would be a lie to tell you that I don't love breeding, but I would not
want anyone to go into it without fully knowing what to expect,
Most importantly, I want to to stress that breeding will not make
you rich and, in fact, you'll be very lucky to even break
even. So, don't go into it
thinking it will make you money. Yes, after many years of paying
their dues and building a good reputation some breeders do make
money, but I don't know ANY who have gotten rich at it. In fact,
many consider it a rich "mans" hobby. We've
been at it now for 8 years and are still in the red.
The only reason to get into breeding is to improve the breed. You have to love the animals, each and every one to make it worthwhile and it is certainly not for everyone.
You ask: "If I can sell my kittens for $400-600 as pets and the really nice ones for lots more, why won't I make money???"
OK, lets talk money. Many people see the price of a Bengal (or other top pedigreed cat, dog, horse, etc.) and think the breeder MUST be making a bundle to charge so much for those kittens! Not so. A quality queen runs from $1000 up to as much as $2500 and sometimes even much more. A quality stud is usually just a bit less and stud fees run from $600 - $2000 and shipping adds another $150+ dollars (within the states). [If you decide to keep a stud you'll want to include the cost of developing his housing, as it is rare that a whole male will be able to run loose in the home (this is also required for many queens).] So, long before kittens are a consideration, some real money must be spent.
There are the normal vet bills, food, litter and the other usual equipment multiplied by however many cats you have. Not to mention the costs of registrations, pedigrees, showing and the related traveling expenses. Then, there will be the cost of extra vitamins/nutritionals for your queen during her pregnancy and maybe she'll deliver without added vet bills, but there can be many unexpected expenses: emergency post delivery exam, or even intervention during or just after delivery, sometimes X-rays or ultra sounds are necessary and even a C-section to the tune of $300 - $600 depending on your area and the nature of the complication.
Once the kittens are born, you may be able to enjoy them with a mom who is able to take care of their needs 100%. You will still need to spend ($$$) on vaccinations, about $35. each for the first shot including an exam, and then $16. each for the subsequent shots given by a tech w/out an exam. (Even giving my own vaccinations, they still run about $20-$30 per kitten in the long run.) You will also be spending extra on the food for mom and babies as they learn to eat and special safer litter for the kittens, if you use clumping litter normally.
Occasionally hand feeding a litter of kittens every 2-3 hours around the clock for 4-5 weeks is needed. Are you willing to give up your sleep for that amount of time? could you take that much time away from your job ($$$)? or do you have someone you could trust to help with that??? While we're on this subject, are you willing to drop everything at a moments notice to sit with a queen who is delivering?
Breeding naturally means you will be keeping your cats whole. And, of course at some point around age 6-9 months, your queen will start coming into heat. That can mean she is anything from extra loving and rubbing all over you and the furniture, to wailing, yelling, and moaning at the top of her lungs with her posterior in the air (AND this continues all day and into the middle of the night)! How often does this happen? Well, about every 2-5 weeks until she's bred and lasts for about a week to two weeks, each and every time.
In addition to their heat cycles, many queens will begin spraying about this time. Oh, yes, queens DO spray, too. On your stove, countertop, clean dish drainer, your socks or shirt left in the dirty clothes, etc, etc, etc!! Sound inviting? (Oh, don't forget the neighborhood Toms hanging around your place, serenading your queen all night to the delight of your neighbors. And, if you have a stud of your own, he'll be answering your girl AND those neighborhood toms, also at the top of his lungs.)
But OK, if you think you (and your neighbors) can handle that, lets proceed. Your next hurdle is, who you are going to breed your queen(s) to? Maybe the breeder you purchased her from will be interested in doing a stud service for you, but nothing is free. Stud fees run from $600 - $2000+ and while there can be a kitten back or similar arrangement - the owner of the stud will have to want a kitten out of your queen for that to be workable. If the breeder you bought the queen from isn't interested, you'll have to find a breeder who allows outside stud service and most do not - good luck.
