Peterbald FAQ

 

Here I have tried to compile many of the questions frequently asked about the Peterbald cats. 


>*.*< Do you want to know all about the Peterbald Cat but don't really feel like digging all around the FAQs?
There is a .pdf Presentation that is available here.
I plan to make it available in the future as a .swf (Flash), but for now you will need the Adobe .pdf player. Although it is in need of an update, it walks through the (TICA 2007) standard, coat types, coat development, and shows many photos of many different PDs. The changes that will be reflected in the update are the revisions to the Standard - there is no longer any written description of the various coat types in the TICA Peterbald Standard; only ranges of hairlessness grouped into three categories: bald (basically sticky to velour), brush, and straight.
There are lots of photos and it may take a few minutes to load, so be patient ;)
IT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR RE-POSTING WITHOUT MY CONSENT. PLEASE ASK BEFORE USING IT!
You will only be asked to refrain from changing it ~ I would love to make it available. Just send me a note.


General Questions
 

1. Are these cats a hairless Oriental?
2. Why do we need another hairless breed? Isn't the Sphynx enough?
3. How will they be different from the Sphynx?
4. What are the allowable outcrosses?
5. Don't they get cold?
6. Do they require any special care?
7. I have heard that hairless cats are "hypo-allergenic."  Is this true?
$. So, how much do these cats cost?

 

Questions about coats

8. What are the different types of coat? (length, texture, thickness, etc...)
9. Will they lose all or some of their fur?
10. What are your plans for the straight coated kittens produced? Will all of them be used in
your breeding programs? If not kept to breed, or when retired, then what?

 

Questions about breeding

A note about breeding
11. How do I find a good breeder?

12. How often will my queen come into heat?
13. How do I know if my cat is in heat?
14. When is my queen ready to be bred?
15. Is it difficult to breed Peterbalds?
16. How do I know if my cat has been bred?
17. Are there ways I can tell when my female is about
to deliver?
18. When will she have kittens?
19. Are there any special preparations for the delivery I should know about?
20. And the delivery?
21. How can I determine the sex of a newborn kitten?
22. Is there anything special I need to do for the newborn kittens?
23. Why is this newborn kitten losing wieght?

 



1. Are these cats a hairless Oriental?


No, they are Peterbald, not hairless Orientals. The standardOS cat shows that they are different - albeit very slightly different. There is currently much debate in the breeding community on this topic, and every breeder will give a slightly different answer. To me, the original vision of this breed is simple: these cats were intended to be a hairless Oriental. Long, leggy, wedge shaped head, extra large, low ears; our breed Standard in TICA supports an extremely Oriental looking cat, in my opinion. The 2 key differences as I see it are pretty basic:
~ Our cats should be hairless, and
~ Our wedge-shaped head, although as long as possible, is supposed to be blunt.
So, take a look at a good, 'European' Oriental; picture it naked, and you see my vision of what the Peterbald should be.
 

 

 

 

 


 

2. Why do we need another hairless breed? Isn't the Sphynx enough?
 

Yes, the PD is another hairless breed, but is VERY different from the Sphynx.  First of all, the hairlessness is from a different gene, dominant rather than recessive.  Second, they do not resemble each other.  Surely the same thing could be said of why we need another cat with spots or stripes? ...  Or, isn't one pointed cat enough? If this were true then we wouldn't have Himilayans, Birmans, Ragdolls, or Snowshoe even for that matter.


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3. How will they be different from the Sphynx?
 

Of course, the main difference is the fact that the gene responsible for the Peterbald's hairlessness is basically dominant (if you are interested in a long discussion about the genetics of the PD coat types, send me an Email, and I will spare the rest of you ;) ), while the hairless gene of the Sphynx is recessive.  The look of these cats is also very different.  The Peterbald is lean and muscular, with long legs and a long, thin body.  They are to have a long, wedge shaped head, with large, low (wide set) ears, no "whisker pinch," and much less defined cheekbones.  The Sphynx, on the other hand, is to have shorter legs, a "barrel shaped body" that is much shorter and rounder than the PD, high, large ears that point up instead of out on their shorter head, and the noted facial differences.

