Cat behaviour part 1
No one knows their cat better than their owners. We all know the characteristics of our cats from their distinct meow to their personality traits. My queen is a lot braver than my stud cat who is the definition of a ‘scaredy-cat.’ For a while I was perplexed why he was so nervous ad timid. Did I do something wrong? Was I responsible?
The short answer was no; this was simply his nature and whether I liked it or not he was not going to change to any great extent though there are a few clever tricks I learnt which can make a real difference.
The main reason why I came to the realisation that I was not responsible for having such a timid cat was observing my other cats. They simply were not nervous and were very placid to the point of not getting out the way when I had to go to one room to the other – the complete opposite of my stud. If I had been responsible for my cat acquiring a timid nature then surely my other pets would follow suit but they didn’t.
The other primary reason why I knew I wasn’t responsible was due to my stud cat being very affectionate with me when I am calmly sitting down and would cuddle up, purr and sleep in my lap but when someone knocked at the door he bolts to a nearby hiding place.
Fortunately in terms of discipline cats can easily be taught what not to do. You might not be able to make them participate in elaborate tricks like dogs but they certainly know when a particular action is out of bounds. For instance one of my cats loved to destroy any plants or flowers in the house which was very frustrating. As soon as you raise the tone of your voice and say ‘no!’ they soon get the message. They can be cheeky however and go up to the prohibited object again but as soon as you stand up they dash out the room because they know they are not supposed to do it.
Another aspect to bear I mind if you wat to keep your kitty obedient and on their best behaviour is to allow them to maintain a routine. Cat’s love routine and if this is disturbed things can start to go wrong. If you go on holiday for too long or inadvertently start to neglect your pet (an example may be that you are decorating your house and isolating cats in a specific room to keep them safe) they may start to scratch up furniture or discontinue using the litter box. If you cannot keep up their routine (and there may be legitimate reasons) then compensate for this by giving your cats extra attention.
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Those who have read previous articles on this website may be asking: ‘what are the actual costs of cat breeding?’ The answer to this depends in part to what you consider a cost to be. To elaborate, I do not think anyone should start breeding cats because they want to make money. If that is the only reason you would bring an animal into your house then that is an extremely unethical and frankly stupid thing to do.
So you are an animal lover and you have some cats. One could argue feeding the cats is a cost though you would have to feed your cats even if you neutered them so I consider this more of a necessity than a cost. What I consider costs of cat breeding are additional costs on top of regular costs of keeping a pet in the first place.
In terms of food a pregnant queen may need up to four times more food than she usually consumes. Cat food isn’t that expensive even if you buy a leading brand which I do. I use Royal Canin and if you buy the cat food in bulk it is considerably cheaper. I buy 10kg of dry food. In a later article I will get into what food is best to feed cats.
So your costs go up slightly because a female queen consumes more food. Another cost may be time taken off work. You may be woken up in the early hours by your queen giving birth and decide to take the day off work. Is this a necessity? It depends on how much you feel being present would benefit your cat. I personally am of the opinion the less intervention of the pregnancy the better.
When the kittens are born you will have to take care of them for at least 13 weeks. This means more food, more litter, vaccinations, worming and de-fleaing. These costs are not considerable and if you are selling pedigree kittens in excess of $1000 then your costs will be more than covered.
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There is a common misconception that you can’t make money out of cat breeding. I hear all the time breeders saying quite sternly to people who happen to inquire about the topic: ‘I only just break even when I breed my cats;’ ‘good luck making any money breeding felines’ and my personal favorite – the ever so condescending: ‘why do you want to breed cats anyway?’ The bottom line is whether a person classes themselves as a professional cat breeder or a ‘hobby breeder’ they DO make money.
It is rather disingenuous to suggest otherwise and there are a number of reasons that can be deduced quite easily as to why breeders seem to be untruthful. I will explain in a later article how much cat breeding actually costs and how much money you can make by doing it but for now let’s get into the reasons cat breeders claim they do not make money.
