Broadening of the Maine Coon gene pool:
In our breeding we wish to help broadening the gene pool of the Maine Coon cats to avoid future problems caused by inbreeding. First we have to go back to when Maine Coon breeding started and explain some terms:
There are 5 cats from the late 60s that seems to appear more than others in a regular Maine Coon pedigree. These are:
1. Andy Cat of Heidi Ho(about 20 % of the gene pool)
2. Bridget Cat of Heidi Ho(about 20 % of the gene pool)
3.Dauphin De France of Tati-tan(about 15 % of the gene pool)
4. Tatiana of Tati-tan(about 8 % of the gene pool)
5. Whittermore Smokie Joe(about 7 % of the gene pool)
In a regular Maine Coon pedigree you see that about 70 % of the genes come from these 5 cats. This is what we mean when we talk about the percentage of top 5. Top 3 is usually between 50-55 % and top 2 about 25-40 %.
To find out about a cats top 5 or clones, you can visit the PawPeds database.
In the late 70s and early 80s, two kittens were born by the names of Heidi Ho Sonkey Bill and Tanstaafl Polly Adeline of Heidi Ho. When mated to each other they produced kittens with great show quality and size. The kittens also looked very much alike, and that`s why they got the name "clones". Many catteries wanted a kitten or two for their breeding, and the cats were used over and over again. The result today is that a regular pedigree contains about 30-35 % of the genes from these brothers and sisters.
In the north-east of the USA,The American Cat Assosiation allows breeders to include new cats to be registrered as a Maine Coon if it meets certain criterias. The goal is to bring new bloodlines to the breed to avoid hereditary deseases in the future. This is hard work for a breeder, but fortunately there are some breeders that helps broadening the gene pool this way. The cat may be found on a farm or in a homeless shelter for animals. If a cat is approved by the ACA it`s called an F1. This means that clones and top 5 are set to 0 %. Offspring from an F1 is F2 and so on. A foundation cat will need to be approved for breeding. In Norway F1-F4 have to be approved for breeding, while an F5 gets an ordinary pedigree.
To outcross is to bring newer genes to the gene population. You can do this by using foundation cats in your breeding programme, or search for a cat from some of the old bloodlines that survived without mixing with the top 5 and the clones.
For a cat to be called an outcross there are some requirements that must be fulfilled. To define an outcross we`ve chosen to list the PawPeds definition.
A cat is an outcross if it has
50% or less of the top five cats (average 65-70%) or
35% or less of the top three cats (average 50-55%) or
25% or less of the top two cats (average 35-40%) or
20% or less of the clones (average 30-35%)
In our breeding programme we find it important to try to lower the numbers of top 5 and clones to avoid future healthproblems caused by a very narrow gene pool. This is why we have chosen to work with outcross. We strive to mate cats that lower the percentage of top 5 and/or clones by each generation.
To learn more about the terms above, please go to the Maine Coon Heritage Site at PawPeds.