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What is a Teaser Tom?

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A very astute observation by a famous statesman, but a very vexing problem to the owner of a precious but precocious and immature female cat.

Breeders have always been faced with the dilemma of controlling oestrus (heat) or stimulating sterile ovulation in the pedigreed cat. The Teaser Tom is the answer to a breeder's prayer.

The Teaser Tom is an entire male cat who has been sterilised surgically by vasectomy by a veterinarian, and can start working approximately five to six weeks after vasectomy.

Hormones to control oestrus in the feline species have been a tremendous help to harassed breeders. Ovarid (megestrol acetate) and injectable hormones have been widely and successfully used, however, the prolonged use of Ovarid can and does cause pyometra and pyometra can be fatal. Also, keeping a cat confined, and if allowed to call incessantly can ultimately lead to further complications such as polycystic ovaries which will ultimately be followed by spaying anyway.

However, it is advisable and recommended for queens to have at least one full free call before being mated and bred after their use.

Delvosterone, a hormone injection, appeared in local veterinarians offices a couple of years ago, and was hailed as the breeder's ultimate safe (?) control of the brood queen's cycle. However, breeders soon learnt to their dismay that the product controlled the breeding queens too well. Some never called again and others have failed entirely to produce litters after its use.

Crude methods of stimulating ovulation ranged from the use of thermometers to ear buds. The Teaser Tom is the Natural way.

Why use a Teaser Tom?

Oestrus and conception in cats is very different to our other common household companion: the dog. When a bitch comes into heat or season and we are conscious that she has reached "maturity" as the outward signs are immediately apparent. The vulva swells and a bloody discharge is present signalling her period of oestrus.  Cats are reflexive ovulators and need to be bred to stimulate ovulation.

The cat, however, is rather sneaky. Most pet owners are not even aware that their cat has even had a season! and only discover that their cat has reached sexual maturity when they notice that her girth has begun to swell with pregnancy. The Cat Fancy discourages breeders from breeding their queens too young - 10 months being the minimum age.

For the more attentive owner, some changes will be obvious, particularly, the cats behaviour. A calling queen becomes more noticeably affectionate, rubbing her self against legs, any legs - even tables and chairs.  She rolls, and by taking hold of the scruff of the neck, using the other hand to massage the base of her hind quarters, she will assume the mating position. The cat will react by crouching, pressing her whole body to the ground; her tail will swing over to a right angle and she will perform a characteristic shuffle with her back legs and will raise her hindquarters to the mating position. She will also become extremely vocal, more so than usual, hence the term "calling".

If you intend breeding your queen and she is both old enough and mature enough, this would be the time to contact the stud owner (having made prior enquiries). If not, for various reasons you have decided to delay her being bred, it is advisable to use the services of a Teaser Tom.

To complicate matters further, locking her away at home or stashing her in a reputable boarding cattery is not the solution, as she will only go off call and will start once more, a week or ten days later.

Cats, unlike dogs, only ovulate after being mated. She has this breeding peculiarity in common with the rabbit. The dog ovulates approximately 10 days after her heat starts and will 'stand' for the dog at that time. Cats, however, once they have been mated will mate continuously for a period of four or five days. Being a rather promiscuous animal, if not confined during this time, will accept as many suitors as there are present - hence the range of multicoloured kittens in some litters. (Mendelian principles of genetics aside)

Requirements for a Teaser/sterile Tom
Some Teasers have been rescued from a local SPCA., or selected from a mis-mating or adopted from a neighbourhood moggie litter as a kitten. Any healthy entire male is suitable provided he is young, has a gentle disposition and has stamina. He must be in peak physical condition. The same admirable traits of character must be present as those of a successful stud.

Teasing a retired stud is one avenue of handling the problem of what to do with an entire male that is possibly 'old fashioned' as far as the standard of points is concerned, or sprays and rehabilitation is dubious. One major advantage here, is that the cat is accustomed to working.

In some quarters, the Teaser Tom may be considered a luxury as he has to be maintained in the identical manner as that of a fully fledged stud. He requires the same creature comforts, identical spacious quarters with a secure, escape proof run. In addition, arrangements for heating in winter, quality diet, and veterinary care are essential - including regular inoculations and check-ups. In fact, in some instances, if he is the only sterile male for miles around, he may be busier than a top stud.

Requirements for accepting 'outside' queens are the same as to that of any stud. Up-to-date inoculations, ( some, including Feline Leukaemia Virus vaccinations ) are required or recent full negative testing of all feline residents for Feline Leukaemia from the same household. The queen must also be free of internal and external parasites, and be in good health. Release forms for necessary veterinary care (if needed) must be signed at the time of accepting queens for teasing.

The queen's cycle, having been duped into ovulation by a sterile mating, usually varies from 28 to 60 days (each cat is individual in it's needs) before she calls again. The queen generally spends about 5 days with a sterile male.

The advent of sterilised or Teaser Toms has revolutionised pedigree cat breeding practises. Planning of future litters is simple. The oestrus cycle has remained unaffected through chemical intervention. Accurate calendar marking will assist the breeder in planning matings and future litters.

The best contraception for all pets is, and remains undoubtedly, surgical sterilisation performed by a veterinarian.

Something to remember:
From the time your queen is mated to the stud of your choice, her gestation period is 65 - 67 days. Add to this, a further ten weeks when the queen, with your assistance, will be raising her kittens. Kittens should be vaccinated between 8 and 9 weeks of age. It is at about this time that the acquired immunity the kitten gets from it's dam begins to diminish. By the time they are 10 weeks, the inoculation has boosted the kitten's immune system making it safe for them to be placed in their new homes.

Teaser Toms are common in South Africa and several breeders have Teaser Toms, but not all breeders allow casual use of their boys. Most owners are rather selective and some even keep an appointment book, knowing when their regulars are due to call.

Breeders wanting to use these cats must, therefore, not be surprised when they are not always available for general use.  Check show catalogues for breeders' advertisements to find a Teaser.

Our resident Teaser Tom is "Skeeta", an Aby-Tabby - the result of a "mes-alliance" - 
(his mother - a Supreme Champion Abby,  had an "affaire" with a traveling man!!) 
has immigrated to the USA to continue servicing the Gitalaya Gals ...!!
Gentleman definitely "purfurr" blondes ..

Author's Note: This article was written and published originally in
"The Gazette"
[1986] - the newsletter of the South African Cat Register.
Nothing has changed in all these years ..

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Copyright Gail Pomerantz(formerly Francois)
Gitalaya Cattery 1995 - 2005
Revised 2000 ; 2002 | Renovated May 1st, 2002 | Update July 2004
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Gitalaya Cattery 1995 - 2005, owner/breeder, Gail Pomerantz of Huntsville Texas, USA. All content or text unless otherwise credited may not be used, copied, distributed, or taken without written permission. All photographs, illustrative graphics etc. are licensed to Gitalaya Cattery and remain the copyrighted property of Gitalaya Cattery. All photographs images and graphics may not be used without written permission from Gitalaya Cattery.

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