|Posted on March 13, 2019 at 2:35 AM||comments (4)|
Since introducing "WHITES" into my program in 2010, I am often asked about the genetics behind them & at times what the funny coloured spot is on some of their heads.
Most people believe "white" is a colour when in essence it is actually a "mask" or "cloak" caused by the dominant white gene genetically. The gene that makes cats appear white actually is masking the TRUE colour & even TRUE pattern of the cat!
The white cat can either pass their true colour/pattern to their offspring, or their true colour plus the masking gene, making them white as well. This is why you may see me at times saying White masking Black. So lets have a look at what this phrase would actually mean.
A White masking Black would mean that to look at the cat (phenotype) it appears white, however genetically it would mean that it is in fact a black cat. So lets say for example we bred a white masking black to a black, offspring would be either black or white masking black. Now of course if both parents carried a copy of the dilute gene well then we would have blacks, blues, and white progeny. The list is endless as to what these white darlings can be masking both colour & pattern wise.
So how does one find out what their little white prince or princess is masking?
We have a few options. If we know both the parents colours including what the white parent was masking we may be able to narrow it down, like I did in the above example. Sometimes we can utilise DNA testing to find out & narrow the options down. Sometimes we must rely on a test mating to prove or disprove our guesses. But in other times we may have a baby born with coloured hairs on top of their head known as a "kitten spot" or a "skull cap" These kitten spots can vary in size from being 3 hairs, or it can be a small spot, or even quite a large patch. These little skull caps disappear as the kitten ages, so once an adult your babies head will be pure white.
So if you have a white cat do you know what she is hiding?
|Posted on July 30, 2017 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
Do you think buying a kitten from a breeder is expensive? Do you believe that breeders make a lot of money from their kittens?
Have a read of the below and you may change your mind.....
Just to become a registered breeder costs a considerable amount of money in set up and registration fees with the relevant cat clubs and the local area council. To remain registered has yearly costs also.
If done correctly it will take months of research and hunting to purchase a suitable breeding female cat from a registered breeder in order to get started. This is a really tough and time consuming thing. For starters many breeders won't sell to other/new breeders due to the fact they are under restrictions or just choose not to sell breeding cats. Once a potential breeder manages to establish a relationship and build up the trust of a breeder willing to sell them a breeding cat, (which has usually taken months of phone calls to various breeders, driving out meeting them and determining if their kittens meet the desired traits of what the new breeder is looking for) the new breeder is then looking at a MINIMUM of $1000 just to purchase the breeding girl. Some persian breeders pay up to $3,500 for breeding stock. Obviously some breeds of cat can cost even more than this. An imported breeding cat can cost $10K+ Then the cost of keeping new cat in quarintine until you can ascertain health status or tests are carried out.
Assume for a moment the breeder doesn't own their own stud (If they do they most likely have paid $1000+ for the privilege and need to offer suitable housing for an entire male that is likely to mark his territory) or that in order to develop their lines and not linebreed their cats too closely they have used a mating to a stud boy owned by another breeder - this mating will cost about the cost of a kitten (Approx $450-$550). Add on to that the cost required tests, petrol, tolls and time dropping of and picking up the queen from the Stud boy - Consequently a mating alone an set a breeder back an easy $1000 dollars before the mating is even confirmed successful and the kittens have arrived.
During pregnancy Queens need extra TLC including special food and often vet care. At times they may need Ultrasounds which cost hundreds of dollars, medications to ensure healthy kittens etc etc
Persian & Exotics cannot be left to birth on their own like some other breeds so from when their temp drops or from day 62 from mating I am on constant watch, checking them every half hour thru the day, waking every hour or two or having them supervised or sometimes all nighters if labour seems close. This means for me no plans, no events, no leaving house apart from school run and having another family member on call should my queen decide to go into labour right at that time. Leaving queens unattended can result in complications and death. Thank goodness I have my own business and work from home and can set my own hours and can take a year off if need be
If anything goes wrong it could mean a trip to a very expensive but necessary 24 hour vet or at best the normal vet that the breeder is using. Vet consult, ultrasound to find out what the issue is $200+ The cost of an emergency Cesarian would be at least $1300+. Also consider the medication needed and extra vet bills if there are any complications with the mother or the kittens or if the mother needs additional vet checks or antibiotics before or after giving birth.
