Article

Prolific Cats: The Estrous Cycle

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Abstract

The estrous cycle of the female cat (queen) is unique among domestic species and consists of five phases: proestrus, estrus, interestrus, diestrus, and anestrus. A broad range of individual variation in cycle length exists among queens. Female cats are seasonally polyestrous, extremely fertile, and precocious. Ovulation may be induced by both copulatory and noncopulatory stimulation. Pregnancy may be diagnosed by physical examination, radiography, ultrasonography, and measurement of plasma relaxin concentrations.

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... Developing follicles secrete oestradiol at an increasing rate, so pro-oestrus is also accompanied by a gradual rise in plasma oestradiol concentrations (Griffin, 2001;Chatdarong, 2003;Bristol-Gould and Woodruff, 2006;. The indirect positive feedback of oestradiol on hypothalamic GnRH neurons via hypothalamic kisspeptin neurons up-regulates the activity of the HPG axis to further stimulate ovarian folliculogenesis and steroidogenesis (Kauffman et al., 2007;Smith et al., 2007;Popa et al., 2008). ...
... This phase of the oestrous cycle is referred to as dioestrus and is associated with a rise in plasma progesterone concentrations. Elevated progesterone concentrations have an important role in the maintenance of pregnancy in most species (Senger, 1997;Griffin, 2001). ...
... It has been well documented that eCG treatment in domestic cats triggers the development of pre-ovulatory follicles within two to three days, hence hCG is given to induce ovulation ~80 hours (i.e., 3.33 days) after the eCG treatment . Oestradiol concentrations increase gradually with follicular growth and peak in the presence of pre-ovulatory follicles (Griffin, 2001;Chatdarong, 2003;Bristol-Gould and Woodruff, 2006;. Furthermore, the behavioural changes associated with oestrus in domestic cats have been directly linked to elevated oestradiol concentrations (Michael and Scott, 1964;Wildt et al., 1981a;. ...
Thesis
breeding programs are a vital component of the conservation strategies for felids, but these programs are often hindered by poor reproductive performance. Knowledge of reproductive biology is crucial to improving in situ and ex situ felid breeding programs. This thesis provided the first comprehensive systematic review of the literature available on the reproductive biology of the extant felid species. It was concluded that the high prevalence of teratospermia and highly variable oestrous cycles in felids contribute towards their poor reproductive performance in captivity. The captive environment has been linked to reduced ejaculate quality and ovarian quiescence in felids, but it is difficult to elucidate whether this is due to captivity-related stress (i.e., elevated glucocorticoid (GC) concentrations) or other factors associated with captivity. This thesis aimed to determine whether a simulated endocrine stress response (GC treatment) altered the testicular and ovarian function of felids using the domestic cat as a model species. While epididymal sperm motility was unaffected by GC treatments, the percentage of morphological abnormal sperm was higher in GC-treated cats than in control cats. This would likely have an adverse effect on fertility as morphologically abnormal sperm are rarely involved in the fertilisation process. Glucocorticoid treatments did not affect the ovarian response of cats in which follicular growth and development was stimulated by exogenous gonadotrophins. However, ooplasm and zona pellucida morphology was graded poorer in GC-treated animals than control animals. Whether this corresponds to a reduction in fertility is unclear as the fertilisation capabilities of oocytes were not assessed. It would be worth investigating whether GC administration affects the natural oestrous cycles of cats, as elevated GC concentrations associated with captivity have been linked to ovarian quiescence. However, this would require an accurate and minimally invasive (i.e., low stress) method for monitoring the ovarian cycles of domestic cats. Thus, this thesis investigated whether accelerometry and infrared thermography could be used to monitor the ovarian function of cats. It was found that accelerometry could be used to detect an increase in activity of cats following the induction of follicular growth with equine chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG). Infrared thermography also identified changes in perivulvar temperature (PVT) driven by follicular development and ovulation, with PVT increasing as follicular growth occurred and decreasing following ovulation. Both methods show promise; however, further investigation into the use of accelerometry and IR thermography for monitoring ovarian function is needed. In conclusion, the results of thesis indicate that GC have adverse effects on the testicular and ovarian function of domestic cats. Thus, there is an urgent need to further investigate the effects of captivity-related stress on the reproductive performance of non-domestic felids. Furthermore, this thesis assessed two promising non-invasive methods for monitoring the ovarian activity of cats, with the findings being highly applicable for the management and breeding of non-domestic felids in captivity
... Sexually intact female cats, unlike dogs, are seasonally polyestrous; they cycle repeatedly throughout a breeding season, typically February, as the days get longer, through September in the northern hemisphere. 8,9 Therefore, testing during the breeding season may increase the opportunity to identify the LH surge because multiple surges may occur. In two previously published studies, researchers reported excellent sensitivity and specificity for using LH concentration as a determinant of female reproductive status of cats. ...