 

 

 


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4. What are the allowable outcrosses?
 

The Don Hairless, the Siamese & the Oriental Shorthair.

 
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5. Don't they get cold?
 

Remember, these cats are from Russia!  They are a hearty, healthy breed of cat that adapt very well to most situations.  In my home, I keep one bed available with a heating pad beneath it, and leave it turned on all year. If they are feeling like they need a warm place to rest (and the inside of my jacket is not available!), they always know that they can go to their bed. Many people like to dress their PDs in the wintertime, and that is fun but not necessary. If you purchase a kitten from my cattery (and I hope any other cattery, for that matter), you will sign a contract, or "adoption agreement," that requires your new family member be kept inside.
*Remember that these cats-all hairless cats-will sunburn, and you must be careful while they are in an enclosed outside run or if your windows do not provide protection against UV light.

 

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6. Do they require any special care?

 

All hairless cats require more frequent bathing than normal coated cats.  The typical Sphynx will need to be bathed most often at least once a wekk (or more). If you do not tend to their bathing, their coat will become visibly 'dirty' looking, and they will begin to leave residue in their favorite places to lay. The Peterbald is generally less oily than the Sphynx, and therefore doesn't need to be bathed as often; maybe every two to eight weeks, depending on your cat.  Sticky- or ultra-bald cats are more oily and need to be bathed more often than their very short coated counterparts. 

All hairless cats also need to have their ears nail beds and ears cleaned regularly, as they have a tendency to develop an oily buildup.  Personally, I trim my cat's claws once every 2-3 weeks, and find this to be a convenient time to do this maintenance. 

The Peterbald coat is different in feel than that of the SX; it is akin to the difference between a man's skin and a woman's... They are both soft and nice to feel, but there is a discernable difference. The added oil the Sphynx produces seems to be the basis for this difference.

 

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7. I have heard that hairless cats are "hypo-allergenic."  Is this true?

 

It has been written that hairless cats are not allergy free.  Many people are allergic to the dried saliva residue left after grooming, and all cats will groom themselves.  HOWEVER, I have found that these cats groom themselves less often and less thoroughly than "furry" cats.  I can only tell you what I have experienced personally.  My husband and several people in my family are VERY allergic to cats and suffer almost immediately upon entering a house with even one short haired indoor only cat.  Not one of these people has experienced that horrible itchy eyes-itchy throat sensation while in my home or after handling my cats.  If you have a cat allergy and are interested in one of my babies, there are some 'tests' we can do if geography makes a visit to a Peterbald Cattery impossible. A visit is the best test, but there are other options. Contact me for more information.

 

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$. So, how much do these cats cost?

 

When I first began researching these cats, I found it very difficult to find out how much they were worth.  How much an individual cat is worth is, as with most pedigreed animals, dependent on their quality.  A show/breeder quality Peterbald will run anywhere from $1500 to $2000 and up.  When looking for a pet quality Peterbald, you can expect to be closer to the $1000 - $1400 range, depending on the cat's coat type and overall quality.  The typical range for a brush coated Peterbald (as a pet) is about $800 - $1200, again depending on how well that kitten represents the Breed Standard and how short/dense its coat may or may not be. And, let's not forget the Straight Coated kittens, which have a greater range of pricing between breeders... As a pet, I ask a $350 adoption fee. If you are looking for a 'show quality' pet, you should expect to pay a bit more for it.

When speaking to a breeder about their prices, be sure that you ask whether the cat's alteration (spay/neuter) will be included in the price of sale, and what the total shipping charges will be.


 

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8. What are the different types of coat? (length, texture, thickness, etc...)
 

The conversations have finially begun to take place about the 'standardization' of the Peterbald coat descriptions!! Now, if we can only get everyone on the same page, you will be MUCH less confused :)

We basically have broken the Peterbald into two main coat types: the 'bald coats' and the 'hairy coats'.

