inaccurate data when it comes to breed identifiers and other various traits.
Just a note, genetic testing does not determine a cat to be “healthy”. It only identifies if a cat carries certain physical traits, and carriers for genes for diseases. Even if your cat is clear of all disease markers, the cat can still develop one of these diseases. Also, there’s numerous other genetic health issues that a cat have that can’t be identified on a DNA test.
The Significance of the Cat Breeder in Your Selection Process
When it comes to selecting a breeding kitten, the breeder plays a significant role. Choosing a reputable breeder is crucial to ensuring that you are getting a healthy, well-cared-for kitten. A good breeder will have an excellent reputation, prioritize the health and well-being of their cats, and adhere to ethical breeding practices.
A good practice is to build relationships with several breeders that you share the same goals with. Building a friendship will allow yo both to trade kittens, discuss cattery issues, and bounce ideas off of. There will be times when you need someone to talk to, so having a small network of breeders is awesome.
Identifying Reliable Cat Breeders
Identifying reliable cat breeders is essential in selecting a breeding kitten of good quality. Here are some tips to help you find reputable breeders:
Do your homework and research catteries in your area or breed of interest. Look for breeders with good reputations, positive reviews, and happy, healthy cats.
Reputable breeders adhere to ethical breeding practices, prioritize genetic testing, health screenings, and socialization.
Tour the Cattery:
Arrange a visit or a virtual tour to the breeder’s cattery, if possible. This will allow you to assess the living conditions of the cats, their health, and temperament. A good breeder will be open to showing you their facilities and answering any questions you may have.
Social Media Presence:
Many reputable breeders have a social media presence, allowing you to learn more about them, their cats, and their breeding practices. Visit their social media pages, read reviews, and engage with them to get a sense of their commitment to their cats breeding philosophies.
By identifying reliable cat breeders, you can ensure that your breeding kitten comes from a breeder who values the health, temperament, and overall well-being of their cats.
Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing a Breeder
You’ll want to work with a breeder who is transparent and open about the health, pedigree, and genetic history of their cats. If a breeder is reluctant to share such information, it’s a red flag that they may have something to hide. MOVE ON.
Feline husbandry is a big part of owning a cattery. Cleaning and disinfecting plays a role in keeping parasites and bacteria at bay. When looking at photos of kittens, pay attention to the backgrounds, the cleanliness of the environment, the condition of the kitten, dirty litter boxes. If someone is willing to send you a photo that shows a filthy space you can imagine what the whole cattery looks like.
Too Many Cats
How many cats it too many? That is certainly a matter of opinion. But when it comes to raising cats and kittens, and maintaining a level of cleanliness and professionalism, theres only so much that one person can do. If you’re working with a larger breeder, make sure the cats are taken care of, healthy, and that the kittens are getting the human socialization that they need.
The Age Factor in Choosing a Breeding Kitten
The age of a kitten is an important consideration when selecting a kitten for your breeding program. Kittens change and develop substantially in the first year of life. It’s recommended not to choose a high quality kitten for your breeding program before the age of 8 or 9 weeks old. At this age they start to take shape, develop individual personalities and start to show physical traits that you may or may not be looking for. Jut remember that even if they look great at 8 weeks old, they could still change and develop an undesirable trait.
Ideally, you’ll be choosing kittens around the age of 5 to 6 months old. More times than not, a breeder won’t hold on to a kitten for that long unless they’re considering keeping it for themselves.
It’s OK To Walk Away
When it comes to selecting a breeding kitten, it’s important to be prepared to walk away if something doesn’t feel right. You should be 100% confident in your choice of a kitten. Otherwise, continue your search until you’ve found the perfect one.
A good breeder will answer your questions, provide health records, and make you feel comfortable and confident in your decision. Always listen to your gut.