The breeding of pedigreed cats is an exciting pastime and the breeder will find it both a rewarding endeavour as well as a learning experience. The successful start of a breeding program, however, involves some considerable challenges. One of them is earning the trust of established reputable breeders and the obtaining of quality cats for breeding stock, as they will guarantee their lines. Professional breeders will make sure that only proper breeding stock will go to a beginning breeder. Established breeders receive many requests for breeding stock and will select only those other breeders, which will do credit to their lines. The CRCC encourages co-operation between breeders in hopes of raising the quality of the Cornish Rex breed in Canada.
The aim of this article is to help first-time breeders get a good start. Starting a cattery requires preparation and planning, this type of project leaves little room for error. New breeders should familiarize themselves with the breed, have a space which lends itself to raising cats, all necessary supplies, as well as sufficient funds to take care of unexpected expenses. Lack of adequate preparation can result in an unpleasant situation for both the breeder as well as their cats.
According to the CRCC, here are some questions to ask yourself as a new breeder before making any investment:
- Am I ready to invest money?
Even professional breeders will need several years to become established after first starting their breeding program, oftentimes the associated expenses will easily exceed any income. The new breeder’s financial resources should be enough to absorb a few years’ losses without the cats’ health being affected. It is nevertheless possible for the breeder to continue to sustain losses for a few years following the start of the cattery as a result of experiencing unseen illness, or events beyond their control (e.g. death of breeding stock, theft, Caesarean section birth(s), and so on). It is equally important to realize that obtaining quality breeding stock at home or abroad is an expensive endeavour. Attaining a balanced budget is possible but it should be kept in mind that a breeding program may remain only a treasured hobby and never become a lucrative project.
- Am I sure that I want to stay with the breed I’ve started with?
It is not a rare thing that breeders, having begun with one breed, change their mind and want to switch to another. Although this occurrence is not an earth-shaking event, it might have been worthwhile to think more about the first choice before taking the plunge. One crucial factor to be considered is the breeder’s preference versus market supply and demand for that particular breed. Is the market already saturated?
The novice breeder should also be aware that at present there are certain lines within the Cornish Rex breed that do not conform closely to the Cornish Rex breed standard. In choosing the Cornish Rex, they should be aware that there is room for improvement in the breed; many cats have been produced without due regard for the breed standard.
A new breeder with insight might already have considered the possibility of other breeds in Canada, breeds which might benefit from breeder attention, and that are becoming popular.
To find out about breeds in Canada, the following sources may be consulted:
- Am I ready and willing to work as part of a team?
“Co-operation” is a word which is becoming popular among CRCC members. Although each breeder runs their cattery according to their own breeding plan, certain aspects of breeding are better approached by a group in order to obtain a common goal of improving the breed in Canada. Thus, a breeder who decides to do only what they see fit without considering the needs of both the breed and the breed association risks seeing doors closed to them.
- What laws and rules do I need to know?
It is absolutely indispensable to every new breeder, and certainly necessary to breeders as a group, to learn how to organize the running of a cattery. By the same token the breeder ought to conform to the legal obligations and ethics put in place by the province, or territory, breed association, and breed club.
- What about pedigrees and registration?
To raise purebred cats, the cats should be registered according to a recognize feline association. Chats Canada Cats (CCC) and the Canadian Cat Association (CCA) are two associations active in Canada. All the other associations (TICA, CFA, LOOF, WCF, etc.) are based out of the country and their cats and kittens do not appear in Canadian Registries. The CCA and the CCC differ from the other organizations in terms of the core principles and values. The beginner breeder should choose their association with care and inform themselves by asking questions. The beginner breeder must also choose and reserve a name for their cattery in order to be able to register their breeding stock and resulting kittens. It would be recommended that the breeder, who wishes to show internationally, register breeding stock with an international association, as well.
For more information about different associations:
- Is my cattery at risk for diseases?
Although all breeding programs are potentially at risk, the risk increases if the breeder is badly informed on the ways infection is spread, on protocols of disinfection, segregation, quarantine, and treatments. Moreover, a breeder who is not aware of genetic problems connected to his breed, and who does not research any inherent problems, is putting themselves at serious risk. The breeder should develop cat health protocols and do their best to maintain them.
Several resources available to breeders are available:
- What is a [breed] standard?
The standard of a breed refers to the total physical attributes of a breed taken together along with non-physical attributes such as temperament, and attractiveness, shown by individuals belonging to a particular breed. The standard is produced by agreement on the total of the attributes displayed by a given breed, in this case the Cornish Rex.
For the development of a quality breed line the beginner breeder should make an effort to study, learn, and analyze the breed standard, at the same time consulting established standards of various international associations. It would be advantageous to compare images, talk to other breeders, and participate in cat shows to get opinions from qualified judges. An opinion which brings to light a fault is after all nothing but a constructive criticism which hopefully helps the beginner breeder meet the required standard.
Temperament figures equally in the breed standard. Cats’ attitudes, and their ability to integrate well into a new environment, play an equal part in the responsibilities of a beginner breeder. The successful integration of their cats is a measure of how well a breeder understands cat psychology, as well as their interests and efforts in enriching the quality of life of their cats.
The Cornish Rex standard has a different definition in breed associations in different parts of the world:
- Where should I look to find information?
CRCC offers an ever-growing source of information, and provides a place where breeders may share ways of breed improvement.
It is in the interests of the beginning breeder to find a mentor to provide guidance both during and following the beginning of a breeding program. Continuing to follow the guidance of the mentor will help the novice avoid errors, find never-fail shortcuts, or early recognition of problems. No one gets ahead by trying to go it alone. A pat on the back, a welcome word of advice can make a world of difference to the success of a breeding program.
Note: In the interests of fairness all web addresses have been given in alphabetical order.
© All rights reserved. This document is the property of the CRCC – the Cornish Rex Club of Canada.