... In the southeastern USA, sexually intact female cats are likely to have multiple estrous cycles between January and June, before environmental temperatures are too high such that ovarian function may be negatively affected. 8,9 The number of false-positive test results was not higher for groups 1 and 2 (January-June) compared with the number of falsepositive test results for groups 3 and 4 (July-December). The sera of all 17 sexually intact female cats of group 2 (April-June) yielded expected negative test results. ...
... Many queens display rubbing and rolling behaviors regardless of reproductive status or stage or cycling; therefore, these behaviors are not specific indicators of ORS or ovarian tissue. 8,11 Diagnosis of ORS is often challenging, especially when cats are not displaying estrus behaviors at the time of presentation and when intervals between such displays are lengthy. Typically, diagnosis of feline ORS is based on a combination of clinical signs, history, vaginal cytology, sex hormone concentrations, and exploratory laparotomy. ...
Article
Objectives The aim of this study was to determine the accuracy of a commercial luteinizing hormone (LH) test as an aid in distinguishing between sexually intact and ovariectomized or castrated domestic cats. Methods Convenience serum samples collected from sexually intact female and male cats (n = 67) undergoing elective sterilization surgery and archived sera from ovariectomized and castrated cats (n = 54) were tested for LH using a commercial diagnostic assay. Test results were compared with the known reproductive status of the cats. Additionally, sera from sexually intact (n = 54) and ovariectomized (n = 94) queens were collected at specific times of the year to evaluate possible seasonal effects on test results. Results Overall test sensitivity was 89.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 82.3–94.2%), specificity was 92.6% (95% CI 87.1–96.2%) and accuracy was 91.1%. Analysis of results of female cats (n = 216) – sexually intact (n = 87) and ovariectomized (n = 129) – yielded a test sensitivity of 90.8% (95% CI 82.7–96.0%), a specificity of 92.3% (95% CI 86.2–96.2%) and accuracy of 91.7%. Analysis of the results of male cats (n = 53) – sexually intact (n = 19) and neutered (n = 34) – yielded test a sensitivity of 85.3% (95% CI 68.9–95.1%), a specificity of 94.7% (95% CI 74.0–99.9%) and accuracy of 88.7%. The sera of 10 intact queens unexpectedly yielded positive LH results; two of these cats were in estrus, based on visual inspection at the time of ovariohysterectomy. Test accuracy was 94.6% for those 148 samples collected at specific times of the year, with two samples each over three, 3 month periods yielding false-positive results. Conclusions and relevance The commercial point-of-care LH test is a useful adjunct to historical and physical examination findings for determination of reproductive status in domestic cats. Repeat testing 24 h later should be considered for those female cats with signs of estrus and initial positive test results.
... Prooestrus is relatively short in most felids (<24 hours), and is marked by the presence of small, developing, primary or secondary follicles (Bristol-Gould & Woodruff 2006, Brown 2011. Developing follicles secrete oestradiol at an increasing rate, so pro-oestrus is also accompanied by a gradual rise in plasma oestradiol concentrations (Griffin 2001, Chatdarong 2003, Malandain et al. 2011. The indirect positive feedback of oestradiol on hypothalamic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone neurons via hypothalamic kisspeptin neurons up-regulates the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis to stimulate ovarian folliculogenesis and steroidogenesis further (Smith et al. 2007, Popa et al. 2008). ...
