By Sheelagh Le Cocq
Last time we discussed various frequently asked questions by novice
breeders on mating a queen and selling kittens. This time I intend to
answer questions on the actual birth and also about keeping studs.
- How can I first tell that my queen is pregnant?
- After about three weeks you should notice that her
nipples have become enlarged and pink. This the only real sign until 5-6
weeks, when the pregnancy starts to become obviously noticeable. It is
possible for the vet to do an ultra sound scan, but this usual and is
- Once I am sure that she is pregnant, should I give
her ore to eat? Take extra care of her? Give her extra vitamins?
- Extra Good quality food should be given after the
5th week. If you normally feed her twice a day, give a
mid-day meal of meat or fish, cheese, eggs or dilute evaporated milk. If
you don't want to give the milk or she doesn't like it, start giving
multi vitamins now. After the 6th week introduce another meal,
usually late in the evening. With the size of the developing kittens her
stomach is unable to hold a vast amount at a time. Small, frequent meals
are better than two large ones.
- Do I need to prepare somewhere for her to have her
kittens or will she make her own choice?
- It is not a good idea to allow her to roam free in
the latter stages of pregnancy. Confine her to one room about a week
before she is due to give birth. A large cardboard box is deal. Most
cats like to feel enclosed, when giving birth. Make sure it is lined
with old towels or sheets, with plenty of newspaper underneath.
- How can I tell when she has started labor?
- You may notice that she has gone off her food, and
she will probably be very restless. She may also have a clear vaginal
discharge. One very obvious sign is that she will start to prepare her
"nest", shredding newspaper and kneading. This first stage of labor can
go on for several hours. You should then notice that she is having
regular contractions, which come closer and closer together until she is
having one every thirty seconds.
- Should I take an active role or should I let her
get on with it?
- If you are a novice, it is far wiser to let your
queen get on with it. Interference will probably do more harm than good.
Keep a eye on her progress and be prepared to call the vet if there are
- How can I tell if all is not right?
- After more than an hour of heavy contractions (i.e.
every thirty seconds with no kitten appearing), if your queen is
straining and becoming exhausted, and if a placenta (after birth) is not
passed for each kitten is born. Do keep an eye on this as the queen may
She may have her kittens close together or there may be a gap of 1/2 or
even an hour between births. She should, however, break open each sac and
wash the kitten to get it to breath. If she doesn't, gently break the sac
and rub the kitten gently. Do not pull or try to lift it away, if it is
still attached by the umbilical cord.
Sometimes a queen will go many hours in between kittens, 8/12 hours is
not unusual, though she should not be having contractions during this
time. Only if she is contracting with no kitten appearing should you worry.
- Should I give the mother and kittens any extra
- If it is in Spring or Summer, it should not be
necessary to give any additional heat source. In Winter a heated pad or
covered hot water bottle should be used to keep the kittens warm.
- Should I leave her quiet or clean up the bed?
- Some queens resent interference. Others are happy
for you to remove the debris and put the whole family in a clean bed.
Make sure that she has plenty of clean water. Try offering a light meal,
after the birth is over, but often she won't take anything for at least
24 hours. Keep her quiet and don't keep disturbing her once you are
satisfied that all is well. Some queens may kill their kittens if
- Should I keep my own stud?
- Unless you are really going into breeding in a big
way, the answer must be an emphatic NO.
- I intend to keep several queens and would find it
more convenient to have my own stud. Do you still advise me not to keep
- It is still not advisable to keep a stud unless
you have at least 3-4 queens and can ensure that he will get outside
- What size quarters should I keep him in, or will I
be able to keep him in the house?
- It will be impossible to keep a stud in the house
due to his anti-social habit of spraying. You will need to provide a
large stud house with room for a separate queens' pen. This should be
large enough for her bed and litter tray, food and water. She should be
secure but still able to see, smell and hear the stud. There should also
be a large secure outside run, preferably with grass and tree trunks, as
large as your garden allows.
An un-neutered male would normally roam over a territory of
approximately five miles. In keeping him caged, we are going against his
natural roaming instincts, and should therefore aim to make his life,
artificial though it is, as pleasant and interesting as possible.
- Where should I site my stud quarters?
- This is a very difficult question to answer
without seeing your property. When they do not have a queen, many studs
become very vocal and can annoy the neighbors. This can partially be
minimized by ensuring that your stud is shut in his house at night, if
he shows signs of being a "caller". Some breeders shut their stud in
every night. If you have no close neighbors, let him have his freedom.
Although you need to keep the run as far away from neighbors as possible,
this does not mean that you should site the run at the far end of your
garden out of sight and sound. The stud house should be in close
proximity to the house, where your cat can see everything going on, if
he is not to become lonely and neurotic.
- Does he have to live on his own or can I let him
- Many breeders do keep a spayed queen with a stud,
when he has no other female company. Often this is one of their breeding
queens, who has gone past breeding age and been neutered. Some studs are
happy with this, others won't tolerate another cat sharing their
quarters on a permanent basis.
- I lead a busy life. Should I keep a stud?
- No. You will need to spend a considerable amount
of time every day with your stud, not just cleaning and feeding, but
talking to him and grooming him.
Will you feel like spending time with him when it is raining, or in the
depth of Winter? It isn't fair to leave him on his own, while you sit
around the fire with your queens and neuters. While your own queens may be
quite relaxed with him, visiting queens may not be. Are you prepared to
spend many hours sitting there, maybe late into the night to observe a
mating? More importantly are your husband and children prepared to let you
spend the amount of time required with your stud?
- How many queens will I need to keep him happy?
- All studs vary. Some require a queen only every
two or three months. Others need an average of two a month. Ask yourself
if you can provide the amount of work he needs from the Siamese in your
- If it doesn't work out, will I be able to neuter
him and keep him as a pet?
- It is very difficult to rehabilitate neutered
studs, especially those who have been frustrated due to insufficient
queens, or who have been kept short of human company. They may find it
very hard to adapt to a domestic household and many never entirely lose
their habit of spraying.
This may all sound rather negative, especially as some of you already
keep your own studs. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that keeping
a stud is not for novices.
Take your queens to established studs. You will see good and bad
practices. Learn from them what to do and what not to do. Only when you
have considerable knowledge and experience under your belt should you
consider keeping a stud of your own.