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Breeding cats - Keeping a Stud Cat

Breeding cats - Keeping a Stud Cat

Once you have been successfully breeding pedigree cats for some time, you may start thinking about whether you would like to keep your own stud cat, although there are many things to take into consideration first. An entire male cat is nothing like his neutered counterpart in terms of characteristics, whatever the breed, and is definitely not to be considered by the novice breeder.

Unless you have bred a male kitten yourself (and even then, there may have been conditions attached to the results of the mating by the owner of your kitten's sire) you will need to convince the kitten's breeder that you are ready to keep an entire male at stud as the kitten will need to be placed on the Active Register. Breeders who are registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) sell their kittens either on the Active or the Non-Active register - 'Active' means that the cat may be bred from, and all resulting kittens may also be registered with the GCCF. 'Non-active' means that the breeder is asking you not to breed with this particular cat, which could be for a wide variety of reasons, but precludes any further progeny being registered.

Some breeders register their kittens only with The International Cat Association (TICA), although this is not all that common in the UK, but they also have a policy of registering kittens as 'Not for Breeding', for similar reasons to GCCF breeders, and you can check the TICA website for more information. There is also the international Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe), known in the UK as Felis Britannica (FB), whose individual clubs register members' cats, and again, more information may be found on their website.

You should only keep an entire male for stud purposes, as they do not make good family pets. Once they start to mature and reach around six months old (and the age of maturity does vary between the different breeds) they may well begin to spray around your home to mark their territory. They may also start to develop territorial behaviour typical of an adult male cat, which might include fighting with your other indoor-based cats and trying to mate any entire females, even younger kittens. If you let them out of doors, they will almost certainly wander off for several days at a time in search of females, and may return home injured if they become involved in a fight with the neighbourhood 'tom cat'.

You will also need to consider if you have enough un-related breeding queens to keep your stud happy, and also whether he will be at 'closed' stud (for just yourself and a few chosen fellow breeders) or at 'open' stud, when you accept outside queens provided that they meet your criteria for prior testing (usually FIV& FELV) and any other conditions you have stipulated.

You will presumably have given very careful thought to keeping a stud cat by the time your kitten starts to mature, and will already have his own home ready for him in your garden. You may feel that you do not want your new kitten to live out in his own house, but it is much better if you get them used to it around the age of six months, maybe initially with a neutered companion.

Although a stud house may look rather like a garden shed from the outside, inside it will be a palatial dwelling for your very special cat. The inside walls should be lined with a gap between the lining and the outer wall for insulation (rather like your own cavity walls) and the covering should be plastic coated or a surface that can be easily wiped as he will spray his house to make it feel like his own space. You should have an electricity supply to the stud house, as you will need lighting and heating, with its separate supply and RCD circuit breaker so that if there are any unforeseen problems your home will not be fused as well. Heating can be provided by means of an oil-filled heater and also an overhead heated lamp (obtainable from suppliers of poultry houses), and can be plugged into power socket thermostats, so that the heating will come on or go off automatically when the air reaches a certain temperature. You should position any power sockets high up, so that they cannot be sprayed. The inside of the house should also have a compartment that can be separated when your stud has a visiting queen, and should be made nice and cosy for his visitors.

The stud house should have windows that open onto an attached paved run, with mesh sides and top. Your stud cat may spend considerable time on his own, although some studs may enjoy the company of an older and calm neutered cat. He will also appreciate toys to play with and some kind of wooden structure in the run that he can climb onto and lie out in the sun. Your own entrance to the house will probably be via a door into the run, and then into his house, so that the run also serves as a security area to prevent him rushing out into the garden. There are many commercial providers of cat houses, and if you go to a large cat show, such as the GCCF Supreme Cat Show at the NEC in November (the feline 'Crufts') you will be able to look at designs and talk to some of the suppliers.

You will need to spend considerable time with your stud cat, and ideally he will be able to see you from the window of his house. Although entire male cats are not pets, you will undoubtedly form a very strong rapport with him, and he will be very affectionate towards you, apart from when he has visiting queens when his focus will be elsewhere. You will also need to supervise all the mating's, which can sometimes mean sitting out in your stud house on a garden chair for considerable amounts of time.

If you like to go away on holiday, you will probably need to make special arrangements for your stud to be looked after at home. Most boarding catteries will not take entire male cats because of the pungent smell that they can produce, together with their voices, which are often quite loud depending on the breed.

You may well choose to show your stud cat, and he will probably be perfectly behaved at a show where he is not on his own territory, although adjacent entire males of females penned close to him may unsettle him a bit. If you choose to have him at 'open' stud he will certainly attract more 'work' if he is shown and attains the title of Champion, Grand Champion or Imperial Grand Champion at a GCCF show. This will also have the added advantage of helping to sell your kittens as potential purchasers may well see him and want one of his offspring in due course.