... This phase of the oestrous cycle is referred to as dioestrus, and is associated with a rise in plasma progesterone concentrations. Elevated progesterone concentrations have an important role in the maintenance of pregnancy in most species (Senger 1997, Griffin 2001. ...
Article
• Knowledge of reproductive biology is crucial to improving in situ and ex situ breeding programmes for felids. We reviewed the available literature (223 publications) on the reproductive biology of all 38 felid species. • We found that 78% of the publications (173) were focused on either or both the oestrous cycles (84) or ejaculate traits (92) of felids. Literature was biased towards the domestic cat Felis catus (31), the cheetah Acinonyx jubatus (27), and the panthera lineage (66). There was a paucity of literature on the caracal lineage (7), the bay cat lineage (3), members of the domestic cat lineage other than the domestic cat (11), and several species of the ocelot lineage. • The mean duration of oestrus varies little between the different lineages and species (mean 5.2 days, range 1–10 days, nE = 2265). However, the duration of interoestrus varies greatly in most species (e.g. 1–118 days in the domestic cat). Gestation length also varies significantly between species, but is similar within each lineage and related to adult body size. Non‐pregnant luteal phases appear to persist for half the duration of pregnant luteal phases (48%, 21–71 days, nE = 256; c.f. previous reports of one‐third the duration of pregnant luteal phases). • Sperm motility (sperm motility index), sperm viability, and acrosome intactness are high in the fresh ejaculates of most felid species [69% (26–90%, nE = 2104), 69% (49–87%, nE = 443), and 84% (21–100%, nE = 1763), respectively]. Teratospermia is highly prevalent within Felidae, but is particularly problematic for the puma and lynx lineages [ejaculates with 76% (63–94%) and 79% (63–98%) abnormal sperm, respectively]. Teratospermia appears to be linked to low genetic diversity. • The maintenance and enhancement of genetic diversity through the use of assisted reproductive technologies should be a long‐term goal for felid conservation management. A short‐term management goal should be to improve the success of assisted reproductive technologies in felids by minimising captivity‐related stress, which can adversely affect fertility and ovarian activity.
... The most commonly reported mean duration of gestation in cats is approximately 65 days; mean litter size ranges from 3 to 5 kittens. [2][3][4][5][6] Without knowledge of breeding and conception dates, it can be difficult to determine a precise gestational day (ie, fetal gestational age) without the use of advanced diagnostic imaging methods. Crown-rump length measured via radiography and ultrasonography has been used to create a method for estimation of fetal gestational age in cats. ...
Article
Full-text available
To determine the earliest day of gestation at which relaxin could be detected in pregnant queens by use of a commercially available point-of-care test designed for use in dogs, and to calculate sensitivity and specificity of the test for pregnancy detection on any specified day of gestation. Evaluation study. 162 female cats (24 queens from a breeding colony, 128 stray and feral queens undergoing ovariohysterectomy, and 10 ovariohysterectomized cats). 24 queens were monitored for pregnancy. Blood samples were collected daily and tested for relaxin until 2 consecutive positive test results were obtained. The earliest day of pregnancy detection was estimated by counting backward from the day of parturition to the day of the first positive test. The uteri, ovaries, and any fetuses of 128 stray and feral queens undergoing ovariohysterectomy were examined grossly, and gestational day in pregnant queens was determined on the basis of fetal crown-rump length. Blood samples from these queens and from 10 cats ovariohysterectomized prior to the study were collected for relaxin testing. Pregnancy was detected by use of the relaxin test kit as early as gestational day 20; sensitivity of the test was 100% on and after gestational day 29. False-positive results were detected in 3 queens, 2 of which had large (approx 2×3-cm) ovarian cysts, resulting in a specificity of 95.9%. A commercially available relaxin test kit designed for use in dogs can be used to reliably detect pregnancy in cats.
