BREEDING. OUR VIEW.
We aim this article to those people that are starting to breed
or that are thinking to do it in the future and only if the motivation
to do it is not just the money.
Our intent is to provide our view on the topic of breeding after
spending nine years doing it with high standards (or so we think).
We don’t want to be dogmatic or, in any way, try to impose
a specific way of breeding. Of course we don’t think the only
truth is ours. We try to propose some ideas for thinking and discussing
and hopefully some hints can be useful for somebody.
We write it because there’s a complete absence of articles
like this either in webs, books or magazines. When you start breeding
there’s nothing talking about it. We would have liked to have
something like this when we were starting.
And, finally, we discuss the topic with some sense of humour…Smile,
WHAT IS BREEDING?
Well, some parts are obvious, you know, the male, the female …
For us, to breed is to have an active contribution in preserving
a breed, improving it if possible.
Like all definitions, there’s some ambiguity here and probably
it’s not very helpful, so now we’ll drill down on it.
So let’s start with “preserving a breed” and
let me ask another question: Why do we need pedigrees? The pedigree
is like an authentication certification or a personal ID of the
cat. If you want to be sure that a cat belongs to a given breed
then it’s clear why it’s so important for a cat to have
It’s clear: if you want to breed Persians (as an example)
and you buy some cats to start your breeding somehow you need to
be sure that you’re buying true Persians.
But it’s also more than that: nowadays, if you’re
not registered somewhere you don’t exist, and when something
doesn’t exist officially it’s more frequent to suffer
abuses. Probably you can think of examples of this out of the cat
So, although some people may think that they are sure about who
is buying their cats, unless all of them are sold already neutered,
they can be starting a long line of non-registered cats and the
descendants can end up in a pet shop or as stray cats.
Someone may say that we don’t know either what the people
buying our pedigree cats will do and it’s true, but at least
we take responsibility for those cats that we sell.
Finally, the pedigree allow us to know the ancestors of our cat,
that is related with the second piece of the definition, “improve
the breed”, because the characteristics of our cats are inherited
form parents, grandparents and so on. We can study the “lines”
of our cats, in order to improve or be aware of possible problems.
In some way, to breed is like being God, because we replace the
freedom of the animals and they follow our decisions, so we should
be responsible and careful in what we do.
THE BEAUTY IS ON THE INSIDE
This should be the first principle guiding us. Breeding healthy
cats with good temper should be the first goal as breeders. Controlled
breeding can have very positive effects in a given breed when, as
an example, we do strict controls to select the most healthy individuals
and, over the time, remove genetic diseases from the lines.
Nevertheless, it can also be dangerous to be an extremist, we
are not talking here about neutering as soon as we see the most
insignificant problem, that way we can reduce the genetic pool of
At this point, is important to have a global vision, not only
of the breed but also of the biological rules of nature. So we need
to control the problem little by little, being careful of not forcing
So we have to breed to improve health and temper of our cats,
and when we have this assured we can start to worry about the external
view of the cat.
STANDARD AND CAT SHOWS
Some people say cat shows are beauty contest, but we don’t
think that is completely true. Probably you’ve seen a not
so beautiful cat wining from time to time, aren’t you? The
shows are, or should be, standard contest.
In case you don’t know what the standard is, it’s
the description of the ideal cat for a given breed. As we work to
preserve a breed, it’s normal that the cats that win are those
that are more close to that “ideal”.
(OK, OK, we know that in this point experienced breeders can have
a lot to say, but we can keep that for another article).
It’s a pity, but in the cat shows is only possible to judge
the external aspect of a cat. We are sure that most of the people
would agree that it would be much better if we were able to judge
also “the inside”, that is, we should be sure that a
winner is also a healthy cat. It’s clear that there’s
neither time nor ways to ensure that a winner it’s not only
a cat with a good standard but also with a perfect health. And probably
we don’t even agree in a definition of what healthy means.
So, although some details are checked in the shows (deaf certificates
for white cats, cryptorchidism for males …), the reality is
that health issues are the responsibility of the breeders and exhibitors.
So health is our responsibility, at least until judges are required
to have X ray vision. We have the responsibility to work, as much
as we can, to match an outstanding external view of our bathed,
groomed, perfumed cats, with an equal healthy inside.
External beauty of a cat and closeness to the perfect standard
is desirable, but is not as important as health.
How to breed healthy cats it’s a topic to write whole books,
we do not try to get here into any detail about that. In the health
of an animal there are many elements: genetic heritage (by the way,
parent selection should also consider health aspects and not only
beauty or standard), correct breeding with a correct nutrition and
It’s clear that cats are living animals and so they’ll
have illnesses and they’ll die even if we do things well.
Some diseases are difficult to detect until the cat is quite old.
The distinction between breeders will not be based on the fact that
these things happen or not, because nobody is free from having some
problems, the distinction will come from the reaction when the problems
So, if we have a diagnosis for a genetic disease, a responsible
behaviour would be to stop breeding with that cat immediately and
to tell anybody breeding with his/her offspring so they can also
Once again, we need to be careful. We are not taking about cutting
a whole line for a small problem in just one individual. We need
to understand the probability of the offspring to have the disease,
severity of the problem, etc. You can have some descendants that
are perfectly healthy.
If you really want to keep a line where you have identified a
health problem you can have a litter, keep one of the kittens, give
the others neutered as gifts explaining possible implications, and
latter you should check if the kitten that you’re keeping
is having the problem or not. In case is healthy, perfect, if it’s
not, start again.
As a general rule, you should apply objective scientific criteria
and common sense and not act based on fear, ignorance or trying
to hide the issues, a behaviour that has been very bad in the past
for cat breeding.
Openness is good. Knowledge sharing is good.
It would be healthy to share experience, knowledge and information.
Be more fact and science based and less about “old stories”.
What about trying to keep up to date with new developments? What
about reading articles in English?
We see that the breeders are sharing more and more, even the problems
they are having and not only the good stories. We think this is
the right way, so we want to encourage the few Spanish breeders
that are starting this path and we want to do our little contribution
with things like this article.