I think that is something very important, especially when you focus on the reproductive career of your male and female cats. Today, I give you my thoughts on what this should include. And look at this queen here, she looks quite relaxed isn’t she ? So am showing you that because, the reproductive career, again as I said, you need to focus on the word “career”. And that is something important because during a career, many things can happen. And it is important to do, in my opinion, regular check-ups to make sure that everything is ok on the genital tract, to make sure that the reproductive health of your animals is optimal. So this can start by doing a physical examination when you visit your veterinarian once or twice a year.
This is important because your veterinarian will be able to evaluate the general health of your cat. Rule of thumb : only breed cats which are healthy. They will also be able to have a look at the external genital tract, which is essential in breeding cats. External genital tract means the penis, the testes, the vulva and the mammary glands. Those are the things that need to be focused on during those physical exams. To make sure there is no abnormality etc. When it comes to the penis and the vulva it is important in long hair breeds to make sure that there are no hair plugs around those organs because if there are hair plugs this can be a problem for breeding, a problem for parturition and one thing important to focus on males as well is oral health.
So take a look in the oral cavity of your male. Make sure they don’t have tartar, they don’t have gingivitis because you know when they breed, the male will bite the neck of the female. And this will immobilize the female so that the male can actually breed. If he has gingivitis, he might not be able to breed properly. If he cannot breed, if the female is not immobilized, he will not be able to breed. And that could be a cause of infertility. That’s why the routine physical exam is important because this will give you this information. I think blood work are great tools, especially when you want to assess if all the internal organs are ok like the kidneys and the liver etc. But I must admit that when it comes to reproductive health, and regular check-ups regarding reproductive health, it might not be always something so important.
I mean it is important to make sure that the animals are healthy, are in good health, but the blood work will not give you any indication on what is happening in the genital tract. You want to know what is happening in the genital tract and the test that will tell you about this, is this one : ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are a fantastic tool, and today in veterinary medicine we use them more and more. So this imaging technique will give you access to the uterus, your veterinarian will be able to visualize the uterus of the queen to see if there are uterine cysts, if there is what we call cystic endometrial hyperplasia, if there is a mucometra which is liquid inside the uterus. And those are common causes of infertility in queens.
Many of those diseases are preventable, many of those diseases can be medically treated. So if they are detected earlier on, then they will have very little impact on the fertility. So do not hesitate to team up with your veterinarian, and discuss this with them. Discuss with them how you can follow up your animals and the reproductive health of your animals. The good news is that today we have tools in veterinary medicine that can help us do so. And that is a great plus for your breeding animals.
The Cat Reproductive Career
We are going to discuss when we should stop the breeding career. And again, we are going to do that through a clinical case. This queen as you can see here she is waking up from a c-section. And you can see the kittens here. This queen, she was brought to us because again, she had difficulties to give birth. She had 4 kittens. And well, same thing : we assessed the case, we did the C-section, we gave birth to healthy kittens, everything went fine, she went back home and everything was ok. But the thing here is : this queen was 9 years old. So she was not a purebred queen, she was a feral queen and the owners did not spay her. She was bred by a male outside certainly.
And she got pregnant. Remember, there is no menopause in queens. As long as they have ovaries, they can cycle. And if they ovulate, if they are bred, they can get pregnant. The problem is that after a certain age, because of aging, the muscles lose their ability to properly contract. So the uterine contractions especially in this case are weaker. So in older queens, weaker uterine contractions increases the risk of dystocia, increases the risk of difficulties to give birth. And this increases the risk of ending up performing a c-section. And also an increase rate of neonatal mortality. So typically we do not recommend to breed queens after 6-7 years of age because we know this is typically when we will start seeing those issues and when they will become more common.