FELINE HUSBANDRY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: AN INTERVIEW WITH NIELS C. PEDERSEN
What originally inspired you to author your book, Feline Husbandry: Diseases and Management in the Multiple Cat Environment?
I needed to take a sabbatical leave and decided to stay at Davis and write two books. I was going through a serious bout of depression, due both to my Scandinavian background and complete over-work and mental exhaustion. I started the book Feline Infectious Diseases first, and used that as a springboard to the husbandry text. I set a goal of writing just a few pages a day, and as you all know, if you even write one page a day, you will end up with a book in a year.
PARTNERS IN SEEKING SOLUTIONS: UC DAVIS RESEARCHERS AND CAT BREEDERS WORK TOGETHER AGAINST FELINE DISEASE
The quest for solutions to companion animal disease can be a long and complex journey. To achieve success, veterinary researchers must use a wide variety of techniques and skills that include clinical work, laboratory experimentation and analysis, evaluation of related research, fundraising and grant writing, and above all, patience and persistence. Another key component is collaboration, which often involves academic colleagues.
But researchers at the UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health and the Koret Center for Veterinary Genetics of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory also work closely with community practice veterinarians, animal shelters, rescue groups, pet owners, and breeders to find ways to identify, treat, and prevent disease.
TAKING AND STORING DNA FROM LITTERS OF KITTENS
UC Davis researchers recommend that breeders take and store DNA samples from all kittens in litters after weaning, and label and save them in their homes. They should also include samples from the parents whenever possible.
Feline Husbandry Book
“Feline Husbandry Book”, authored and edited by Dr. Niels C. Pedersen of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, was originally published in 1991. The book struck a chord with breeders of purebred cats, is a respected resource covering all aspects of managing feline health in catteries. The author’s intent is that the book should be a highly useful tool to improve the way cats are managed by both new and experienced breeders of purebred cats. Only 3800 copies of the book were printed, and it is now out of print. Copies of the book have become collector’s items, difficult to find and expensive to purchase. Demand for the book remains strong, and large parts of the text are both current and relevant.
The Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH) is pleased to provide a copy of the book in .pdf format on this web site as a resource for cat breeders who are unable to find a copy elsewhere.
WHEN FIP HITS A CATTERY
Researchers know that genetics play a strong part in FIP – at least 50% of the incidence or more has a heritable component. They also know that susceptibility is carried both in paternal and maternal lines, but have suggested, at a minimum, that paternal lines that throw kittens that die from FIP not be used for breeding. This is because toms breed multiple queens and sire dozens or hundreds of kittens, and have the greatest influence on how bloodlines are developed. This is true of a lot of diseases – the “Founder effect.” If females are genetically weak, and bred to weak toms, that is when you get into problems. If toms are genetically strong, and queens are genetically weak, the male’s resistance genes seem to mask this weakness.
The best scenario is to not breed either susceptible toms or queens, but not using problem toms is the best possible alternative in the interest of doing the most with the least disruption of breeding practices and bloodlines. However, if there are multiple losses from FIP in a litter, remember that susceptibility comes both from the paternal and maternal lines. It’s also important to consider the cat – if you believe the cat may be at risk for FIP, avoiding the stress of being a breeding cat may help prevent the disease for that individual.