THE BALD COATS ARE PERMISSIBLE FOR SHOW AT ALL LEVELS OF COMPETITION.

(1) Ultra bald, or hairless born (100% Hairless).
A few other names you may have heard this coat type referred to are: ultra hairless, born naked, or hairless born.
The ultra bald PDs are born totally without hair. They are completely hairless, and do not grow any coat after birth. They are usually born without whiskers or eyebrows and often have their eyes open at birth. The skin is soft, warm and sticky to the touch. They feel like warm rubber, hence the term “sticky bald”. These cats tend to prefer to be massaged over the typical, stroking (“petting”) motion. The ultra bald is probably homozygous for the Peterbald (Donskoy) gene; however, it is too early in Peterbald research to make a definitive statement.

ultra hairless peterbald kitten, hairless born ultrabald


(2) Flock or Chamois (Shammy) (90% hairless).
The flocked or chamois Peterbald is smooth to the touch and has no visible hair. Hair measures 1/100th mm to 1 mm. There is no resistance to the coat when stroked in any direction and there is no sensation of stickiness. It feels like silk. Peterbalds with this coat type may have residual, close-lying down on the extremities which may or may not be lost as the cat matures. Whiskers and eyebrows are kinky, curly, broken or a combination of these. This is the most desirable coat type.

Peterbald kitten - female chocolate point flock coat hairless cat suede or shammy coat peterbald hairless cat

 


3) Velour (70% Hairless).  
The velour coat ranges from 1 – 5mm in length and appears hairless from a distance. Upon close inspection, the coat is visible. The texture of the coat can range from sparse, short and slightly wavy hair where the skin is easily visible, to a denser coat where the skin is only slightly visible. On those cats with the denser texture, the coat shines, giving it a sleek look. When moving a hand over the velour coat, there is some resistance because the coat does not typically lay tight to the body as it does with a flock or chamois. This coat can be lost, leaving a flock or chamois coat by two years of age. Kittens born with a velour coat usually have a bald spot or ‘monk’s cap’ on the top of the head.

velour coat peterbald cat

THE HAIRY COATS: BRUSH COATS MAY BE SHOWN ONLY IN THE KITTEN CLASS.


(4) Brush. 
The brush coat is comprised of wiry hair that may be barely wavy to almost curly. It ranges from sparse to dense, with irregular texture. It may be coarse or soft and will be longer than 5 mm in length. Cats born with a light brush coat may lose the coat over a period of time and may become bald before two years of age. The heavy, dense brush coat is never lost. Whiskers on a brush coated cat or kitten are ALWAYS curly or kinky. A velour coat is sometimes confused for a “light brush”. The difference can be determined by the coat length and the wiry texture of the brush (remember, the texture of the velour coat is soft).

Light brush coat peterbald

Light Brush

heavy brush coat peterbald

Heavy Brush chocolate and white PD, pictured with her calico Oriental Short Hair mother

 

 

(5) Straight Coated. 
These cats are non-standard and it is commonly held that they do not carry the gene responsible for the hair loss of other coat types.  The coat will be similar in look and feel to the coat of an OSH (Oriental Short Hair) or SIA (Siamese); very short, close-lying, and lacking any discernible undercoat.  At birth, a straight coated PD is likely to have a kinky undercoat and/or longer gaurd hairs that will give way to the normal, close lying coat (typically) by or before 12 weeks of age.  Straight coated PDs will have normal, straight whiskers.  A normal-looking coat with the presence of the curly or kinky whiskers identifies the cat as a brush coat.  Broken whiskers alone is not enough to make this determination and the cat with broken whiskers and a normal looking coat should be considered a straight coat.

straight coated male peterbald kitten - coat similar to an oriental short hair


 

These groups are somewhat diffusive, and, at times, it will be difficult to determine the difference between a flock or suede, if it's extra-short brush or velour, and so on - especially in a kitten.
A Peterbald-gene carrying kitten can be differentiated from a straight coat at birth by the presence of any of the following traits:
~ born mostly or completely without hair
~ a distinct red, bald patch evident on the crown of the head
~ kinky or curly whiskers.  Broken whiskers in absence of any other identifying feature is not enough to determine that cat carries the hair losing gene.
~ the eyes may be open at birth, or open within the first few hours or days after birth.  This alone is not enough to determine that the cat does or does not carry the hair losing gene, but must accompany one of the above identifying traits.


