Epidemiological analysis of reproductive performances and kitten mortality rates in 5,303 purebred queens of 45 different breeds and 28,065 kittens in France
Reproduction management and performances are evaluated in the feline species only through a limited number of animals and studies. Our objective was to provide reference figures in purebred cats, from a large-scale sample. Data were collected from an online software dedicated to cattery management (Breeding Management System®, BMS, Royal Canin, Aimargues, France). Information was recorded on a voluntary basis by French breeders between 2011 and 2014. Data were anonymously transferred for analysis. A total of 9,063 oestrous periods (in contact with a male) from 5,303 queens (45 breeds) were recorded from 1,521 breeders. Most matings (70.1%) occurred during increasing day length periods. The mean age at mating (±SD) was 2.7 ± 1.6 years for queens and 2.9 ± 1.9 years for tomcats. Pregnancy rate (based on breeders declaration) was 85.2%. Among queens declared pregnant, 8.4% failed to maintain pregnancy. Globally, 78% of the mated females gave birth to 28,065 kittens within 7,075 L. Mean litter size was 4.0 ± 1.9 kittens among which 8.5% were stillborn. Neonatal and paediatric mortality rate was 8.2%. In total, 16.0% of kittens born died before weaning. The results of this study are based on the largest feline database ever analysed. The figures collected can thus be used as reference to define average reproductive performances in numerous breeds for cat breeders. Further analysis will identify factors influencing reproductive performances and early mortality in the feline species.