Tips & Tricks to Optimize Breeding Success in Cats : Q&A from our last webinar !

We had yesterday our first webinar series of the year, focusing on feline reproduction ! And it ended being a great interactive & online conversation with passionate cat breeders from all over the world ! I can tell you I really enjoyed it a lot ! You guys were really active on the chat, and we got lots of questions ! As promised, you will find our our written answers below. And if you have more, don't hesitate to ask them on this forum ! 

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So more melatonin will increase queens coming into heat?


Actually it is quite the opposite. Melatonin is secreted in the brain during the night. The longer the night, the more melatonin is produced. The more melatonin, the more it inhibits the reproductive function. It is important to keep in mind this is how cats work. In sheep for instance (another species which is sensitive to the amount of daylight), it is the total opposite !  

When it comes to light protocol, do we need to look for natural light or artificial light or both ?


The type of light (artificial or natural) does not matter that much, what really matters is the light intensity the cats are exposed to. If you don’t have any difficulty reading your newspaper inside the cattery, it means the cats are exposed to the right amount of light.


You can find more info on light protocols here :

Is there an age when the cat is too old to have her first litter?


We usually do not recommend to breed the queen after 6-7 years of age, because of the higher risk of encountering difficulties to give birth. That being said, I have never read any study focusing on what the maximal age a queen should be before she has her first litter. In dogs, it has been shown that they should have their first litter before 4 years of age, but I’ve never read anything similar in cats so far.

Do you think that this 8h of light of day rule works even for Siamese and other oriental cats?


Very good point ! Some cats  indeed do not respond to light protocols, and there is clearly a breed effect.


90% of Persians for instance will respond to light protocols. While for Siamese, it will only be 50% of them !

What about the Melatonin implants ?


There have been several scientific publications on the use of melatonin implants to suppress heats in queens. And the results are encouraging and interesting ! Inside the e-book you will receive after the webinar, I put the links of the more recent studies that have been done on this topic. I think where melatonin implants are available, they might be an interesting option to consider after discussing it with your veterinarian. One implant usually suppresses reproductive activity for around 3 months, and no side effects have been reported to my knowledge.

How would you collect the semen in cats ?


The answer in this blog here :

What to do with a female who doesn't get pregnant (even when bred properly) ?


After making sure that she was bred properly and that a sufficient amount of breedings were observed, we usually recommend :

-          To confirm ovulation (easily done with progesterone assays) ;

-          Perform an ultrasounds to assess the health of the internal genital tract ;

-          Screen for the most common infectious diseases that can lead to infertility in cats (especially FelV).


We discussed this in more details in a previous webinar, it can be watched here :

How often can you breed your queen ?


We usually recommend no more than 4-5 breedings in the queen’s life. What is of the outmost importance however is that the queen is in optimal body condition before she is bred. As long as she is at her optimal weight, there is no contra-indication.

We discuss this in this post (it was written for dogs but the same concept applies to cats ) :

What’ s a good age to start breeding ?


We usually recommend to start breeding when the queen reaches her adult size. This will minimize the risks of dealing with a difficult birth. 

What are the places in USA that can do artificial insemination?


There are very few clinics that are offering this service today. I would suggest to ask veterinarians who have a special interest in reproduction, you can find them here

In the study you showed on artificial insemination, was it frozen semen that was used ? How many kittens did the cats in the study have with the AI?


You can access the abstract of the study here :


We moved to a new place and my girls have yet to come in heat (moved in November) - any thoughts ?


Hard to say for sure but my guess would be it could be related to stress. Sometimes, moving to a new environment could be perceived as a stress by the animals and it might delay the reproductive activity. As soon as they get used to the new place, things should settle in. If it persists for too long however, I would definitely recommend consulting with your veterinarian just to make sure everything is in order. 

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