But if you're still hanging in there, and you've found a male, you'll need to have your queen and the male examined by a vet ($$$) and deliver your girl to the owner of the male for a stay of a few days to several weeks. When she arrives home (hopefully pregnant) you'll want to keep a good eye on her for complications (infections, etc), increase her protein, calcium and vitamin intake ($$$) and prepare a safe place for the kittens to be delivered and raised. Read up on potential complications of delivery and prepare to stay up with her (sometimes for several days - the longest for us has been 4 nights and days, so far). [By this time, if you haven't spent about $200. in reading material and joined an email list of breeders who are experienced (at least that one is free) for additional important help and information, you are unprepared!!]
While most deliveries go without complications, there is usually at least some help required by humans. We've had to swing (CPR) kittens, rub them to dry or stimulate them, even interfere to save a kitten from a mom in pain who was attacking, and worst of all -- be prepared to put one down, if necessary (injury too severe to survive, birth defect, etc). We've been lucky enough to avoid the expense of C-Sections so far, but these are a very real possibility, so are X-rays and ultra sounds, and other possible meds. As the kittens are delivering, you need to keep track of the placentas to be sure they are all delivered, accounted for, and to make sure all kittens are nursing well. You must also keep an eye on your queen for possible infection, fever, extra bleeding for the next several days.
But, most important of all, you must find quality homes for the kittens you produce. Even if you just give them away they need to go to good homes. And, what will you do if they are not all placed?? Better answer this question before proceeding to any other decision. All of the above is meaningless if you can't answer this question.
If you're still thinking of breeding, here are some additional thoughts: Showing? Yes, you can breed without showing, but how will you know the quality that is out there and be able to assess the quality of your kittens without being at shows to see the very best?? Bengals are a developing breed and the quality is changing and improving every single year. You need to show to keep up. You also need to be able to prove to the public, by someone's opinion other than yours, that your cats are worth what you are asking for them. With titles you have someone else's unprejudiced opinion of your cat(s) and how they fit the standard. If you, personally don't show, by all means get your cats shown by the new owners of your kittens or have your breeders shown by handlers. And get to shows as often as possible as a spectator, at least!
What are the requirements of the county or city (or both) where you live? You may not even be allowed to own more that three cats (or any that are unaltered), you'll want to find this out before you start making any decisions. If you decide to go ahead you will need a mentor. A breeder who will help you learn the ropes, recommend books, help you learn genetics, husbandry practice, grooming and show etiquette, birthing techniques, avoiding common feline diseases, and the ins and outs of contracts.
One more thing to consider. As if all of this isn't enough, cats are a "livestock" whether or not we like to think of them like that, and are subject to diseases like any other animal. Your whole cattery can be wiped out or at least thrown into quarantine suddenly. You will be hit by major vet bills, unable to sell cats and kittens, or bring in new animals or even show. Not all illnesses can be vaccinated against and some do not have cures. FIP is only one of these and the effects on a cattery can be disastrous. Even if the worst doesn't happen, with these illnesses, you'll be faced with some hard decisions and heartaches, if they are contracted by any of your kitties. Read our "in memory" page to learn about some of these.
Other "surprises" that you can be infected with are ringworm, chronic nasal infections, and many others. You'll need to learn all you can to avoid these and to be able to deal with an outbreak, if the worst should happen.
If you still aren't frightened off, contact me and I'll be open and honest with you about any questions you still have. I would also be more than happy to mentor anyone serious about getting involved in breeding; but, I want you to go into it with your eyes open. <g>
If you are purchasing your Bengal(s) from a
this will not be an issue, as your contract will require
kitten be altered by a specified date or will be sold to you already
It is pure myth
that your cat will be happier unaltered!! They are far healthier
if altered and mine who are altered (retired breeders) get along better
with other cats, and are far more content than those who are perpetual
teenagers with raging hormones constantly in control. Have your
altered and do it at the youngest possible age!
Having one litter of kittens does not make a queen more content after altering, and there is some evidence that it does exactly the opposite. Normally, they don't know what they are missing if they haven't had "it"; and, they will be more kitten-like as adults if they are altered young (before sexual maturity). Breed them once and they'll know what "it" is. While it is rare, some queens will look for babies for years after the kittens are grown, altered or not. A cat can not read and will only know about babies and breeding by the messages from the hormones -- without hormones -- no desires.
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