Breeding Ragdoll Cats
Yes, you want to have playful Ragdoll kittens around the house but are you prepared for this new phase of your life? Bear in mind that a responsible breeder should not focus on the money per se but on the joy that every kitten will possibly bring for a family. Your goal should be to provide the best cats as much as possible. That is, no birth-defects, healthy and strong. They should preserve the Ragdoll line and must not belittle any cat adoption process. It is like raising children and dealing with others (your buyers) to have their own. Some people also breed cats for research purposes. Here are some tips to help you on breeding your lovable Ragdoll cat or just to start with.
- Prepare the family. Cat breeding is no easy task even as a hobby. The whole family is involved so you better consult them first. This will also require good amount of money as well as prepare for some loss. Think twice if you are taking care of children because breeding will require time and effort.
- Do your research. Read information about Ragdoll cats and familiarize yourself with this breed. You need to know them to be able to meet their needs. You can also visit catteries to have a good picture of cats within a home. Calculate the money that you need to start with this business and advertise for possible clients.
- Get high-quality breeding stock from a trusted person. Check online for a reputable breeder that you can freely ask for a good pedigree line. Having champion blood line and good temperament as well free from possible hereditary diseases are important. If you want a Ragdoll cat for breeding purpose, expect higher prices and buying through a kitten mill is not recommended. Some breeders have standards for clients. Avoid out crosses to make sure that your starter is a full and standard Ragdoll.
- Show and register your cattery. Tracing the blood lines would be easy and you can also build up your reputation. The same body can also be joined by owners to avail newsletters and promotions.
- Be open-minded. Welcome ideas, tips and information from fellow breeders. You can attend seminars, join clubs and be updated with the latest information on cat husbandry.
- Have a good working relationship with your vet. Admit to yourself that you need professional help for your pets especially on time of emergencies. During breeding time, the vet will assist you on x-rays or abdominal palpations.
- Provide a good home. Although breeding cats and pet cats may serve different purposes, they both deserve a high-quality life. Note that breeding cats may have different behaviours (like spraying of males) because of hormones. You should meet their needs (like providing large waterproof cage and companions) to avoid depression and prepare them from breeding.
- Select the healthy and complimenting adult pair for mating. However, every breeder and veterinarian has his stand. Some skip the two heat cycles or wait for at least 18 months of age while others do not. Take into consideration the possible markings, traits and colour of the kittens. If one cat belongs to another owner, make sure to exchange medical records for complete safety, consult your vet and check the pedigree. It is better to bring the female to the male than the other way around.
- Consider the time. Only breed the female on the average of three in two-years time. The cat needs to recover from pregnancy and regain her health every after pregnancy and weaning. Make sure that she is not in contact with any unsterilized tom until then.
- Check the heat cycle of the queen. Cats are known to be polyestrus and can start to be in heat as early as 4 months old. She can be in heat every 3-7 weeks almost year-round. Heat cycles usually last for a week or so. When she is in estrus, accepting the tom will be no problem at all but be prepared for loud vocalizations. Blood is uncommon but vulvar mucous discharge can be seen during this time.
- Several factors affect the estrus period. These include individual differences, seasons, silent heat and geographical location. During this time, you can notice the queen’s change in behaviour like one-sided tail sweeping, spraying and standing still in front of the male with raised hindquarters.
- Mating time. The tom will court first the queen for few hours before mounting her from the rear area that can happen several times a day. Penetration will last for few seconds while the whole process will just take few minutes. Biting is commonly seen and is believed to promote ovulation. Ovulation will happen 20-50 hours after mating and eggs can be fertilized within a day (they are induced ovulators). The tom’s barbed penis serves the same function in ovulation. After reaction such as loud scream is also expected for few minutes.
- Staying with the stud. Some breeders prefer to make the queen accompanied by the chosen tom for 1-7 days. The shorter the time, the greater chance of determining the exact date of delivery that is essential for an operation. However, having more successful copulation will increase the chance of pregnancy.
- Multiple sires. Because cats have long estrus period and can have multiple ovulations, being pregnant by different toms are possible (super fecundation).
