BREEDING TO IMPROVE TYPE
First and foremost the Siamese BAC recommend that ‘no cat with any evidence of health problems or lack or vigour should be used for breeding’. In any breeding programme health must always be the first consideration over type.
In order to improve the type of cats we are producing we need to be able to look objectively at our queens and studs. Males with poor type and/or eye colour should not be offered at stud, as they will have a greater impact on the gene pool than queens. Some breeders think that if they have a girl with ears that are too upright, they should look for a boy with ears that are set too low. This is incorrect: just look for a boy who has correct type, and when you keep a kitten, choose the one with best type (not just the one that you have fallen in love with!), and keep doing that down the generations. Responsible breeding is about being objective about what you’re doing: choosing for health, strength, good temperament, and then good type to ensure our cats continue to look like Siamese.
Using a Modern stud with excellent type can improve the type of your kittens very quickly. Eye colour, once lost, can take generations to restore, so make sure you see the eye colour of your chosen boy, since a title does not guarantee perfection in every respect. One aspect of the old-style cats that modern breeders have admired is the excellent coat colour of the seals: a clear dark brown, and not the sooty black of some modern lines. The old-style chocolates are also generally better in coat pattern than modern cats, with good strong colour on the gloves and tail and a clear milk-chocolate tone. Be careful not to lose the good aspects of your cats by crossing with cats that have flaws in colour. Just because a cat is being offered at stud, or has won prizes, doesn’t mean it is a ‘perfect’ cat!
Many of the modern studs are a good size and are not extreme in type; old-style breeders need to use these boys in order to maintain a healthy gene pool. If we breed cats that are also good type, the modern breeders will be able to use our cats to strengthen their own lines too.
Before taking a queen to stud it is essential to get a copy of the stud’s pedigree to compare with your girl’s pedigree. There should be no duplicated cats in either pedigree; don’t rely on breeding software, as the inbreeding calculation may be based on a poor algorithm (two extremely inbred cats may give an inbreeding coefficient of 0% if they are unrelated to each other). If possible, go to view the stud before taking a queen, but if he lives a long distance away this may not be possible. Failing that a good colour picture of him is useful, but colour is easily enhanced in pictures, and accuracy may be affected by your screen settings if it is a digital image.
Breeding healthy cats with good type is not easy, but we need to persevere before this beautiful breed is lost, otherwise all the hard work of the club and its members will be for nothing especially if we wish to be taken seriously by the cat fancy.
Another important point is that the GCCF are concerned ‘that some breeders will only place cats on the non-active register because they want to operate commercially restrictive practices. This could have serious consequences in reducing the active gene pool to a very low level.’
Unavailability of female kittens on the active register discourages potential new breeders and will only damage the breed and the club in the future. It may also happen that those operating restrictive practices will have difficulty at some future date of expanding the gene pool of their line.
Many new breeds are experiencing serious difficulties in maintaining their breed because there are not enough breeders, thus not enough bloodlines. With the decline in breeding as a hobby all breeds are at risk from a declining gene pool, no matter how popular the breed, so be open to selling for breeding, but don’t be embarrassed about saying no or about asking really awkward questions to make sure the person who wants to breed is not going into it because they think it will be easy, cute and make them some money!