Breeding Early Generation Cats

Raising Early Generation (EG) Bengals is a bit of a different ball game than raising other cats. There is a stigma that EG cats all eat their young and they are horrible mothers.  However, when you take a closer look, you'll find that the humans in the cat’s life often inadvertently cause those horror stories that we have all heard. 
The basic rule with Early Generation mothers is that they need to feel safe and secure.  The problem with this is that human beings and cats have two different ideas about safety and security.  When a human mother-to-be wants to feel safe and secure about her upcoming offspring, she goes to the doctor nonstop for ultrasounds, heart rate checks, testing for this, testing for that, and even just a little listen from the ol' Doc.   All of these trips to the Obstetrician make us feel good about our upcoming delivery.  But the exact opposite is true for an Early Generation Bengal.  Going to the vet to determine how many babies there are, making sure the babies are developing correctly, and checking mid-labor to make sure all the babies are out makes most Momma Filials stress out, and as we all know, stress is not good for pregnancy or delivery.

After listening to people's stories, I believe the common denominator in many of the failed EG litters is too much involvement by the owner.  Naturally, a breeder is very invested and emotional about her EG girl having kittens and wants to make sure everything is perfect.  But the most perfect thing a breeder can do for her EG cat is to leave her alone.  Provide your mother-to-be a quiet, dark space away from all people and all other animals.  The closer she gets to her due date, the more confined she should be.  If Momma cat doesn't demonstrate a strong desire for her person to be present, the Breeder’s best bet is to completely leave her be, and let Mother Nature take care of one of her own.

Have a good talk with a reproduction vet about how often a cat really needs a person to step in and help with the birthing process.  The answer will likely be – not too often.  Cats' bodies are amazing.  Even if the kitten aren't passed – for whatever the reason – a cat can calcify and reabsorb the fetuses.  While, of course, this isn't what we want to happen to our newest early generation babies, it does provide a nice safety net.  In most cases labor will not result in the loss of the mother cat's life; therefore, there is very little reason for a breeder to intervene during the pregnancy and labor of an early generation girl whose body instinctually does not want anyone around her.   The very best choice you can make for your girl is to let nature take control. 

Over the course of my life as a Bengal breeder, I've been blessed to be the caregiver of four different F1s during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, but I’ve yet to witness the birth of F2 babies.  More importantly, I don't have a single horror story to share of a F1 mother killing her babies.  I do have my own horror story with a later generation Bengal for whom I did not provide a safe, secure environment.  While separated, she was physically too close to other animals for her to instinctually feel safe.  I did not blame her; it was my fault.  I learned my lesson and did not repeat my actions.

s I cruise over the Internet, I see countless F1s in Bengal catteries.  I, personally, love it because I feel we can improve the quality of our breed when we control the quality of our breeding from the top down.  But I also fear the future of the F1s if breeders interfere too much with their pregnancy and labor.  I potentially see the following chain of events taking place:  F1s get run to the vet to check on all stages of pregnancy; breeders hover during delivery; the litters are not successful; the cat is blamed; and eventually the cat is dumped for being a poor mother.   If you want your EG girl to have a successful labor, feed her a nutritious diet with appropriate supplements.  Make sure she has enough calcium in her system prior to delivery, so her body can best utilize its own Pitocin.  Then, step aside and trust Mother Nature to take care of her child.  Sometimes instinct is more of an asset that reason.

* Note:  Please consult your veterinarian prior to making all breeding decisions.
   
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