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Breeder Mentoring Program
Should You Become an Old-Style Siamese Breeder?
Research what is involved before you jump into it. Experience with breeding dogs or horses is not enough. Experience breeding other breeds of cat is not enough. Every domestic species and each breed within the species is different, requiring new knowledge, skills, and different facilities.
Humane, high quality breeding of pedigreed cats such as the Old-Style Siamese is both expensive and hard work. You will never make money from it, and it will occupy most of your free time. Breeding one litter will not help the breed, and it can be difficult to find good homes for the kittens when you are an unknown breeder. Given that there are so many sweet, deserving stray and abandoned cats in need of good homes, breeding one litter just for kicks is irresponsible.
Keeping several healthy, unneutered, high quality cats in your home as part of a selective breeding program and producing at least one litter of kittens year after year in that home can help the breed survive. However, it also creates conditions in which behavior problems, accidents, and epidemic diseases can flourish. And when you sell kittens to other breeders, the genetic mistakes you have made may mean damage to the entire breed. You will not see it in one year or five, but others may see it in twenty years or thirty. They may not know where it came from. They will probably never know it was your fault, but the damage will be there. Genetic damage to a breed often cannot be undone.
You must create a breeding environment that will allow you to keep breeding limited numbers of high quality, healthy, happy, genetically sound kittens for years. But doing that, breeding ethically for the good of the breed, will require a lot of expertise, time, and money.
—Erasmus Darwin the Cat Breeder
If you are seriously considering becoming a breeder, ask yourself at least these questions:
The bottom line is: you have to be very, very motivated by your love of
the cats AND you have to have the right kind of family, job situation, lifestyle,
and home. If you don't have the full support of your spouse; if you don't
own your own home; if you don't have flexible working hours; if you don't
have cash to spare; if you aren't diligent, patient, hard-working, and organized;
if you aren't willing to be a student again; then you can't be a responsible
breeder. If you can't be a responsible breeder, then you should not breed.
destiny of Old-Style Siamese?"
—Henry David Thoreau the Cat Breeder
But If You Do Have What It Takes, What Next?
Before you buy a breeding cat, before you breed that first litter, the first thing you need to do is get educated about the breed and about the science of breeding. You need a mentor who is an experienced breeder of Old-Style Siamese, and you need to join a breed club. PREOSSIA is a breed club.
You should not buy your first breeding cat until you know what you are doing.
Why is that?
People tend to think that there are large numbers of cats in every
breed, and that they are mostly not related to each other. But in fact,
the opposite is true. Any Siamese cat you find, no matter where you find
that cat, is likely to be closely related to the next Siamese cat you come
across. Not only that, but what makes a cat an Old-Style Siamese is more
than just appearance. It is the genes that cat carries, including hidden
genes inherited from the cat's ancestors, that determine whether the cat
is worth breeding or not. Some of the hidden genes may be dangerous defects.
If you find a cat that lacks registration papers, chances are good that the cat is not a purebred Siamese. If so, that cat may carry genes for traits that will be undesirable for Old-Style Siamese cats to have, genes for white spotting, long hair, and more. Worse yet, the unregistered cat may carry genes for personalities that aren't typical of Siamese. Arguably the single most important trait of the Siamese breed is its personality. Any pointed cat off the street can look more or less Siamese, but only a Siamese with all-Siamese ancestors is likely to be keenly intelligent, intensely curious, talkative, and interactive with humans. Only a Siamese with Siamese ancestors is likely to have that almost human quality, that "cat but not just a cat," quality for which the Siamese breed has long been famous.
Alternatviely, many cats you find may look like Old-Style Siamese
to you, but may have a great many show-style (modern) Siamese cats among
their recent ancestors. If they do, then you may find that many of the kittens
produced by this cat will have a more extreme appearance than you would like.
The bottom line is, if you buy and proceed to breed a cat that does not have an authentically Old-Style Siamese pedigree, you will do the Old-Style Siamese breed more harm than good. If you don't learn how to study and evaluate the pedigree of your first breeding cat before you buy her, you probably won't make a good choice.
A final reason to be very careful and learn before you buy that first breeding cat relates to the future of the Old-Style Siamese breed. The Old-Style Siamese breed currently is a very small breed in danger of extinction. In order to survive and remain genetically healthy, the breed needs to have as many cats as possible that are not closely related to each other. If you choose a cat at random for breeding that you don't know much about, even if the cat is an authentic Old-Style Siamese, chances are that the cat will actually be closely related to one of the lineages (families) of Old-Style Siamese that are already being bred by responsible breeders. What you need to do if you want to help the breed is learn how to find a lineage that is not being bred by very many other breeders, or better yet, one that is not being bred by any other responsible breeders at all!
It is just as "Thoreau" said in the quote above: you are not much of a breeder if you don't take the time to learn about the past and the future of the Old-Style Siamese breed. You need to learn about the pedigrees of the past in order to know how to plan the pedigrees of the future.
To learn about pedigrees, to learn how to choose the right cats to breed, you need the help of experienced breeders who already know a lot about those things. PREOSSIA breeders understand the importance of breeders mentoring breeders for the benefit of the breed as a whole. If you are willing to learn, you will find a PREOSSIA breeder who is willing to teach. This is what the PREOSSIA Breeder Mentoring Program is all about. We encourage new breeders to join PREOSSIA, find an experienced breeder willing to serve as the new breeder's principal mentor, and join the club listserv. The club listserv allows new breeders to ask questions of many different breeders in the club, as well as of knowledgable non-breeders in the club. The listserv also allows members of the club to get to know each other, develop contacts and friendships. Responsible breeders will not sell breeding cats to people they don't know and trust.
Lastly, PREOSSIA members maintain pedigree databases of Old-Style Siamese. We know a lot about the bloodlines of the old type of Siamese, and that kind of information is not readily available from online databases.
We are here to help anyone who is serious about learning how to breed with the welfare of the cats in mind and for the benefit of the breed as a whole.
Six chocolate point kittens and one lilac point, healthy kittens reared
by a novice breeder, with help from experienced breeder friends.
For questions about PREOSSIA, email the Webmaster.
(c) Text and photos copyright 1999-2009 A.D. by PREOSSIA. Some photos and materials on or linked to this site are copyrighted by individual PREOSSIA members and their friends and are found here with their permission. You may link to this page, but may not copy or reproduce any portion of it or anything linked to it without written consent from the copyright holders.