Once the kittens have arrived there is endless amounts of work that increase as the kittens age: washing the towels and pet bedding at least every second day or more often if mum is slack (factor in water, detergent, electricity, ware and tare on a washing machine and dryer that are overused), 24 hour a day running costs of heat mats or heater needed for the first 6 weeks after the kittens are born, in extremely hot weather we run ceiling fans & airconditioners in our nursery, petrol to and from the vets, consult vet fees of about $60 per consult (1 litter may need 2 vet checks minimum) + Microchipping, Vaccinations, Flea and worming treatments, disinfectants for litter trays and cages. Here our mum/kitten litter trays are dumped and disinfected daily, our other cats scooped daily and emptied & disinfected at least twice weekly. We are blessed to be on acreage so can burn our litter or compost it but others may have to factor in costs for an extra bin and or trips to the rubbish dump. Here our kitten areas are cleaned daily or as needed and fully disinfected every two days. This means bedding, cat tree, toys etc all need to be disinfected, floors vacummed and mopped. Kibble and water bowls are washed daily and wet food/meat plates after every meal. We feed our kittens 4+ meals a day so this creates a lot of dishes.
If there are any issues with the kittens at anytime this to could also mean more trips to the vet, endless nights sitting up looking after them, medications and so the list goes on.... Handfeeding a newborn kitten means feeding every two hours for the first two weeks of life. Broken sleep for weeks on end wreaks havoc on my health and luckily Rob or my daughter are available to take some shifts for me so I can get a couple of hours sleep in a row.
Washing our cats takes an hour per cat with full coat as we blowdry our cats until they are "show" dry. We also trim nails, face sculpt if needed and clip on occasion also. We wash every kitten here weekly at least from 5 - 6 wks on average, earlier if need be and the time it takes to do this, blowdry and groom them varies due to coat length and age. When they are 4 - 6 wks and learning to eat bathing increases during this time due to mishaps such as face planting or missing the litter tray.
We use special shampoos and products to ensure their beautiful coats are at their very best at all times. We also have the cost of purchasing grooming tools, makeup pads for eyes, powders, lubricative eye drops, as well as many other products.
Most breeders will own at least some form of cat pens and/or cattery or play area. Or like us at Fluffykins we have some inside, all our kittens inside various rooms & areas within our home & catio & our other boys & girls reside in our cattery or cat runs and it takes alot of cleaning to keep our home, cattery, catio & runs pristine. Even a basic cat pen would cost in excess of $500. If there is a cattery and/or cat runs this would set the breeder back thousands even for reasonably basic setups. An average well made cattery with shelves, hammocks and scratching poles will be at least $3000 and for something custom made with say four compartments would be more like $6000-$8000. A reasonable netted cat run $2000+
Then the purchase price of the necessary bedding and blankets, litter trays, bowls, cat carry boxes and storage facilities for the products...plus all the extras that make an area lovely & extra cost for me as I want everything to match haha....well you start to get the idea....
By the time the kittens are basically ready to go the breeder has probably spent a minimum of three hours of time with each potential new owner answering questions over the phone, email and face to face at shows or home if they allow visitors, from the potential owners initial enquiry right through to birth of the litter and then pick up/delivery. It takes time to determine if a person will make a suitable owner for one of our kittens.
We also spend hours taking photos and videos of our kittens so as owners are kept up to date with their kittens development. Here at Fluffykins our owners are provided with photo or video updates at least once a fortnight from when they are reserved to the day they leave. Beautiful photos of kittens don't happen like magic, so please be grateful for all the time and effort your breeder puts into them.
A litter of 5 kittens takes up a full weekend day just in them going home assuming you can get all the owners co ordinated for the same day. Kittens flying interstate have to be dropped at carriers lounge or airport which also takes up much time, tolls, fuel etc. I also spend many hours updating my website, instagram accounts, my facebook cattery page, pintrest and utube channel as well as advertising elsewhere if need be.
If the breeder supplies a folder of information then they are also paying for folders, printer cartridges, ink and time and effort putting the folders together often custom editing them for each litter. Our Fluffykins Kitten Handbook is emailed to all owners to avoid this, however it has taken approx 6 hours of my time to write as it is 12 pages long currently and always a work in progress.
For a breeder to go away on holidays is an absolute mission. Trying to find a friend stupid enough to house sit is nothing short of a miracle, we are lucky that we have a large family. Either way the carer will need some amount of payment which can cost hundreds for even just a short break away. Alternatively we can board our cats in a cattery but that is usually so expensive to board 4,10,25 or maybe more cats that it is just not viable and then there is also the risk of infection or illness so most breeders choose not to. I am lucky my son Joshua is old enough and responsible enough to care for our cats if we go away for a weekend. I am limited to going away as I won't go away when queens are due or kittens are young or have recently been vaccinated or desexed as I need to be there monitoring them in case there are complications. So rarely do I go away with kittens here, I think the last time was in 2011!
Finally breeders will spend many days a year attending courses and researching which obviously costs money to learn more about cats, their health and becoming a better breeder.