And, finally, while the Peterbald is in most cases a hair losing breed, it has been documented that, occasionally, some cats may grow some coat, typically between 3 and 6 months of age.  In these cases, this second coat is almost always lost again before the cat's second year, but it must be noted that a Peterbald can not be guaranteed to remain in one particular coat category before it is three years of age.  Seasonal and hormonal coat differences have also been noted, including hair growth/loss in relation to seasonal whether or pregnancy.  This change in coat is typically minor and is most often most evident in the hair growth pattern on any areas of the cat's body that have a longer coat (IE the legs and tail, although possibly also on the flanks and/or chest). 



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9. Will they lose all or some of their fur?
 

This question is quite honestly difficult to answer.  Your breeder will have a good idea of the likelihood of your kitten to lose its hair because they should have an idea based on that kitten's genetics.  The Peterbald is, however, quite notorious for the changes that will occur in its coat as it ages.  Cats will make changes in coat type (most often after the second month, the change in fur would be a LOSS of fur; this is a hair LOSING breed), and, more often in color.  I have seen red cats turn lilac or blue cream, and I have seen a tortie develop distinct stripes to become a torbie...(this cat was a light brush coat).  They just like to keep us on our toes!

 

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10. What are your plans for the straight coated kittens produced? Will all of them be used in your breeding programs? If not kept to breed, or when retired, then what?

A straight coated Peterbald is still a Peterbald, and should have the look we are working towards.  Therefore, these kittens are either used in our breeding programs if they are high enough quality and type, or they are altered & placed in loving pet homes. This is the same as for any non-standard or non-show quality or non-breeder quality kitten in any breed. 

 

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A note about breeding

Many of my family members harass me ceaselessly about breeding cats and dogs.  They insist that I am overly involved; animals have been mating and having babies a LONG tome with no help at all from people!  Well, this is true, but it doesn't change the responsibility you have as a breeder.  As a breeder, you must understand that you are 100% responsible for the outcome of any breeding or attempted breeding.  Your responsibility is not solely financial nor to the kittens, you are equally responsible for the health of the queen, the health of the sire, and the continuing health of the kittens that are born of the pairing.   Breeding is an enormous responsibility, and not one to be undertaken lightly.   Before making the decision to become a breeder, you need to consider your motives.  If they are financial, you are in it for the wrong reasons.  There are many expenses involved with merely owning an animal, let alone raising them.  I am in love with the breeds I promote,  breed them carefully to further quality lines, and I strive to place every animal into a quality, loving home.  In this day and age where healthy animals are routinely euthanized because appropriate homes cannot be found, we must make every effort to avoid any preventable harm from coming to the animals that have been brought into the world at our hands.

 

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11.  How do I find a good breeder?

Talk to any prospective breeder, in person, if possible, or on the phone.  Trust your instincts.  Do they seem knowledgeable and generally "together"?  Can they answer your questions?  If not, do they get back to you with the information?  Do they ask questions of you, about your lifestyle and habits?  A good breeder should be well informed, concerned about you and about their cats, and willing to give references. 

Ask about the ages of their queens and how many litters those cats have had.  An older (not older than about 5 years) cat is OK if they spent time in the show ring before beginning to be bred.  Are their cats caged or routinely confined?  If so, how often are they handled?  How many adults are in their cattery?  All of these are reasonable things to ask. 

Finally, take the time to contact their references.  Were they pleased with the health, temperment, and quality of their cat?  How much care ws put into the shipping accomidations?  Also be sure to ask general qusetions about their overall experience with that breeder.  Most of all, though, TRUST YOUR JUDGMENT!