... The disease is a hormone related lesion, characterized by high levels of endogenous progesterone that induces exaggerated mammary glandular tissue proliferation (HAYDEN, et al., Voorwald et al. 1989), before puberty, a few weeks after estrus, during pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, or due to exogenous synthetic progestins, such as megestrol acetate (MA) and acetate medroxyprogesterone (MPA) injections, commercially available as a depot contraceptive drug for entire female cats (GÖRLINGER et al., 2002;GRIFFIN, 2001;GUDERMUTH et al., 1997;HAYDEN et al., 1981;HAYDEN, et al., 1989;JELINEK et al., 2007;NOAKES et al., 2018). In male cats, MFEH has been described after MPA or MA injection, considering that these drugs are widely used for a variety of reproductive, behavioral, and dermatologic conditions, or after accidental contact with progestin components in the environment (DORN, et al, 1983;GÖRLINGER et al., 2002;HAYDEN, et al., 1989;JELINEK et al., 2007;LEIDINGER et al., 2011;MACDOUGALL, 2003;MAYAYO, et al., 2018;MEISL, et al., 2003;PAYAN-CARREIRA, 2013;SONTAS et al., 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
Thirty and forty days after a 50 mg medroxyprogesterone acetate injection, respectively, two mixed-breed, 7 and 8-month-old entire male cats presented diffuse enlargement of thoracic and abdominal mammary glands, with ulceration, abscessation and necrosis. One patient was treated with 10 mg/kg aglepristone, antibiotic therapy, analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound; however a worse enlargement of mammary glands, necrosis and clinical condition was noted two days after antiprogestin injection. The second patient was submitted to surgical procedure without previous medical treatment. A partial bilateral mastectomy and conventional orchiectomy were performed, and both patients presented no clinical abnormalities 10 days after surgical treatment. In the male cat, the interruption of progesterone associated mammary fibroepithelial hyperplasia cannot be based in gonadectomy, being antiprogestin treatment the primary approach. Mastectomy can be a treatment option in selected cases, such as the two cases presented here, in case of antiprogestin treatment failure or in case of extensive ulceration, necrosis and risk of sepsis.
... Considering the effect of climate on the birth rate of cats, we assign two birth probabilities, i.e., 5.6/365 for the period from April to September and 1.4/365 for the rest time of the year. The average age of maturity in cats is chosen to be 240 days as is reported in [30]. Warner [20] carried out a census of cats in the rural area of Illinois, which indicated a strong correlation between the age of a cat and its risk of death. ...
Article
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a unicellular protozoan that infects up to one-third of the world's human population. Numerous studies revealed that a latent infection of T. gondii can cause life-threatening encephalitis in immunocompromised people and also has significant effects on the behavior of healthy people and animals. However, the overall transmission of T. gondii has not been well understood although many factors affecting this process have been found out by different biologists separately. Here we synthesize what is currently known about the natural history of T. gondii by developing a prototype agent-based model to mimic the transmission process of T. gondii in a farm system. The present model takes into account the complete life cycle of T. gondii, which includes the transitions of the parasite from cats to environment through feces, from contaminated environment to mice through oocysts, from mice to cats through tissue cysts, from environment to cats through oocysts as well as the vertical transmission among mice. Although the current model does not explicitly include humans and other end-receivers, the effect of the transition to end-receivers is estimated by a developed infection risk index. The current model can also be extended to include human activities and thus be used to investigate the influences of human management on disease control.
... Given that 54% of all admissions were cats aged less than 3 months of age, and that almost half of these were surrendered, it is clear that, despite the high prevalence of desexing in domestic cats in Australia, excess breeding is still a key contributor to shelter admissions. There is evidence that many owned cats produce kittens prior to being desexed, 32 with reports that at least 13-20% of owned female cats had produced a litter prior to desexing. 33,34 Although female cats can have their first oestrus as early as 3.5 months, 32 approximately 45% of cats in one USA study 34 were at least 1 year old when they were desexed and it was calculated that the average sterilised cat had 2.46 kittens before being sterilised. ...
