Cattery Reduction and Creation
What to do if you have too many cats
New and old breeders alike often become overwhelmed very quickly in their breeding program when they look up one morning and realize they have too many cats! Each litter produces a favorite, each breeding cycle produces a kitten the breeder feels needs special attention for one reason or another. And some breeding seasons produces more kittens than homes are available for that time of the year....then one or more kittens grow and becomes another cat in the cattery.
How does a cattery keep itself in control? What does the cattery do if it finds it has more cats than manageable? How many is too many? How many do you really need for your program? Exactly what is your program? These are excellent questions in which each cattery and breeder needs to establish an exact answer and then follow whatever the answer is!
When setting up a cattery
- Select a program choice and a magic number to work this program. For example, are you planning on breeding solids, particolors, bi-colors? Start with one or the other, but try not to mix in the early stages of the cattery.
- Next, rethink the program and make sure it works for what you already have verses what you are looking into purchasing.
- Gather pedigrees, work for the best.
- Examine cats, ages, type, production qualities (are they proven?), research the pedigrees, know what is behind the cats you are looking at. Compare the pedigrees and lines, do they work with each other?
- Get the best male you can find! Make sure his pedigree is worth his weight, filled with Grands and DM's.
- Select females that have something super and outstanding...each with different qualities to work into your program. For example, one girl can be heavy boned and have coat dripping to the floor while another can have great head type with huge eyes.
- Find a mentor, someone who you can trust. Someone who will teach you and not just dictate to you. A good mentor will not become angry with you when you and they disagree, but will understand and remain your friend. Don't grab the first mentor available, select your mentor as you would your mate. Many breeders getting started use the breeder of the kitten they adopted as their mentor, sometimes this works wonderful...sometimes it causes jealousy between the two breeders and a nightmare is born. I have been very fortunate to not have encounter any bad mentors.
I had several mentors, all long distance, yet very encouraging in guiding me correctly towards breeding properly and setting up my cattery in a wonderful direction of lines that work very well together. I also made many great friends which have shared freely with me and who live locally nearby as well as those I met via internet. And very important...I developed a wonderful relationship with my vet in which I have been using since 1986. He still has many original members of his staff and together we have shared and learned more than either of us expected to come our way. A note here- most vets tend to be more dog oriented, rather than feline, just keep this in the back of your mine:-).
Keep in mind, newbies are looked at as if "they must pay their dues", in both the showhall and the breeding direction...therefore, don't worry yourself over the politics of it all, enjoy your new cattery! Don't let this worry you, ignore it and move on...otherwise you won't survive.
A novice is a novice forever in one department or another. Some learn quicker than others, while some never catch on. If you have been breeding for three years or ten years, you will always find someone who considers you still a novice...in addition, you will always be a novice towards anything you have not yet experienced first hand. Some say the magic number is 6-7 years....others say at least 10 years before you are not a novice. The truth of the matter is up to you and how well you learn and how much you take in and retain from experience!
Now it's time to learn showing, health, and breeding...make sure you do your homework! Don't buy from the heart, and make sure your foundation cats are from respectable breeders with a healthy registered cattery.
Ok....now you've been breeding for a bit, and either your health or time has become something different than it was in the pass...now it's reduction time! But how, who?
If you find you have passed that magic number, yet are in love with each and every cat passed that magic number...here is some helpful advice gathered from the advice of many breeders. The order of these statements are not in any particular order, but each answer is one more step towards helping in cattery reduction. Reprinted by permission of Kathy Montano, Kathy took a survey and here are her results, with one added by me.
- Place cats with friends, other breeders, etc, to hold for you for said amount of time while you regroup, so you can breed the cat again later. Co-own, contract, whichever works with the person and situation.
- Place female proven breeders with newbies, so that they can have a bit of help in their start.
- Select from your head, not your heart! This is a biggie, and a tough one at best! Select best quality, easiest, healthiest producers.
- Offer speuters as second cats to kitty buyers.
- Place advertisements for specific breeders available and generate a number of potential buyers to choose from.
- Speuter all the breeders before placing them. Send them to their new homes with their ribbons for the new owners to display.
- Select only the best pedigrees and closest to standard cats you have, and keep a smaller number than you want to end up with, because you will undoubtedly keep babies along the way, and will soon be in the same dilemma again!
- Give away good breeders to other breeders that you know and trust, and take a pick of litter back later as payment. (when you can handle more again, etc)
- Pet out the maybes.
- Lease out some of the cats to breeders you know and trust.
- Advertise cats at the senior centers with the promise to take the cat back should something happen to the elderly person.
- Find your happy number. Then don't let any new members in, unless you have one to go out to replace it. This will keep your number even with what you know you can handle.
- Make good and bad point lists for males and females. Include colors and colors they are capable of throwing. Evaluate pedigrees for duplicates, any known complications with line, etc.
- Place all lousy moms as neutered pampered pets.
- Be sure you look at how many litters you can handle a year, to help determine how many breeders you should keep.
- Look at which cats have the strongest immune systems.
- Select a couple of colors to work with, instead of all possible colors for your specific breed.
- One breed or the other if you have moved into various breeds...this might resolve the numbers.