by Jette Eva Madsen.

This cat look like it was breed by...

For a lot of the ambitious persons one of the most important issues when they start breeding is to create a family of cats with a look or some traits that immediately tell everybody that the cat in question belongs to that family.

In my lines...

To breed a family of NFO's where the members of the family posses the same traits is in breeders slang called to breed a line of cats. Breeders will say: " All cats in my line are very big. The lines behind my female all have large eyes." Etc.

This slang has probably appeared because some of the first, serious and methodical breeders used the type of inbreeding called line breeding to achieve their goal.

Despite the fact that a lot of breeders constantly talk of their line of cats only very few breeders succeed with the task of creating a family of cats with its own look. In today’s NFC-world you can count the few breeders that really can talk about their line of cats or their family of cats on one hand.

Most breeders start out with the best intentions but very fast we keep a kitten not because it has the traits needed to fulfil our goals but because that kitten was the sweetest of the litter. We visit other breeders and there we fall in love with kittens that totally lack the traits we wish our family of cats to have, but we buy them anyway.

What is needed to create a family with unique shared traits

In order to create a family of cats with its own traits or combination of traits a lot of conditions have to be fulfilled. The most important are:

  • You have to master the breeding and selection procedure in such a way that most of the kittens you breed share the same traits.
  • You have to have 4-7 generations of cats with the same look before people will start recognising the look as the look of your family of cats.
  • You have to breed a certain number of cats in order to be able to sell so many show-and breeders quality kittens that people will recognise the cats as belonging to "your" family. A realistic number of kittens lies between 150-300.

Some breeders mistake a pedigree filled with their breeding name for an easily recognised family of cats. A pedigree filled with just one pedigree names tell a story about the breeders ability to keep the cost of breeding at a low level more than it tells the story of carefully selected matings that will enhance the look of his family of cats and make him reach his goal.

Guidelines to the breeding program

If you wish to start creating a family of cats that look alike there are several ways to do this. Common for all of them is that you need patience, you need to stick to your goal and you need to remember your goal. If you select for size don't let colour of the cat influence your choice. If you select for tabby pattern don't buy a black/white kitten.

  • When you select your founder cats it is important that you start out with cats that come as close to your goal as possible.
  • It is very important that the parents of the founder cats and preferably also the grandparents of the cats in question posses the traits that is important for you and for your goal. If the ancestors do not have the traits you find important the cat you are looking at is just a lucky shut, and you cannot be sure the cat will pass on the trait you are looking for when you breed the cat.
  • Try to start out with cats that come as close as possible to each other in the traits that is important for you. If you wish to breed strong chins, don't start out with a cat with a week chin. If you wish to breed tabbies don't start out with solid cats.
  • Try to avoid too much inbreeding at an early state. A lot of breeders will take the easy way out and make direct backdating at their first good male or make halfsibling matings. That brings fast results but after the generation of close inbreeding you have lucked yourself up completely, and you have to find cats that are genetically totally unrelated to your founder cats. That will usually set your work back at least one and more likely two generations. Try to perform only slight inbreeding and make sure that you keep taking inn a bit of new blood to ensure that you can go on breeding with the cats you have chosen from your first generations.
  • Regardless how much room you have for cats you goal will more easily and more likely be obtained if you know some breeders with nearly the same goal as your own. You can co-operate about your goals and especially when it comes to borrow each others males you can prevent the keeping of some kittens and just borrow your fellow breeders male.

How long time does it take??

It will take you some time. Don't rush and believe you are much smarter than all the other breeders. It will probably take you between 10 and 20 years to create a family of Norwegian Forest Cats with a look that people will recognise. That is the time it takes for a cattery with around 10 cats to create 4-7 generations and 150-300 kittens.

When have I reached my goal of establishing a family of NFC's with its own look?

You may think you have created a family of NFC's with the same look. But this is a matter where you cannot be your own judge. You have not reached your goal until other people are able to discover the cats belonging to your family of NFC's without knowing the name of the parents.