Article
Full-text available
A lack of information limits understanding of the excess cat problem and development of effective management strategies. This study describes cats entering Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland shelters and identifies risk factors for euthanasia. Data for cats entering relevant shelters (July 2006-June 2008) were obtained from the RSPCA's electronic database. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify risk factors for euthanasia. Of 33,736 cats admitted, 46% were adult cats (≥3 months) and 54% were kittens (<3 months). The most common reason for admission was stray (54%), followed by owner surrender (44%). Euthanasia was the most common outcome (65%), followed by adoption (30%). The odds of euthanasia were lower for kittens and for cats that were desexed prior to admission. Of the strays, 8% had been desexed. For cats of similar age, sex, desexed and feral status, stray cats were more likely to be adopted than owner-surrenders. Strategies are needed to reduce numbers of cats admitted and euthanased. Given the high proportion of admissions that were kittens, reducing the incidence of delayed sterilisation of owned cats may be an important strategy for reducing the number of unwanted kittens. Many cats admitted as strays were rehomable, but given the high proportion of admissions that are strays, further research on stray populations is needed. Future studies of cats entering shelters would be enhanced if data collection definitions, categories and methods were standardised.
... Younger intact females appear to be most at risk [26,35,41,42]. Patients have presented as early as six months of age [26,[43][44][45]. ...
Chapter
The mammary glands are an extension of the integumentary system that extend in two rows along the ventral body wall. These accumulations of glandular and connective tissue are responsive to hormonal changes that allow milk production to feed litters immediately following delivery. Both females and males have mammary glands. These are rudimentary in males and remain small in young, prepubescent‚ and nulliparous females. Both males and females can develop abnormalities in mammary tissue. Therefore, palpation of the mammary chains is a critical component of the comprehensive canine and feline physical examination. This chapter covers three of the most common mammary presentations in companion animal practice: mastitis, feline mammary fibroepithelial hyperplasia (FEH), and mammary neoplasia.
... Numbers of adult cat and kitten admissions combined were lowest in late winter and early spring in both years and highest in the warmer months (November to May). This annual cycle of admissions is consistently reported [4,8] and is due to a spring-summer influx of kittens, reflecting the cat's breeding cycle [10,48], rather than changes in numbers of adult cat admissions [8]. Desexing programs targeted for autumn and winter, and to areas of high intake of stray and owned kittens, are recommended to prevent kittens born the previous spring and summer from producing kittens the following spring and summer. ...
Article
Full-text available
This retrospective study of cat admissions to RSPCA Queensland shelters describes changes associated with improved outcomes ending in live release in 2016 compared to 2011. There were 13,911 cat admissions in 2011 and 13,220 in 2016, with approximately 50% in both years admitted as strays from the general public or council contracts. In contrast, owner surrenders halved from 30% to 15% of admissions. Percentages of admissions ending in euthanasia decreased from 58% to 15%. Only 5% of cat admissions were reclaimed in each of these years, but the percentage rehomed increased from 34% to 74%, of which 61% of the increase was contributed by in-shelter adoptions and 39% from non-shelter sites, predominately retail partnerships. The percentage temporarily fostered until rehoming doubled. In 2011, euthanasias were most common for medical (32% of all euthanasias), behavioral (36%) and age/shelter number (30%) reasons, whereas in 2016, 69% of euthanasias were for medical reasons. The number of young kittens euthanized decreased from 1116 in 2011 to 22 in 2016. The number of cats classified as feral and euthanized decreased from 1178 to 132, in association with increased time for assessment of behavior and increased use of behavior modification programs and foster care. We attribute the improved cat outcomes to strategies that increased adoptions and reduced euthanasia of young kittens and poorly socialized cats, including foster programs. To achieve further decreases in euthanasia, strategies to decrease intake would be highly beneficial, such as those targeted to reduce stray cat admissions.
