The Mating Game

Getting two cats to mate is easy, our first cat a little grey tabby would go outside when she was in season and a line of Tomcats would chase her around ours and the neighbours gardens until somewhere private like behind the coal bunker the mating would take place. Nine weeks later she would give birth to a litter of pretty coloured kittens which when they grew up we would give to friends and relatives. We even had a waiting list specifying colours wanted. After the third litter we realised that our friends and to some degree our family was beginning to avoid us so we had her neutered.

A few years later and a move to a large Victorian house we decided to buy a little Siamese girl cat with the intention of breeding some pedigree kittens. This time getting a cat mated was even easier, we would phone the person who owned the stud cat and make a provisional booking and Mistral a chocolate point Siamese would let me know when she was in season by crouching down and doing a fertility dance in front of me, before offering herself to me. Quickly putting her in a carrying box after a telephone call to the stud cat’s owner we would set off and leave her with her chosen partner. Again nine weeks later we would have a beautiful litter of pointed Siamese kittens (nearly as beautiful as an Aby) to gaze upon and love with our clever little girl.

In this house we had installed a Rayburn cooker during our renovations, inside an inglenook in the large dining room. This was ideal for rearing kittens, as they were warm and safe in a box alongside the cooker, allowing mum to wander about doing the things that cats do. We went on to breed four litters with her totalling some 15 kittens. We were upset in that in the second and third litters we had a kitten die for no apparent reason as soon as it was weaned. The last one I took to the vets for a post mortem, which he concluded was due to a hole in the heart and felt that it was probably an inherited characteristic from the mother cat. This diagnosis was confirmed by a lady from the Siamese Cat Association, to whom we spoke. Mistral was neutered.

Another change of house gave us a fresh chance to have a little breeding queen. We bought a pedigree Burmese Adquabu Jojoba whom we called Jade, we thought that we would carry on where we had left off with the Siamese. How wrong we were. When she came into season Jade was like a wild thing, we had already spoken to a lady in Sutton Coldfield who had a stud cat and had arranged for Jade to have her examination and blood test prior to mating. That night she unhooked the kitchen window and made her own secret arrangements. Nine weeks later she produced 5 beautiful kittens Black, Black and White and a beautiful Blue girl who we called Sapphire and kept. We kept the kittens until they were big enough to go to a new home and I think we charged £25 each for them, they went like the proverbial hot cakes.

Next season we kept a tight grip on Jade who rewarded us by dismantling the lockable cat flap and again she made her own private arrangements. This time the little cat was so full of kittens it was obvious that when she started labour that she could not push them. A visit to the vet who performed a caesarean section and phoned to say that he delivered 12 kittens, two were mummified, one had died in the birth canal and one was mis-formed so had been put to sleep. Jade remarkably reared the eight survivors using a clever technique, two nests were made by her on different sides of the sitting room, one lot she fed and cleaned up, she then attended to her own needs and had a nap and then went across to the other nest where she fed the second cache. As each set of kittens fed some time apart she reared then all without any trouble. We advertised the kittens when they were old enough to leave home and again made a charge for them, we were pulled out of the house. Three families wanted a pair and the last two went to separate owners. We had enough of her mating preferences so had her neutered.

To date we have bred no other kittens but so enraptured by Abyssinian Agapae Boreas we persuaded Mrs Gear to sell us a female kitten of breeding quality when she bred another litter. The arrival in our house of Agapae Circe has been detailed elsewhere but now here was a chance to breed some more kittens. Did I say it was easy?

Aged exactly six months “Florence” as we called her came into season, her calling certainly confused the two boys. Mindful of the advice we had been given that she should not have a litter until she was at least one we endured her calling every few weeks, this had quite a physical effect on her development, as she looked like a little waif, skinny and pale. This routine continued until she was exactly one year old (by now the days were shortening) when she abruptly stopped calling. This quiet period allowed her to grow and also to muscle up. She looked more like the sort of little girl cat we expected.

We made a decision to book our first holiday for five years and the morning we took all three of them to the cattery she started calling. There was no mention of her being in season by the Cattery Owner so we suspected that with the change of venue and temperature she must have stopped. Early in December she started to call again, we made a phone call to the vets to book some blood tests and then a phone call to the owners of the chosen stud cat. Everything was going absolutely swimmingly, suddenly the Stud Cat Owner asked when her vaccination was due, oh about the beginning of January 2012 I replied, is that a problem? The answer was yes. My education was completed and it was suggested that I phone our vet to see if he would agree that we should let her vaccination lapse until we had weaned the kittens.

I now made the sort of phone call that gets one noted for posterity: “Hello, this is Richard Barker, I want to mate my cat!”

Definitely not. Well here we are in 2012, the days are lengthening, our hens have started laying again and still no signs of her coming into season. Ah well as I said mating cats is easy.

Richard & Ann Barker