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Breeding Systems and
How they Guide Your Breeding Program

Any breeding systems no matter what the species comes with strong recommendations to have a plan. 

  • Know what you are breeding for. 
  • Do you want to breed top show cats? 
  • If so would you be selling those kittens or competing yourself and at what level? 
  • Are you looking for a particular color established in your breed or perhaps you want to get closer to the standard simply for the satisfaction of doing so and spending time with cats.

Whatever your reasons for breeding have them clear in your mind. There are so many ways to get there and even experienced breeders – of all species! – argue the benefits and detriment of each. A wise horseman noted once that a particular horse traced to a single stallion on both sides of his pedigree and said if it was a nick that worked its line breeding and if it didn’t then it’s inbreeding. Some rabbit breeders will breed relatives to try to fix a certain color or to see genetically what the animal might be.

Of course we don’t ride cats nor do we eat them when the cross doesn’t work! For this reason cat breeders give careful consideration to the breeding systems of close breeding, line breeding, line crossing and outcrossing.

Close breeding or inbreeding examples are
  • mother to son, 
  • full siblings, 
  • father to daughter or 
  • grandchildren to grandparents. 
This can fix certain traits genetically and increases homozygous traits. However it can also bring out the weak genes and create a lack of health and thriftiness that medicine can’t overcome. Too much close blood can result in an increase in congenital problems, smaller litters, smaller adults, lower fertility, immune diseases and losing more to disease due to decreased immunity. This is true whether it is cats, cattle, rabbits or any other animal.

Linebreeding too can bring out the same problems but allows for more genetic differences than close breeding. Linebreeding uses animals that may be related but are more distantly so – perhaps sharing a grandsire or great granddam.

Linecrossing is using good animals that are of different bloodlines. This can maintain the vigor needed genetically and produce top quality animals, although some argue it takes longer to achieve than through linebreeding. It takes more effort and a longer time to get those top quality animals than with linebreeding or inbreeding.

Outcrossing or crossbreeding increases hybrid vigor as you’re using two different breeds. However, one must then create a cat that is consistent in look or it is just producing crossbred cats. Some dog breeds have been big examples of this when it’s a breeding just for money. Keep in mind too that with those weak genes if those match up it still results in genetically weak animals.

Looking closely at your goals directs your breeding program in a way to make decisions to reach those goals! Select well, choose carefully and have a plan in your breeding systems!

Read more: Record Keeping Is Important
Record keeping can take on a new importance if you are thinking about raising purebred cats. You can save yourself from future headache by having a systematic and accurate records.

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