This knowledge will often assist my owners when they have any issues or questions. Most breeders also show their cats which costs on average $30 per entry and then you have time, fuel, tolls, lunch expenses etc. Also giving up a day and a half of their weekend in prep and actually attending the show.
Lastly we must take into consideration the breeding studs and queens and all their requirements to keep them happy, healthy and well fed all year round. Mums and Dads don't stop needing me just because I have cute little furballs to play with, they need love, attention and care too.
Please don't think that all breeders do this for money because most of them truly and honestly don't!
Personally I breed to better the breed and have goals in mind with each and every mating. I don't breed for the pet market, I breed to breed my next keeper kitty for show and the result of this means there are kittens left over to place in loving homes because I can't keep them all. This is a hobby for me which has totally overtaken a massive part of my families life.
In fact if you really consider the above it is actually questionable that we really make anything at all..... For the $$$ we put in, the endless hours and the heartbreak we endure, some things you can't even put a price on.
A responsible breeder will spend good money on their cats and kittens and ensure they are fed the best of everything and that the cats are well cared for in every aspect.
I hope this gives you a bit more of an understanding of where us breeders are coming from and why we charge what we do.
|Posted on July 30, 2017 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
PKD in Persians
written by Michelle Holden
Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (AD-PKD) is an inherited condition that causes multiple cysts (pockets of fluid) to form in the kidneys.
Unfortunately Persian & Exotic cats are the two most common breeds to be affected by this disease.
The recent widespread adoption of pre-breeding testing by Persian and Exotic Shorthair breeders in the Australia does mean that here the incidence of the disease is dropping, but it still remains a common problem within these breeds especially as some breeders refuse to believe it even exists & others won't go to the expense of having their cats tested.
A CAT THAT IS DNA CLEAR/NEGATIVE FROM PKD
CAN NEVER PRODUCE A KITTEN WITH THIS DISEASE
These cysts are present from birth. They start out very small but they grow larger with time and may eventually severely disrupt the kidney; when that happens the kidney can no longer work and kidney failure develops. The cysts usually grow quite slowly, so most affected cats will not show any signs of kidney disease until relatively late in life, typically at around seven or eight years old, or even into older age. However, in some cats kidney failure will occur at a much younger age (some clients have come to me devastated to purchase a new kitten after having their cat die from PKD at under 2yrs of age) and at the moment there is no way of predicting how rapidly the disease will progress in any particular cat.
How is PKD inherited?
AD-PKD is the result of a single, autosomal, dominant gene abnormality. This means that:-
HOW WE AT FLUFFYKINS VIEW PKD
In my opinion PKD should not even exist anymore within the persian breed. With the easy & affordable access to accurate testing breeders have no excuse for not testing. When we started our cattery in 2007 we made certain that all our foundation cats were DNA tested clear for PKD. We as breeders & pet owners have enough things that threaten the lives of our babies. I do not think it is ethical to sell a kitten into a family home knowing that it could die within two years due to something totally preventable. People adore their pets & form bonds quickly & if I were to lose one to something like this I would be very angry with the breeder indeed.
Many breeders say they can't afford the testing & thats why they don't test their cats, which to me is a scary statement. I am sorry but if you as a breeder can't afford to spend $40 on each of your cats you should not be a breeder. Harsh I know, but with breeding cats there are alot of expenses & I feel a breeder that won't invest in PKD testing would cut corners elsewhere to, with vet care, vaccinations, microchipping & even the quality of food & litter they use.
Some breeders when acurate testing came accessible desexed or spayed any of their breeding stock with the gene abnormality. This would have cost them greatly both emotionally, cattery wise & finacially. Others ran the tests but decided to breed their positive cats until they got a kitten or two from it that was clear or negative for PKD. The problem that arose with this option is that it meant some babies would be born with PKD & what was a breeder to do with them? I think the key here is honesty..... explain to the potential owner about PKD & that the kitten has it & may have a reduced life span due to it. TELL them so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not to allow this kitten into their lives and adjust its sale price accordingly.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT YOURSELF AS A BUYER
The only way to be certain that your new kitten is free from PKD is to view a PKD DNA certificate for the kittens parents/grandparents/ancestors etc. Or to have the kitten DNA tested yourself prior to purchase if uncertain. The cost is around $40, but well worth it to ensure you are buying a kitten free from this potential life shortening defect.
The breeder will be able to show you the pedigree of your new kittens parents & allow you to view certificates for the cats relatives to prove that they are DNA clear or negative. Take your time in viewing these papers to ensure they match up correctly to the baby you are considering.
We at Fluffykins pride ourselves as being a PKD negative cattery & are proud to be able to guarantee our babies are PKD negative.