 

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12. How often will my cat come into heat?

In the world of breeding cats, the female cat is usually called a "queen".  Her heat cycle is often called the "estrus cycle" or simply "estrus".  There are many factors that contribute to the length and frequency of the estrus cycle, including the female's age, her overall health, her genetic background, and also environmental factors such as temperature and daylight hours.  Once a queen begins her estrus, she may stay in heat anywhere from several days, to 2-3 weeks.  Once they are sexually mature and enter estrus, some queens will not come out of heat unless and until they are either bred to a full male cat, or spayed.  However, most queens will cycle in and out of estrus during the prime breeding season (roughly December through August), coming out of heat approximately every other week.

 

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13.  How do I know if my cat is in heat?

Every cat will be a bit different while in heat.  Where dogs have vaginal bleeding during estrus, this is very rarely the case with cats.  However, you will surely notice a change in their behavior!  The majority of queens become quite vocal and loud, and become very needy and wanton of affection.  They may roll around on the floor or lay down right in front of your feet as you are walking.  Constantly wanting to be with you and to be stroked may be an understatement for most queens.  You will also notice that, if you pet them on their back, they will raise their rear end up high and knead with their front paws.

 

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14.  When is my queen ready to be bred?

This is another issue about which there is some debate.  Of course, it is best if the cat has an opportunity to mature fully, both physically and emotionally, before undertaking the stresses of motherhood.  Most of the time, it is best to wait until she is at least one year old, and has had at least two heat cycles.  As with everything, there are exceptions to every rule, and, if your cat had had more than two very intense heat cycles, you should talk to your mentor about whether it would be a good idea to breed her before one year of age.  At what age your queen begins her heat cycles and their intensity will vary due to environmental factors and genetics, just like the length and frequency of their estrus.  Waiting too long to breed her will make her more susceptible to several uterine infections or ovarian cysts, which may, in the end, lead to sterility.

 

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15. Is it difficult to breed Peterbalds?

Cats have the highest mortality rate of and domestically bred animal at about 35%.  Cats can be generally difficult to breed, and these cats are certainly no exception.  Their hairlessness makes the female more prone to be injured during the breeding, even just from the normal biting the male will do to hold her.  If your female is injured in this way, just keep an eye on the wound.  Clean it once you are able, and try to keep Neosporin on it.  All cats are prone to abscesses, especially from bite wounds, so just keep an eye on it.  Prevention is easier that the cure!

If you are considering becoming a breeder of the Peterbald, I HIGHLY recommend finding an experienced breeder to mentor you.  There are many things unique to this breed that are very important to know.  Also, it is helpful to have someone who can just answer any questions you may have at all stages.  Work hard to find a quality breeder that you can trust!  It is well worth the effort.

 

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16. How do I know if my cat has been bred?

Ovulation in a female cat does not occur until she has been bred.  Most female cats require 3-4 breedings within a 24 hour period for ovulation to occur.  As the breeder, you must not simply put the pair together and let them "do their thing".  Again, you need to watch both the queen and the sire.  If the they are happy together, there is no urgent need to separate them after they have bred.  It is OK to leave a happy couple together right up until a week prior to the queen's delivery date, because, once the queen is pregnant, she will come out of heat, and the male will stop mating her.  Some breeders prefer to leave the queen in with the stud for 1-2 days, while others prefer to be a bit more certain that the queen is pregnant, and give them 4 days together.  Leaving the pair together longer will not necessarily result in more kittens.  The number of kittens is mostly governed by genetics; a queen from a large litter is more likely to have a larger litter herself.  Under normal circumstances, the male will provide adequate fertilization, but the queen will only release a certain number of eggs. 