- Provide necessities. Aside from food, water, litter box and shelter, you should maintain good exercise by having scratching post for your pregnant Ragdoll cat. On the last few days of pregnancy, consult your vet for any change of diet and supplements (like KMR and calcium) as well as the frequency. Maintain your cat indoors.
- Prepare a private nesting area. You can place a box lined with towels or papers in your desired birthing place for your queen. It is at least 8 inches in height to keep the kittens inside. Make sure that it is warm and quiet enough to provide good rest as well as big enough for the average litter size of 6-8 for you Ragdoll cat.
- Monitor pregnancy. The average gestation period for cats is 60-67 days (average 63). Some signs of pregnancy at three weeks include weight gain, increase appetite, some vomiting and enlarged mammary glands. Note that cats can also have miscarriages, deformities and stillbirths that are greatly affected by age. Your vet can also perform ultrasound (day26), palpations (day16) and x-rays to confirm the litter size and health of the kittens. Some kittens can be delivered with the heads first while some have their tail-ends first. Round-headed cats have longer delivery time than pointed ones.
- Last few days. Confine her to the prepared area and clip the fur on the nipple and butt areas. Alert your vet for any emergency like inability to expel the kittens even with your assistance and distressed situations. This will require the cat to have a Caesarean section that will surely cost you money.
- Pre-labour time. During this period, you can observe nesting and change of behaviour. Loss of appetite, decreased activity, genital licking, milky discharge and drop in temperature (95 degrees Fahrenheit) are just some of the preliminary signs. You need to record the time of delivery, number of kittens/placenta so prepare a paper and pen. In case of your assistance is needed, prepare some towels, box for the kittens, small haemostat, doxapram from your vet, white iodine, clean thread, aspirator, weighing scale, market and lamp/heating pad. You also need to have access on the phone to inform the vet and for his instructions.
- Queening. This differs from one cat to another because some has an easy labour and others do not. It starts with contractions and expulsion of the first amniotic sac enclosing the kitten within an hour of active labour. The interval should be 10-60 minutes for each kitten and alert your vet if not or if the whole process exceeds 7 hours. However, some breeders encounter a total of at most 24 hours and longer intervals. The queen can rest in between, eat and nurse. She will remove the sac with her rough tongue, cut the umbilical cord at least 0.75 inches from the body and lick the face to stimulate circulation. The placenta will also be delivered afterwards and could be eaten by the mother or removed by you. You can count the number of placenta expelled that should be equal with the number of kittens. Encourage her continue the process by being on her side. If a kitten is stuck in the canal for at least 10 minutes, pull her carefully. If it is a stillborn, remove it and place away from the queen. You can have it examined for the cause later. You can assist on cleaning and stimulating the kittens with a towel or even removing the sac if ignored by the queen as well as the cutting the cord. Other vet emergencies include queen’s vaginal bleeding, high temperature and lethargy.
- Check the kittens. While the mother is in labour, place the kitten in the box with heating pad or lamp while monitoring the overall temperature (85-90 degrees Fahrenheit). See if every kitten is breathing normally and if not, you can swing them downwards with full assistance to the body and head or use the aspirator. Check also if they have a cleft palate. Their individual weight should be at least 3 ounces. Let the kittens start suckling the colostrums for the first 16 hours. However, if the kittens are premature and not suckling, you need to syringe-fed or stomach-fed them.
- Call your vet. The mother and kittens should be checked within 24 hours after queening for excessive bleeding, infection, hypocalcemia and oxytocin injection. Your vet will probably tell you the normal signs of post-delivery like bloody vaginal discharge for less than a week
- Welcome the kittens. The first few weeks of your kitten’s lives are crucial so keep an eye on them at all times. They will suckle every 2-3 hours on their preferred teat during the first few days and tend to sleep more. The mother will clean their feces and urine by licking. Provide them a quiet and warm place to settle in. You will be surely attached with these furry babies. However, bear in mind that after few months, you need to let them go.
- Spare the mother. Make sure that the nursing cat is not in contact with any tom to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
- Register the litter. This is for you and your future buyer’s benefit. You also need to familiarize yourself with the law to ensure that you will meet the requirements for keeping a number of pets. Visit an accountant to have your business managed and for tax payment.
- Maintain a healthy cattery. Wean kittens starting 4 weeks, socialize them, have regular check-ups with the vet and find them a good home.