... Feline mammary fibroepithelial hyperplasia occurs in intact queens of any age, in pregnant females and in female or male cats under progestin treatment67814]. It predominantly affects younger intact female cats, a segment of the population that also presents an increased ratio of spontaneous ovulation [15,16]. The reported age range for FEH is 6 months to 13 years17181920. ...
... This finding could suggest a number of possibilities: sterilization messages are not reaching owners; sterilization of owned cats may be occurring after one or more litters are produced; reports on the proportions of owned cats that are sterilized may not be representative of the owned cat population in Australia; or the sterilization data presented in this study is potentially misleading due to being incomplete. As female cats can have their first oestrus from 3.5 months of age [42,43], delaying sterilization of cats may be a serious problem for the management of the domestic cat population [9,44]. Approximately 45% of sterilized cats in Massachusetts, U.S. were reportedly sterilized after 12 months of age, and the number of kittens born to cats that were eventually sterilized was not significantly different from those born to cats that remained sexually entire [44]. ...
Article
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Simple National Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) shelter admission data were utilized to examine cats presented to Australian animal shelters and reasons for surrender. This study reports the most commonly cited reasons for an owner to surrender and found lower than expected sterilized cats. Despite high numbers of cats admitted to animal shelters annually, there is surprisingly little information available about the characteristics of these cats. In this study, we examined 195,387 admissions to 33 Australian RSPCA shelters and six friends of the RSPCA groups from July 2006 to June 2010. The aims of this study were to describe the numbers and characteristics of cats entering Australian RSPCA shelters, and to describe reasons for cat surrender. Data collected included shelter, state, admission source, age, gender, date of arrival, color, breed, reproductive status (sterilized or not prior to admission), feral status and surrender reason (if applicable). Most admissions were presented by members of the general public, as either stray animals or owner-surrenders, and more kittens were admitted than adults. Owner-related reasons were most commonly given for surrendering a cat to a shelter. The most frequently cited owner-related reason was accommodation (i.e., cats were not allowed). Importantly, although the percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized (36%) was the highest of any shelter study reported to date, this was still lower than expected, particularly among owner-surrendered cats (47%). The percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized was low even in jurisdictions that require mandatory sterilization.
Research
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A biodiversity conservation strategy for Catalina Island, California
Chapter
Behavior can change as a result of medical problems or physiological changes, and behavior changes are likely to be the first signs of stress, disease, and poor welfare in any animal. If shelter operations, behavior, and/or medical staff identify behaviors that may have an underlying medical cause, they can be addressed immediately, relieving suffering and increasing the adoptability of the animal. Conversely, if medical conditions that cause or exacerbate problematic behaviors are missed, time may be wasted on training or attempted behavior modification, thus prolonging suffering and time spent in the shelter. Only by safeguarding both physical and emotional health can we improve overall quality of life for animals in our care, facilitate their placement in homes, and help prevent their return to the shelter.
Chapter
Behavior can change as a result of medical issues or physiological changes. It is well understood that dogs and cats continue to express many of the behavioral patterns expressed by their wild ancestors. The behaviors typical of sick animals represent a highly adaptive behavioral strategy, so it is not surprising that many of these behaviors have been retained in spite of domestication. A variety of different studies have suggested that monitoring of sickness behaviors in the cat may be an excellent additional means of evaluating feline welfare and that the cats' behavior is a more reliable indicator of their level of stress than their physiological responses. Urine-marking behavior is more common in intact dogs and is considered a normal form of communication. When neutered animals mark, it is often due to situations involving conflict, frustration or anxiety.
