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Species: cat | Category: behaviour | Submitted: 3 July 2010 05:51PM | viewed 31830 times
Q Tina asks:

Hello - I breed and shown persian cats. I imported an unproven, entire, male well over a year ago. Personality loving, likes to be stroked, but very quiet and keeps himself to himself. On arrival, he lived in my house with my other male and few females. They got on well, neither sprayed. About 10 months ago, I separated them as I sensed my new male felt inferior. In all the time he has been with me, he has never shown any interest in my females whatsoever - they have been calling and throwing themselves at him. He has lived with a young 1 year old female all this time, no reaction at all. I am so disappointed, I do not know what to do. I have not been to my vet yet, but many breeder friends say he will work when he is ready, others feel its gone on too long. Can you recommend a specialist vet I can take him to, or is there a fertility test or vitamins etc, that will help. He has stunning eye colour and I feel he will break my heart.

Q Our vet says: I can certainly understand your concern, however it would be useful to know how old your male is now, since some males can be later developers. This often occurs in males who are isolated from other cats and these toms may have low testosterone levels, even at a year of age.

One of the first things you should check (or have checked by a vet if you are unsure) is that both testes have descended and are present in the scrotal sacs. You should be able to gently palpate these yourself as two "balls" in the scrotum. As an experienced breeder you have probably already done this but I feel I must include this information to be thorough!

A second anatomical problem which may be present in male cats is a persistent frenulum. This is a fold of tissue which attaches the penis to the prepuce during development. As a cat matures this tissue should break down but rarely may persist. The male cat can then not achieve intromission. Surgery can correct this problem if it is present.

Chromosomal abnormalities are known to occur in cats which can affect the fertility of the male. This is commonly seen in male tortoiseshell cats who are almost certainly infertile. There is a possibility that this type of problem could occur in any breed or colour of cat. Does your male have secondary sexual characteristics typical of the entire male? Most entire toms will be larger than females and develop a typical "tom face" with wide cheeks, they also tend to have thicker skin than females and their urine smells strongly. If your male cat does not have these characteristics yet there is some reason to be suspicious.

Some infections (eg panleucopenia) may cause testicular abnormalities if they are aquired early in life. Even if your cat has both testicles it may be worth taking him along to your vet to check that they seem to be the right size and are not smaller that would normally be expected.

Trauma to the scrotum perhaps from a previous cat bite may cause fertility problems later, so do think about any fights which may have occurred in the past. Penile hair rings which can easily be removed are sometimes a source of fertility problems too.

Is your cat the correct weight? Being too thin or too fat can cause problems with libido.

Hypothyroidism or other chronic disease may be a reason for infertility in males. Your vet can check for hypothyroidism with a blood test.

Psychological issues may also cause a tom cat to ignore females in heat. If he is inexperienced and has previously tried to mate an aggressive female this may make him very wary of trying again (even with a very receptive female). Equally, changes of routine (such as you mention with the change of companionship) may be enough to upset a sensitive young male cat and be expressed as a lack of libido even when queens are very much in heat.

I would suggest you take your cat to your regular vet in the first instance, since some of the more common problems can easily be checked with simple examination or blood samples if necessary. From there you may wish for a referral or you might consider keeping your male with other friendly cats in a very stable environment for a little while longer to see if he matures.

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