After a queen has been bred, she will likely act differently, growling and rolling around.  However, seeing this behavior or seeing the actual copulation does not necessarily mean that the pregnancy has "taken".   The queen is likely to come out of heat if she was bred, even if the mating was unsuccessful (remember that the female will come out of heat from penetration, not only from impregnation).  Two to three weeks after a successful breeding, you should notice that her nipples become quite noticeably pink (or pinker, depending on her color), and she will likely begin to have a voracious appetite.  At this point, your vet (or an experienced hand) should be able to palpate her abdomen and feel the tiny fetuses.  Occasionally, a pregnant female will evoke sympathy from any mother with a bout of morning sickness.  It is usually short lived, and occurs most often between the second and fourth week of her pregnancy.  If you cat seems very ill, or the "morning sickness" does not pass quickly, you should contact your vet.

Once you have determined that your cat is in fact pregnant, you should switch her to a higher fat, higher protein diet.  I switch my cats to a premium kitten food and add additional wet food to her feeding regimen.  I continue this feeding program throughout her pregnancy and until the kittens are weaned.
 

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17. Are there ways I can tell when my female is about to deliver?

The first telltale sign will be your queen beginning to nest, or to search for a place to have her kittens.   By a bit more than halfway through the pregnancy, I start preparing a few nesting boxes.  There are commercially available nesting boxes, but I find it easiest to use a cardboard box.  They are readily available, highly customizable, and easy to clean (to the recycle bin with it!).  Several breeders have raised concerns about the chemicals in plastics causing them to lose litters, and, although I have never personally known of a litter lost to this, I avoid plastic containers as nest boxes on the suspicion. 

Choose a box that is large enough for your cat to stand fully, to turn around, and to stretch out comfortably.  Not too small, and not too big.  When setting up your box, cut the opening several inches above the floor of the box.  This will allow the new mama to come and go while containing the kittens effectively for several weeks.  I also find it very helpful to cut some slits to allow light through, and a secondary opening (just an opening flap, don't remove it) in the top or high in the back for access.  I appreciate the light to see what is happening, but I keep the box covered with a dark towel to make it warmer and more den-like for the queen.  With the hairless cats, I always use a heating pad.  I put it inside the box first, then cover it with a waterproof baby changing pad as my first layer inside the box.  Next, I add several layers of receiving blankets or small towels that can be removed as necessary during the delivery process.  Puppy training pads and paper layers do not work well for me, as most of the queens I have known are diggers and simply shred these things.  If they dig in the towels, I can just smooth them back down.

Often, it is easiest to begin to restrict your cat to the room in which you are hoping she will deliver in about two weeks before she is due, a bit at a time.  Locking her away suddenly and completely upon or just before delivery is just too stressful for most cats.   Many queens will take very well to this gradual confinement, as it is instinctive for them to find a den and prepare for the delivery.  As to just where to confine her, that will have to be up to you, after all, no one knows your cat as well as you do.  Most cats prefer a quiet place, not completely removed from you but certainly out of the way of traffic and other animals.

During the final week, you will likely notice a few more changes.  She will likely become more needy, and REALLY start to seek a quiet place, often jumping in every drawer and cupboard that she is able.  You will also notice that her milk is slowly beginning to come in, especially if this is not her first litter.  She will look full of milk usually 24 hours before delivery.  Also is the final 24 hours, she will likely lose interest in her food.  If you are able to take her temperature rectally, it will drop about a degree and stay down for the final day.

 

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18. When will she have kittens?

The gestation period for cats ranges from about 60 to 67 days, with the average pregnancy lasting 63 days.  The surest way to have an idea of when the kittens will come is to count the days since the breeding, so REMEMBER TO MARK YOUR CALENDAR! 

For tips about how to tell if you cat is pregnant, see the above question.

 

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19. Are there any special preparations for the delivery I should know about?

Besides cleaning and preparing your queen's birthing area and making nesting boxes, you should gather your supplies well before you NEED them.  Put together in a convenient place everything you anticipate needing:

  • several small (old) washcloths or towels,
  • a clean cat carrier in case of an emergency trip to the vet,
  • a small hemostat,
  • sterilized, very sharp scissors (in case you need to trim a cord),
  • clear iodine or alcohol prep pads,
  • extra bedding for the box,
  • a note pad and pen,
  • a cordless phone and all of your vet's phone numbers, including emergency and after hours numbers,
  • a small (kitchen or postal) scale that measures not less that tenths of an ounce or single grams,
  • a bulb aspirator,
  • a flashlight,
  • one cc of oxytocin, and
  • dopram-V (doxapram hydrochloride, a respitory stimulant). 