Chapter
More cats than dogs enter most animal shelters in the United States. Providing care for them presents unique challenges for a variety of reasons. Proper husbandry of cats in the shelter requires an understanding of the wide spectrum of feline lifestyles and an approach tailored to the individual needs of each group. This chapter presents key aspects unique to the husbandry of cats. A holistic approach is essential to ensure delivery of proper cat care in the shelter. Handling and restraining cats of varying ages, personality types, social experiences, and stress levels requires skill, knowledge of normal feline behavior and signaling, finesse, and proper equipment. Identification of cats in the shelter by use of a neckband, collar, and tag and/or a microchip is essential for preventive healthcare and ongoing surveillance of individuals, particularly where animals are grouphoused. The chapter tabulates core vaccines for shelter cats, and common drugs for parasite treatment and control.
Chapter
Physical examination should always include determination or verification of each patient's sex. Obviously, this is essential in the context of spay‐neuter programs. Determining the sex of a dog is generally straightforward and can almost always be quickly accomplished through physical examination, including simple visual inspection of the external genitalia. Careful inspection of the perineal area is necessary in order to determine the sex of a cat or kitten. In dogs, hormonal evaluation is the most definitive pre‐surgical diagnostic test available for determination of neuter status. More recently, tests for measuring serum concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH) and anti‐Mullerian hormone (AMH) have been investigated as diagnostic aids for determining neuter status in dogs and cats. Spay‐neuter programs should have policies and protocols in place to optimize identification of previously neutered male dogs and cats and to ensure proper sterilization of cryptorchid animals.
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the epidemiology of cat populations and the unique features that contribute to the surplus of cats, as well as providing an evidence‐based review of the controversies surrounding their management. Cats’ unique and impressive reproductive capabilities, coupled with their ability to survive and even thrive in most environments, have resulted in a population of millions of outdoor cats that present a number of management challenges for the communities in which they reside. Significant concern exists regarding the individual cats’ health and welfare, their role in disease transmission, nuisance behaviors, and their impact on wildlife and the environment. Public opinion on the cats and the strategy most appropriate for their management remains divided and can be highly contentious. Opinions on the most appropriate method(s) for the management of community cats vary significantly, although most people recognize the need for some type of intervention.
Chapter
Assessing a community's need for spay/neuter services and reviewing the various methods to deliver such services helps direct time, money, and effort toward development of high-quality, high-volume programs that best suit the community's particular circumstances. Establishing which spay/neuter services exist for shelter, rescue groups and privately owned animals as well as for free-roaming cats is a necessary step in the assessment process. For privately owned animals, the cost of spay/neuter surgery factors heavily into the decision on whether to have the procedure performed on their cat or dog. A key goal of a spay/neuter program is to reduce shelter animal intake. Evaluating relevant statistics can help a community target its spay/neuter services for the impact on reducing shelter admissions. This chapter describes five spay/neuter program models: spay/neuter clinics located within animal shelters, mobile spay/neuter clinics (MSNC), mobile animal surgical hospitals (MASH) spay/neuter programs, stationary spay/neuter clinics, and subsidized spay/neuter program in private veterinary hospitals.
Article
The nature of copulation-induced LH release in the domestic cat was assessed by measuring serum LH levels during each of 60 estrous periods studied in 13 animals. LH was measured by radioimmunoassay in serum samples collected at -48, -24, 0, 0.17, 1, 4, 8, and 24 h after copulation or contact with a male. The queens were permitted either 1 copulation (n = 18), 4copulations during a 21-81 min period (n = 23), ad libitum (8-12) copulatory activity for 4 h (n = 13), mounting without intromission (n = 4) or no mounting (n = 2). The subsequent occurrence of reflex ovulation was determined by radioimmunoassay of luteal phase serum progesterone levels. The incidence of ovulation in trials involving zero, single, and multiple copulations was 0%, 50%, and 100%, respectively. At 10 min after copulation, LH levels in ovulating cats (17 ± 2 ng/ml) were higher (P<0.05) than the levels (8 ± 2 ng/ml) observed at 10 min in the nonovulating once-mated cats. LH levels at 1 h in ovulating once-mated cats (34 ± 9 ng/ml) were lower (P<0.05) than LH levels present at 1 h in cats allowed multiple matings (73 ± 11 ng/ml). Peak levels of LH occurred at 1-4 h in cats copulating 8-12 times in a 4 h period, and were higher (P<0.05) than those in cats permitted only 4 copulations (121 ± 24 vs 89 ± 15 ng/ml). LH levels had returned to baseline at 4 h in nonovulating once-mated cats (1.6 ± 0.4 ng/ml). Levels remained elevated until 8 h in ovulating cats and were lower (P<0.05) in once-mated cats (9 ± 3 ng/ml) than in cats mated 4-12 times (28 ± 4 ng/ml). At 24 h, levels were basal in all treatment groups. The results suggest that 1) LH release in cats ovulating in response to one copulation is similar in magnitude and duration to that reported in rabbits, 2) ovulation failure in some once-mated cats is due to inadequate LH release, and 3) the magnitude and duration of LH release, in cats allowed to copulate at natural intervals, are dependent on the number of copulations.
