Think of your first cat(s). Maybe this goes way back, probably even during your childhood. And at this time, if you had been asked “ Do you believe it is difficult for cats to have kittens ?”, what would have been your answer ? In can tell you that for me, for a long long time, I never really thought it was the case. I grew up on a tropical island and my grand-mother was the poster picture of what is now depicted as a « crazy cat lady ». We had lots of cats at time and in a place where feline population control was just a vague idea. Cats proliferated. In the 17 years I spent on my island, I probably saw lots of litters. No kidding here.
We learn as we go. When I started working with cat breeders, I found out what the situation really was. Fertility – and cat breeding in general – can be tricky. For a cat breeder, there stand several challenges. And knowing about those is crucial : cat breeding – and associated genetic selection programs – relies on reproductive success. And the simple equation that is displayed on the slide above, well, is usually not that simple !
We could indeed factor in several variables :
– Fertility parameters : we need the male to produce many normal & motile spermatozoa to fertilize the eggs the female ovulates. And we need the female to ovulate good quality eggs that are fertilizable.
– Anything that relates to breeding per se : we indeed need those gametes to meet at the right time in order to optimize the fertilization process. Fertility is about combining female and male factors together to obtain the best result. In my opinion, that is an important concept to grasp, since in the real world, we often tend to blame one of the two partners for the infertility issues that are encountered. While in fact, fertility is always a couple’s matter.
– There is however more to it: the effects of the surrounding environment the cats live in bring an additional layer of complexity we often tend to overlook. In multi-cat households, housing conditions & stress do have an influence on the breeding success.
You understand : the equation is complex. You understand : breeding cats can sometimes be a challenge.