If you are not very familiar with the use and dosages of the medications, enlist the help of your mentor or talk to your vet until you are very comfortable.  In most cases, especially with the dopram-v, a short trip to the vet's office will be too late.

 

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20. And the delivery?

If this is your first litter, it is best if someone (like your mentor) can be there with you.  If not in person, then on the phone if you need them.  There are many things that can happen, and experience is the best judge as to whether things are going normally.

You may or may not notice when her water breaks, as it is a small amount of fluid.  Some cats will want to be right with you, and others will want to go into their box and not come out.  Some queens will not mind if you help as required, and others will not allow you to touch the kittens.  Like people, queens respond to labor differently.  While some some labors are easy and the kittens slide out relatively easily, other females have a harder time, having to push very hard over several attempts, and some will even scream as they push.  Breech kittens are not really a problem, although they are often a bit harder to birth for the queen.  You will just need to be sure that the queen breaks the sack by the kitten's face as soon as possible to prevent the newborn from beginning to breathe while still in the fluid-filled sack.  I allow my queens to eat the placenta, as it helps naturally stimulate labor for the next kitten.  If she is uninterested or unable to eat it, simply remove it once she has finished with it.

Your cat's labor may be just a few hours, or may last up to 24 hours.  Often, you will notice a lack of contractions between kittens, but the visible contractions will resume as the next kitten becomes ready to be born.  Do not be hasty with the Oxytocin; if your cat can labor without it, the placentas all came and appeared to be in tact, and her post partum discharge is bright red a few hours after she is finished, there is no need to stimulate her contractions artificially.  Again, it is a good idea to call your mentor or vet BEFORE administering your laboring queen any medication if there is any question as to whether it is necessary.

 

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21. How can I determine the sex of a newborn kitten?

It is easiest to tell whether a kitten is male or female right after delivery, while their mother's hormones are causing their genetalia to appear swollen.  Within a few hours after they have been born, until between four to six weeks, it will be nearly impossible to determine their sex. 

It is highly unlikely that a litter will be all the same sex, so you will have an easy comparison at hand.  There should always be two openings (if not, call your vet right away).  In the female, the openings will be very close together, and the lower opening will be shaped like a slit, as in this photo.  The male will look different in that the openings will be further apart, and the lower opening will be very round.  The female in this photo has small folds of skin above her vaginal opening; if this was a male's testicles, they would not be separated in the center, but would be one lump still swollen after  delivery. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22. Is there anything special I need to do for the newborn kittens?

Well, you need to start with the basics.  Keep them warm, keep their bedding clean and dry, give the kittens and the mommy lots of love and attention - socialization starts with you, from day one.  Make sure they are all nursing and the the mother is licking them to stimulate them to go potty (she will clean up after them completely for several weeks, and, at first, they can not go potty without this stimulation).

The best advice that I think I have gotten is to weigh them daily.  If you just watch them, by the time you can see that a kitten is visibly losing weight, it is often too late.  While it is not abnormal for a kitten to not gain or even lose a little weight in 24 hours, it is is worth noting and monitoring closely.  Each kitten should gain a little bit every day.  Any kitten consistently losing weight or not gaining weight will need to be supplemented, preferably by tube feeding.  Tubing a kitten is the cleanest, quickest way to ensure that they are receiving the nutrition they require to grow.  I do not use store bought kitten formula; kittens seem to do better with a homemade concoction.  To make kitten formula, mix 3 Tbsp whole fat plain yogurt, 3 Tbsp goat's milk, 3 Tbsp water, and one egg yolk.  Warm to body temperature before tube feeding.  Consult your vet or mentor for details on how to properly tube feed.

 

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