Cat Breeding - Getting Started

Cat Breeding - Getting Started

Breed Facts

Having weighed up all the considerations and decided that breeding from your female cat (known as a 'queen') is for you, and will fit in with your existing lifestyle, you should do plenty of research when choosing a stud cat to mate her to, as well as making contact with the stud owner well in advance. Make sure you have transferred the registration of your cat into your own name when she is a kitten, as it is the registered owner of the queen at the time the kittens are born who will be recorded as the breeder of your new kittens! You will need to look at the stud cat's pedigree to ensure that there is not going to be any inbreeding, and any reputable stud owner will want to see your cat's pedigree too before he or she agrees. You must also look at the list of 'Suspended' breeders on the website of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) and check that the stud owner is not listed - if by any chance they are, you must not use their stud.

Do not choose the nearest stud cat simply because he is on your doorstep, but look instead at pedigrees and also consider any shortcomings that your cat has that could possibly be counterbalanced by using a good match. Maybe your queen doesn't have particularly good eye colour, or perhaps her head is a bit long or short for your chosen breed - chose a stud that displays the features your girl is missing. Assuming you do not have your own male cat (and this is definitely not an area for novice breeders), you will need to pay stud fees and probably travelling expenses to reach the male of your choice.

The owner of your chosen stud cat will want to see proof of your queen's 'Active' registration status, (shown on your registration papers), which will indicate that the breeder has agreed that you may use your cat for breeding. A reputable stud owner will not go against the decision of another breeder, and you would not be allowed to register the kittens in any case if the cat is on the 'Non-Active' register. As well as keeping your cats vaccinated as a responsible owner, the stud owner should also ask you to have your female cat tested for FELV/FIV by your vet within 24 hours of taking her to stud, and will want to see the certificates - be very cautious if this does not happen. A stud owner whose male is registered with the GCCF will almost certainly only accept a queen that is also GCCF-registered. However, this is not as one-sided as it might sound, and you should also check that the stud has a 'Certificate of Entirety', proving that he is a full male, and not a monorchid (one testicle) or crytorchid (neither testicle has descended) which would affect his potency and ability to impregnate your female.

All this paperwork might sound rather complicated, but any well-established breeder, maybe the one from whom you acquired your female kitten, or the stud owner, will be able to explain it all to you if you are new to breeding. If you also visit a few cat shows, you will undoubtedly get chatting to other breeders who will be willing to go through it with you. You may feel it is a bit daunting, and you cannot see the point of it all, but the guidelines are there to protect you as a new breeder as well as the long-established breeders, and to encourage the breeding of strong healthy kittens. Once you've dealt with it all once, it will become automatic for your future litters!

You should ring your stud owner as soon as your queen starts calling for a mate, and take her to the vet for her tests. When you arrive at the stud owner's house (and bear in mind that they may not be too keen on you arriving too late at night!) the stud owner will take your queen to the stud house where she will be put in a separate compartment where she and her new mate can see each other, and sniff each other through the wire. You will be expected to leave your girl there for about three days or so, and once the two cats have become acquainted, they will be allowed in together, but you will be able to ring the stud owner to see how things are going and to ask about the well being of your queen. Hopefully all will go to plan and they will mate, but under the watchful eye of the stud owner who will probably separate them once they have mated, as the female often then attacks the male.

The stud owner will give you a mating certificate, giving you the expected dates for the birth of your kittens (approximately 65 days after the mating) - but if for some reason she has not conceived, most stud owners will allow you another mating, free of charge, although you will probably need to get fresh FIE/FELV tests done. You should be able to tell after about three weeks if your queen is pregnant as her nipples will become very pink (known as 'pinking up'), and if she isn't, she will also start to call for a mate again very soon - this will not happen if she has conceived. If you have to go back to the stud and your cat still isn't pregnant, you may need to try another stud, and if that still doesn't work, it would be advisable to get your vet to check her over in case there's a problem. A few cats just don't breed, and there is no obvious reason for it, in which case you would be best to have your female spayed.

Assuming your female cat is pregnant, you will need to decide where you would like your cat to have her kittens, although she may think otherwise and start making a nest in the airing cupboard, under your bed or even in the wardrobe! It does need to be somewhere accessible in case she has problems and you need to be able to help her, and you should certainly aim to sit with her unobtrusively during the birth. As the time comes closer to the anticipated birth, she will want to spend more and more time in her birthing nest, and may well chase your other cats away. She will like somewhere warm and dark, away from her feline companions where she feels safe, and although you can buy elaborate kittening boxes, a humble cardboard box with plenty of cosy bedding which should be either washable or disposable, will often do just as well. She will also need her nest to be warm, so a well-covered hot water bottle should do the trick, although commercially manufactured kittening boxes may have a heated lamp, or maybe a false floor with a couple of light bulbs underneath to transmit a gentle heat.

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