Just One Litter
BY KATHY DURDICK, Ristokat Himalayans & Persians
Spanish Translation / Traducción Español

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From time to time, most breeders will receive an email ( or perhaps even a hand-written letter) from the owner of an unspayed pet quality female cat of their breed.

You have probably already guessed what comes next . . .

They want to know if you would have a stud cat they can breed their precious kitty to so they could have a litter of kittens.

It usually goes something like this . . .

Dear Kathy,

Hello, My name is Jane and I have an 8 month old Persian female, Dolly. I am trying to find a male cat for her to breed with as she is driving me crazy because she is n season and crying and screaming something fierce. :-)

I am pretty sure that I only want to have one litter with her so that my children can experience the miracle of birth, but I don't want her to breed with just any old cat.

Can you help us with a stud service?

Thanks so much.

Jane Pet Owner

How does a breeder answer an inquiry like this without offending the pet owner?

Most breeders do not offer stud service. But rather than simply replying in the negative, look at this as a teachable moment. It is an opportunity to educate the pet owner . . .

Dear Jane,

I am so sorry but we do not offer any outside stud service. Indeed I know of no reputable breeders in the area who do.

Have you given much thought to why and whether you should even think about breeding Dolly? Even "just one litter" is an expensive and often heartbreaking endeavor, and I suspect you haven't really thought about all that's involved.

For instance . . .

Genetic testing before breeding: Are you aware of some of the common problems of the breed, and are you willing to test before breeding your girl? For instance, Persians may often have problems with PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease). Responsible breeders are working to eliminate the condition from the gene pool by testing before breeding, and then altering cats that are positive and not producing offspring that might have the problem.

Stud fee: Frankly, I don't know a single breeder in my state that even offers any outside stud service. However, if you did find a breeder, plan to spend at least $500 for a stud fee, boarding charges while Dolly is there, and money for any lab work the stud owner might require before letting your girl into their cattery. This might include a complete blood work-up, FeLV, FIV, etc.

Time off work: You may work at home, but if not, plan the need to be off work at least a week around the time Dolly is due. She can NOT be left alone to birth the babies, or you will at a minimum lose the babies, and possibly Dolly too if she has any problems.

Birthing Problems: What happens when Dolly goes into labor late Sunday night and she has problems? You end up at the Emergency Clinic for a $1000 C-section. Even worse, you might in the process lose all the babies, and/or Dolly. Trust me, it DOES happen. Of course, it doesn't happen every time . . . but first-time moms are the most likely to have problems. Is it worth the risk of losing your pet totally, just for the chance to possibly have a litter of kittens? Especially think about how you are going to explain something like this to your children?

The Babies: Newborn babies are extremely fragile, and can easily fail to survive in their first couple of weeks. Are you prepared to take care of a sick baby, getting up every 2 hours around the clock to feed it to keep it alive? And then, to do that for a several weeks only to lose it anyway? Been there, done that, too . . .

I really think that this is a decision that needs a LOT of thought and preparation - not just "we'd like to have one litter". It poses a risk to Dolly . . . and her role as your family's pet is more important then her having kittens.

I don't mean to sound too harsh, but it seems too often people just really haven't thought of both the costs and risks involved in the process . . .

If after thinking about all the possibilities and responsibilities involved in breeding Dolly, you still decide to go ahead, 8 months is FAR TOO YOUNG for her to have babies. We wait until our girls are at least a year old before breeding them, because they really need that extra maturity themselves. An 8 month old cat is still more a kitten herself — and breeding her that young is like asking a 12-year-old girl to not only have a baby, but also be a good mother and take care of it properly.

Just some food for thought . . .

Kathy

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