Girls of the Gang - Females in a Breeding Program
By Alon Bigler
It is often noted that females in a breeding program can be of slightly lesser quality in regards to standard. Is it really so? If it isnít, why? And why is it heard so often then?
It is often noted that breeder quality is a measurement made for females, and that a breeder can be slightly more permissive in regards to standard when coming to choose his/her breeding girls for his/her program. Let me start by stating that as a general assumption this is not true. It is important to point that a female has the exact same amount of influence on the kitten's looks, health, and genetic makeup as the male! A female contributes to her kittens 50% of her genes, so there is no basis to believe a female's quality is less important than the male's in your quest to produce the perfect Persian. So why do breeders still claim this sometimes, and why do breeders use the 'breeder' definition mostly if not exclusively on girls?
If you have read the article in the male's page, you probably know that the natural behavior of the male stud makes it almost impossible for a small cattery to handle more than one or two stud cats. You may also know by now that in order to feel content a stud cat needs to have at least two if not three females in his harem. Females, on the other hand, are rather flexible when coming to live with other cats, and although they are still territorial animals, they quite easily adapt to living in groups. Farm cat females in a natural environment were even watched nursing each other's kittens and helping one another give birth, so bringing all these facts together makes one realize a small breeder can and needs to actually have at least twice as many females than males.
The larger the number the cats you can properly house and care for without getting too much stress, the larger the flexibility in your breeding program. So although one should strive for the best queens possible, one can still leave some room and 'give a shot' to a few queens that are really nice, and yet maybe not as 'finely tuned' to show as a proper show cat.
It is also important to remember a few facts of life when criticizing a breeder's choice of females. First of all, females in all breeding programs are twice as many, females are almost always in high demand - something that can make a new breeder's life very difficult when coming to choose a high quality female from specific lines. Show quality females can be very hard to get, and a long wait may be needed.
Secondly, most breeders are financially limited in one way or the other. So although in an ideal world one would want to get the best females, many breeders find that they need to use their flexibility margin in order to give a shot to breeder quality girls so they can manage their expenses and budget.
A few tips for choosing a breeding girl:
- Many breeders realize in time, that some breeder quality girls may produce better quality kittens when bred to their specific males than a specific show quality girl who comes from different lines. Try and study pedigrees well before choosing a girl. Some lines 'mesh' better than others, and slightly closer lines usually produce more consistently. Try and do your homework well if you know you need to choose a breeder quality (or any quality) girl. Ask breeders and your mentors about the pedigrees. It will usually be worth your while.
- Look for a strong show pedigree. I have already mentioned pedigrees on my first tip, but this one refers to show consistency. If a girl is not of show quality herself, she better have a strong pedigree with many top show cats in it to ensure she at least carries the genes for show type.
- Upgrade. A breeding program constantly evolves, and better cats are born every day. Females, on the other hand, cannot breed forever. They should be bred once a year if possible and retire somewhere between the ages 4-6, otherwise it can take a heavy toll on their health. This gives you the opportunity to keep a successor to the girl from her own breeding that is of show quality, and gives a breeding queen the opportunity to retire to a home where she is a pampered princess. A girl that retires early is a happier pet so 'learn to let go', when it comes to girls.