Firstly there is the matter of ethics. We’ve all heard of the dreaded backyard breeders and these people have given the whole concept of breeding a bad name. Of course most breeders have a sense of ethics but people fear that they will be amalgamated into the same category as the backyard breeders. They feel they would be tarnished with the same brush to coin a phrase.
There is also the matter of the Cat Fancy association with which the breeder could be a member of. Most breeders register their cats with a Cat Fancy such as the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. These associations state that the individual should not breed for monetary gain so breeders are forced to keep up the pretense that they make no money out of the endeavor and claim the price they sell (or adopt – a more ethical word they tend to use) the kitten for only covers the expenses they have accumulated by the breeding process itself. Strange in that case why the rarer the breed the higher the price. To give an example –a Persian kitten carries the same expenses as a Ragdoll yet the Persian will be sold for more. If the breeder truly did not want to make any money they would sell the Persian for the same price as the Ragdoll. Same goes for color – a colorpoint kitten will fetch more than a bi-color kitten, breeders charge more for colorpoints even though a colorpoint is no more expensive to keep than a bicolor.
Another point links in with the aforementioned Cat Fancy associations. When a kitten is registered with such an association they fetch for on average $300 more than if a kitten was sold and not registered. Therefore breeders want their cats registered with a Cat Fancy association and since these organisations do not want to be associated with breeding for profit the breeder cannot risk being ostracized and struck off the association so must claim they ‘break even’ with their breeding program.
For any breeders who are offended by this article I would say first and foremost you can be a breeder whilst simultaneously loving and nurturing your pets but we should not delude ourselves or others that at least SOME money is made in the process. If this were not the case we would not see the varying fluctuation in prices kittens are sold for. If you truly believe you are not making money then start selling your beloved colorpoints for the same price as solids or bi-colors. Happy ethical breeding to all.
When you first start out breeding you are advised to house a queen or two but to avoid keeping a stud cat. I, like many before me started this way but as my first queen began to grow older I started worrying about the inevitable trip to a stud keeper. As time passes by you develop a bond with your kitten and by the time she was 6 months I decided I did not want to take her to a stud house. This left me with the dilemma of either abandoning my breeding program altogether or raising my own stud from scratch. I took the latter option and have not regretted it since.
The first thing to consider before purchasing a stud is where he will be kept. I bought my stud as a kitten so he had free roam of my apartment but as they get older they are likely to spray which means somewhere you will need to convert a part of your house into ‘stud quarters.’ The obvious choice is to create a stud house in your garden. For me, this was not an option as I live in an apartment with no outdoor facilities.
My stud liked to spend most of his time in one of my bedrooms so I thought it would be logical to pick this room as the main stud quarters. If you do have outdoor facilities though. I would strongly recommend you choose these over indoor premises because of the problem of cat spraying. When you build stud quarters outside make sure it is fully secure. The last thing you want is your stud escaping as even if he returns you are risking him exposure to nasty feline viruses such as FIV. Once he acquires such a virus you can kiss your whole breeding program goodbye as he will quickly infect any queens you keep as well as the repercussions of infecting paying customers who wish to use his services on their own queens. So make sure he cannot escape and make sure it is secure to stop potential thieves stealing him. My Persian stud cost me $1800 which is not an unusual price to pay; point being cat thieves do exist and your first priority should be your pet’s safety and well-being.
Make sure your stud house contains lots of toys; warm blankets (I recommend wool) and shelter! If it starts pouring down with rain your stud needs somewhere to go to get out of the rain. I also recommend to let your stud indoors for supervised playtime. Keep an eye on him as you do not want him left to his own devices as he will more than likely start spraying around the house and anyone who has gone to a breeder’s home can tell you – the smell is absolutely atrocious, the male spraying is 100 times more potent than their female equivalents.
Keeping a stud really is not that difficult and it is a very rewarding experience. I personally liked the freedom of not being dependent on stud owners who I found to be quite arrogant and they spoke as if they were doing me a favor (which was the opposite considering they were charging on average $500 for their services). Keeping a stud means you can offer stud services yourself. But make sure all visiting queen’s have vaccinations up to date and are clear of viruses such as FIV. It only takes one queen to infect your stud and if this happens he will need to be neutered and retired early.