Maine Coon Cattery

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Outcross breeding

On first learning about breeding cats, I started wondering : how long can one keep on breeding with the same lines in a breed (such as is done with the Maine Coon), without prolonging strong inbreeding and going toward the total  healthcollaps of that breed? Inbreeding problems will probably be known to most of you.. In case they are not, I 'll give you a unpleasant list of nasty healthproblems that occur after ongoing inbreeding:

To breed a pedigree animal alway implies having to deal with a delicate balance between either maintaining or letting go of type. When new gene material is introduced, the latter usually occurs and causes a higher degree of unpredictability of looks. Bringing fresh genematerial into the lines implies keeping a delicate balance between on the one hand maintaining a certain look and on the other hand possibly letting go of that look. In short: more unpredictability. The schedule below here, gives a clear oversight of all the the possible actions and reactions that can occur when choosing for inbreeding vs outcrossing.





(Mating of closely related individuals)

Produces uniform or predictable offspring.
Hidden (recessive) genes show up and can be eliminated.
Individuals will "breed true" and are "pure."
Doubles up good genes.
Eliminates unwanted traits.

Doubles up on faults and weaknesses.
Progressive loss of vigor and immune response.
Increased reproductive failures, fewer offspring.
Emphasis on appearance means accidental loss of "good" genes for other attributes.
Genetically impoverished individuals.

(Mating of less closely related individuals)

Avoid inbreeding of very closely-related cats, but cats are still "pure".
Produces uniform or predictable offspring.
Slows genetic impoverishment.

Require excellent individuals.
Does not halt genetic impoverishment, only slows it down.

OUTCROSSING (Mating of unrelated individuals within the same breed)

Brings in new qualities or reintroduces lost qualities.
Increases vigor.
Cats are still "pure".

Less consistency and predictability of offspring.
May have to breed out unwanted genes accidentally introduced at same time.
May be hard to find individuals which are true outcrosses.

HYBRIDIZATION (Mating of unrelated individuals of different breeds)

Brings in new qualities or reintroduces lost qualities.
Increases vigor, may improve immune system and reproductive capacity.
Introduces totally new traits e.g. color. Fur type.
May result in new breeds.
The offspring are considered "impure" for many generations.

Unpredictable - new traits may not all be desirable.
Must choose outcross breed whose qualities complement or match own breed.
May take years to eliminate unwanted traits/loss of type.
May take years to get consistent offspring.
Produces many variants not suitable for use in breeding program

Copyright 1996, 2001, 2003 Sarah Hartwell

In what way do I want to breed?

To make a well educated choice, I first learned (and still learn) about  cat healthcare and cat care in general. I read all kinds of book about it and go to educational meetings. Furthermore I try to pick to brains of experienced breeder, vets + geneticsmajors. I also study pedigrees of big Showwinners and their offspring as well as Foundationcats & their offspring, trying to get a good "feel" of their types. The pawped-website is a great help of course.

I concluded that my breedingchallenge is : breeding a Maine Coon cats that will fit the standard as much as possible, but are not as closely  related to each other as most showline Maine Coon cats are. The so called Outcrossing. In my case, the Maine Coon Standard, is the Fifé standard, but this does not imply that the other standards are without value.  I do take different paths to get to that target; I may for instance make showline/foundationcat or foundation/foundationcat-combinations.

For Devon Rexes the below mentioned standards do not apply

To prevent misunderstandings, I would like to give your the Pawpeds definition of an "outcross"cat.

For further Maine Coon information, please have a look at the Pawpeds Heritage Site:


A word of thanks

Succesful breeding (read: fullfilling one's own targets)depends for a large part on the trust and aid of co-breeders.

All you people out there who help and support me: THANK YOU!!!

I hope to experience your catlove-and-knowledge for many more years.

"No man is an island"

Marjan Boonen

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