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  • Writer's pictureKaylee Sanabria

Intact male cats & "cages"

Updated: May 7

The question of how to house intact male cats has been debated for far too long, whether among several breeders or between breeders and non-breeders. Personally, I believe that all sides are being very judgmental and are failing to consider the individual cats, the options available to breeders for housing their males, and why breeders are required to do it in the first place. I also find it amusing that rescues are praised and celebrated while keeping cats in smaller cages than any ethical breeder has ever had, I never see outrage toward them.

Why do breeders seclude their males?

It is common for breeders to put their males in what some people would call "cages" meaning a catio, cattery outside of the breeders home like a modified storage building or spare spaces like garages or rooms within or outside of their homes, some breeders put their males in smaller areas like a dog kennel big enough for the cat, food and litter box while they are sleeping or not home and then they let them roam their house in stud pants while they are home and awake, one of these options is something that the majority of cat breeders will have to do at some point. This is because as a male cat reaches sexual maturity, his hormones take over and the kitten that was once able to snuggle you on the couch is now solely concerned with territory and breeding, which may become unpredictable and dangerous for people, other cats, and especially kittens. This is especially true when dealing with huge cats who stand over three feet tall and weigh more than twenty five pounds. Not to add that intact males will frequently spray to establish their territory, destroying furniture, carpeting, and other items in the house.

Every male cat will be unique. Some may never become aggressive or overwhelmed, and others may not spray when breeders let them roam their house, but this is unusual, and there are other factors to consider. Male cats, even when not spraying can have a stench to them that will smell up your house. Male cats can also become overwhelmed with being around females in heat and not being able to breed, making them aggrivated and vocalizing constantly, which is what happened to me and it became unbareable.

Breeders typically allow gaps in between litters, which means males can't roam freely with females. Along with free roaming comes the unknown of who the father is if you have multiple males, as well as the uncertainty of the due dates of the females. There is no use in being a breeder if you allow your cats to roam freely and reproduce whenever they like, the ethical goal of breeding is to produce a better cat by selecting which cats are paired together.

Inbreeding would be a concern if breeders kept females from prior litters. Yes, purebreds were inbred at the start of their development, but it is no longer acceptable and is not practiced by the majority of breeders.

My personal experience

Speaking of personal experience, my first intact male cat taught me a lot. He was a very affectionate cat when I first received him, prior to reaching sexual maturity and adding a female to the home, he was not confined to one area and could freely roam my entire house. I struggled to find a place to keep him after that, I considered that it was ethical to keep him in the largest area possible while still allowing him to see the females (without coming into contact with them), this left him overwhelmed, pacing, constantly vocalizing, and becoming overstimulated by physical affection. I even tried letting him wander free in my house while closely monitoring him, which resulted in him spraying on my brand new $2,500 couch. He will absolutely not tolerate stud pants either. He obviously did not want to spend time with me or the other cats, and he was no longer interested in relaxing on the couch. He is only interested in the female's litter boxes and covering up their scents by spraying. This came to a halt when I moved him outside to where he could no longer become overwhelmed by the females.

My parents own the property where I live, it is 5 acres and has two houses on it, my parents have the "normal" house with bedrooms and a garage, whereas I have a 2,600sqft house that was renovated by the previous owners to accommodate one person, so I have one bedroom and one bathroom, while the rest of my house is an open concept, including my 700sqft loft that is my stepdaughter's bedroom. I don't have any options for keeping my males inside unless I remodeled my house, but I do have a concrete and covered huge patio. This is true for the majority of breeders, particularly those who are new or have a small number of kittens. My intact males are housed in a 10 foot by 10 foot dog kennel run that is covered and on concrete, they are protected from the elements and have houses to go into, they also have heat lamps and fans for when it is hot or cold and most importantly, they have the freedom that they would not have if kept inside my home.

An ethical breeders dream

It would be every ethical breeders dream to have an intact male cat that doesn't stink, doesn't spray (very minimal or will tolerate stud pants), doesn't obnoxiously vocalize, doesn't get overwhelmed by being around females, doesn't obsess over the females litter boxes or places that they lay, doesn't bully females, doesn't breed when you dont want them to, doesn't breed females who are related to them and one that will just relax with you on the couch as if he is a neutered pet but lets be realistic that isnt happening. Therefore, you have to have some kind of enclosure or room to house males at some point and allowing them to just roam free while you aren't home or are sleeping is unrealistic for most breeders. Like I said before this is highly contingent on the options each breeder has access to.

Another dream for most ethical breeders is to have the room and funds to renovate a portion of their home's interior (or exterior) and convert it into a top tier stud area. Again, this is not realistic because not every breeder would have a complete vacant basement or numerous rooms to renovate, much alone the money to do so. I also thought breeders weren't supposed to earn money, but for some reason need to be able to have these top-tier spaces that cost a lot of money. We are not government-funded rescue organizations. So, what are these individuals supposed to do? Add an addition to their home? Sell their house to buy a larger one? Kick their kids out so the cats can have a room? NO! I can practically guarantee that ethical breeders are reinvesting in their catteries and creating better environments for their cats when they expand their cattery and have the funds to do so, it is all of our wishes.

The judgment

What is strange to me is that other breeders and non-breeders feel they have some authority or decision-making power over how another breeder keeps their cats and want to question how they do things without knowing the specific cat, they want breeders to change the way they do things, potentially stressing out a male to please the human emotions of strangers. It's simple: they aren't your cats or your cattery, and you don't know what each one requires. Every breeder and every cat will bring a different experience and each breeder will decide what is the best way to house their cats. It is important to remember that intact male cats being used for breeding are not the same as your pet cat and breeders are not secluding their cats to be cruel, these cats cost alot of money and our breeding programs are contingent on our males being happy and healthy.

These males spend a very small amount of time with a breeder and will go on to be retired, neutered and live the rest of their 10+ years in a pet home. I believe that providing breeders with recommendations and options for expanding or improving their stud areas is a far better approach than posting social media posts about how you "could never imagine" and purposely vilifying other breeders for your own gain and glory. I despise this community's tendency to pass judgment rather than aid.

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