Article
Several workers, notably Flower (Proc. Zool. Soc. London: 145, 1931) and Mellen (the science and mystery op the cat, 1940) have tried to discover the extreme verifiable age in Felis domeslica . This is no easy exercise—it is worth undertaking since mammals kept as pets are the only forms under close observation throughout life in sufficient numbers, and under sufficiently protected conditions, for occasional individuals to approach the absolute upper limit of longevity for the species. At present there are no published actuarial data for any carnivore, but the potential maximum age of cats is known to be greater than in any breed of dog. The rate of increase in the force of mortality at high ages may well show large interspecific differences, to which maximum ages could provide a pointer. Flower ( loc. cit. ) recognised that cats can exceed …
Article
THE BREEDING CYCLE of the cat is characterized by a definite anestrous period. The data of Foster and Hisaw (1) indicate that in the region of Madison, Wisconsin, cats are usually anestrous from September to January although a few may be found in this phase of the cycle at still later dates. Extensive observations by Windle (2) on several hundred cats over a period of 11 years show that estrus rarely occurs (under laboratory conditions in Chicago, Illinois) during the season beginning with July and ending with January. Accordingly, Windle regards the period from February to June, inclusive, as the normal estrous season. Experience over the past 3 years in Cambridge, Massachusetts also confirms these observations on the duration of the anestrous period. Few animals exhibited spontaneous estrus in the early part of January (table 1). Many investigators have induced estrus during the anestrous period by the injection of appropriate hormones.
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Sound, active programs for management and disease control are crucial to the long-term viability of a feline reproduction colony. The guidelines provided here may be individually tailored for management programs in catteries of all sizes. The clinician involved with the health care of reproducing cats incurs a broad range of responsibility, and the impact of incomplete application of basic principles must be appreciated.
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A comprehensive understanding of behavioral-gonadal-endocrine interrelationships is a prerequisite for the effective management of any feline breeding program. Some of the topics discussed in this article are seasonality of breeding behavior, problems associated with copulation, suggested mating schemes, and pharmacologic control of reproductive cyclicity.
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A period of extended daylight (more than 12 hours per day) following one of short days induces oestrus. The longer the short-day period, the more pronounced the reaction. This change from short-day to long-day periods can be successfully repeated at least 6 times in a year. However, the number of litters produced per year is largest when a regular 12 h light/dark cycle is maintained.
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The development of the nervous system can be studied only if the age of the embryo is exactly known. Since it is difficult to control reproduction in female cats, we tried to time fertilization very precisely to within one hour by using either artificial insemination, or by mating females in oestrus induced by light programming. In one trial, this programming was associated with male or female stimuli according to the work of McClintock (1971, 1978, 1984) and Preti et al. (1986).
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THE occurrence of breeding is closely associated with climatic conditions and the periodicity of the seasons. Increased length of illumination advances the date of the first oestrus in mammals like the ferret1,2, and was briefly reported by Dawson3 to have a similar effect on cats maintained in Cambridge, Mass.