Breeding cats, is it for you?
By no means do I wish to stop anyone from following their hearts desire, I simply want anyone considering breeding to know the downfalls that come with the wonders of the journey. Also what to watch for, expect, and what tests to run for those who do take the plunge or anyone who's possibly dealing with an infection that could possibly be cured with medication.
Our Journey with infections, parasites, behaviors, and dishonest breeders.
Before we started our Cattery we bred Toy Poodles, my husband also grew up on a farm breeding cattle, so we had quite a bit of experience in animal birth. We thought that Bengals are amazing, we love them, and wanted to focus on trying to improve the breed. There are several things I didn't have the first clue about and no breeders were advertising any of it.
We started our journey off learning the hard way about infections & parasites.
We got Tetris and Athena, our silver queens, and Fiona, a retired marble queen, all sneezing with green eye and nose discharge. The breeder told us her vet said it was due to allergies but on the drive home Athena sneezed green snot on my arm and I knew it was bacterial. After going to our vet the following day we were told they had an upper respiratory infection and were told to give them Amoxclav twice daily for 14 days which we did. Their symptoms improved the first few days of treatment then remised back to how it was prior to giving the antibiotics. Another vet visit and we were told that we just didn't give Amoxclav long enough so we were sent away with a 21 day supply twice daily even though we asked for a different antibiotic...guess I wasn't pushy enough in hindsight. We were also told that our cats had Feline Herpes by the first two vets (it feels to me as this was their way of dismissing that they were ill and a manner of suggesting we should just deal with it because it would never go away). We searched for a vet with good reviews at that point because the two we had seen seemed clueless. We went to the third vet who was extremely knowledgeable of feline diseases and she suggested running a Upper Respiratory Sinus Panel. We did that and found out they had Feline Chlamydia along with Feline Mycoplasma; both of these bacteria are resistant to Penicillins. We also found out they were negative for Feline Herpes. We treated them with Doxycycline for 21 days and it cleared up their symptoms.
A few months later we got our first sire, Cupid. Cupid seemed very healthy and didn't have any issues until about 3 months down the road when he started having green poop on the floor. We brought him in and found out he had Giardia after running tests. We treated all of our cats several times, because the symptoms kept returning, before we ran a Diarrhea Panel and found out we had finally eradicated Giardia. Unfortunately, all of the antibiotics to get rid of Giardia had caused Clostridium Perfringes bacteria to overgrow in their intestines and they required yet another course of antibiotics to get rid of that. Also, during the time we were treating for Giardia we had a case of ear-mites that I believe came from the Veterinarian (Our queen Fiona had to go in to drain an abscess on her cheek and stayed for several hours and a month later we had ear-mites so guess we'll never know). Anyways, we started using Revolution and that took care of the mites, keeps fleas, and a few types of worms away also so it's money well spent to keep them healthy.
The next road we crossed was with behavioral issues. These issues are a huge factor in why we choose to spay and neuter our kittens before they leave. We want our babies to live out healthy happy pet lives and not get thrown out if they don't get altered early enough and begin fighting with other cats or urinating around the house. Also it decreases the likeliness that they will run away searching for a mate.
We knew when we started that male cats spray the majority of time. First we got Cupid and he luckily never sprayed, a male that doesn't spray is very rare. Along with not spraying Cupid didn't have much desire to breed either so we got Gerald....he couldn't walk 5 feet without spraying. Unfortunately the breeder who sold him to us was dishonest about this as well as how well socialized he was. We also bought a queen from a breeder who was supposedly retiring from breeding, the cat arrived at the airport completely feral and with eye discharge. PayPal of course doesn't do anything if you've received your pet so I got to give her away to a pet home. The lesson I learned from these two breeders is that I need to see a video of said cat interacting with a human and being held before I buy a cat that isn't local ever again.
We realized recently that we had been very lucky with Tetris, Athena, Fiona(retired), Jewel, & Rogue(retired) not marking in our home!! This past fall we found out that some females can and do spray, and not just when they are in season. Several of our new queens mark around the clock. Another behavior issue that can crop up is aggression in both males and females. Fiona, our retired marble queen, began fighting after her second litter of kittens and became very vicious with all of our other cats. We attempted to spay her in hopes that she would calm down because she was such a smart sweet girl with us but, she remained very aggressive and had to be placed in a single cat pet home where she's being loved.
Knowing what we know now, I'm not sure if we would have started, but I'm still glad that we did! It is very rewarding to raise kittens and bring families a new member that brings joy to their lives. I love all of our cats and the diversity in personalities they have. Seeing their babies born, watching them grow, and getting to know them individually is such a wonderful experience. I love having fur-babies romping around the house all of the time also!
When we started our CatteryI never considered how much I would be effected by loss of life. I luckily never had the misfortune of losing a puppy after it was born. I had 2 stillborn puppies but never lost one after they were born. It is extremely heartbreaking when we lose a kitten when they are too small or weak after being born. It's even harder when you stay awake day and night trying to save one and the baby passes anyways. Then just saying goodbye to our little ones when they join their new families is another downfall because it's impossible not to become attached. Seeing them in their new homes and hearing how they are doing and how their new owners like their personalities makes that part a bit easier.
For anyone trying to breed for a profit they should really take the following into account:
High quality food, veterinary bills, genetic testing, replacing toys (Bengals shred them 50 time faster than a regular domestic cat), replacing scratch posts, replacing household furniture (especially if you think you're not going to buy toys or scratch posts), replacing or losing any sort of possession that can be shredded/shattered or destroyed when peed on (found out our new girls were marking because we smelled it on the couch but later the same week we found out they had urinated on all of our children's toys so the electronic ones went to the garbage), replacing human clothing (kitten claws snag when they climb up your legs, even when clipped they still manage) all of this adds up very quickly so if you think your going to make a fortune you may want to find a more productive, less destructive pastime to make money. Also, prepare for scars because kitten claws are like razors and they aren't afraid to use them to get where they want to go at your expense. Also I will add that Adults frequently fly through the house as well and have used my arms & legs as a brake or launching pad which happens to hurt quite a bit more and leaves even worse scars....My arms and legs look like I fight lions for a living 😂