Spring is in the air, daylight hours are getting longer, and our girl cats are coming into heat...
"Hmm..maybe just ONE litter of kittens would be fun."
"We should have just ONE litter for the kids."
"I want to breed her so i can have kittens just like her."
"I just want ONE litter to make back the money i spent on buying her."
"Well, she's a purebred, papered Persian - why NOT breed her?"
These are just some of the most common statements I have heard over the years from people wanting to breed their cats. Most have just been purchased as family pets, and the idea of breeding did not enter the owner's head until they started "calling" all night long. Others were indeed good-quality cats that had been purchased for the intent and purpose of breeding -- but no research had been done prior to the purchase, and now the owners are all looking for a "quick fix" stud service for their girls.
Breeding your cat, or any companion animal for that matter, should never be a decision made in the spur of the moment. Unlike dogs, breeding your female cat is usually not just a quick afternoon trip over to the home of the stud cat. A serious breeding program -- one that ensures that the best, healthiest kittens have good, responsible homes waiting for them -- is something that takes planning, research, and time to develop.
Did you know that in the Cat Fanciers' Association alone last year, there were almost 15,000 Persian kittens registered (including Himalayans)? This does not include the thousands of kittens that were not registered but are purebred. This does not include all the Persian kittens from all the other associations, such as ACFA and TICA. This is more than all the other breeds combined! Most are not show quality, or even breed quality.
Do you really think the world needs more pets? Do you really want to contribute more pets? Many Persians end up in pounds and shelters because new owners buy from breeders that don't properly screen the new homes. Many cat lovers want Persian kittens. Really, what is cuter? However, most cat lovers should NOT own Persians. They just have no idea what is involved in the 12- to 20-year lifespan of this pet.
The grooming is a major commitment. These cats have been bred for a super heavy, thick coat. This coat does not take care of itself, and in most cases, it is far more than the cat itself can manage. This means a life time of either keeping the cat shaved down or a lifetime of constant grooming, and bathing, keeping the face clean and healthy. This is not a breed that just needs a once-a-day combing and brushing to keep the coat healthy and in good condition.
Many Persians have poor potty habits also. This is probably the biggest reason for surrender of a cat to an animal shelter, pound, or new home. Sometimes this is an environmental problem. Other times, it is something that seems to follow in certain lines. If your cat has poor potty habits, maybe it is just because of being intact, but if not, do you really want to produce more kittens that may have the same bad habits? They could be tossed outside to fend for themselves, bounced around from home to home, or dumped in a shelter or pound.
When producing a litter, a reputable breeder feels responsible and bound to each kitten in that litter for their entire life. If the new owners cannot keep the kitten for any reason, are you willing to take this cat back at any age into your home? Persians have the unfortunate honor of being the number one most popular breed of purebred cats. With this comes overbreeding and an increase in breed-specific health problems. Poor conformation can lead to crippling jaw or hip/knee deformities. There is a genetic kidney disorder (Polycystic Kidney Disease) that is common to some lines in the Persian breed. Heart problems are common as well. And let's not forget cardiomyopothy. Do you know if any cats behind your cat have had any of these or any other genetic disorders?
If you bought your kitten from a pet store, then you may not even have correct information about the ancestry. Pet stores usually buy their puppies and kittens from "mills." These are notoriously filthy "farms," where the cats and dogs are kept stacked in cages with little room for movement. There is no concern for their health, genetic makeup, or well-being -- and little or no socialization. They are also notorious for not correctly registering with the proper parentage.
There are other issues for breeding your cats that are usually not explored by the new breeder. As mentioned above, many people think it is like breeding a dog. You just pop the girl in the car, take her over to the stud cat, wait a few minutes, and you are done. It is usually much more complicated. First you need to be sure the male cat is appropriate and complementary to your girl. Do the lines mesh well? Will he correct any of your girl's faults? Does your girl complement the faults of the male? Has he been minimally health tested? Has your girl been tested? For example, FIV, FELV, FIP are 3 contagious, incurable, and fatal diseases that can be passed through breeding. If a tomcat is being offered at public stud by his owner to anybody who has the stud fee, then you are exposing your girl to all the other cats that have been through that cattery. Other problems that you can bring home with you are fleas, ear mites, fungus (i.e., ringworm), and body mites. Another common problem is just getting the girl to accept the male. Often, cats that have been raised as pets, or are properly spoiled, do not adjust well to travel, strange environments, or new cats. It can take weeks and/or several trips back and forth to even get her bred.