When we talk about Maine Coon, we talk about clones and new foundation/novice, but also outcross. What is an outcross?
In order to be called an outcross, a cat must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- 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%)
Note that outcross is not the same as New foundation; a cat might be seen as an outcross without beeing New foundation.
We often also call these cats just foundation. Actually, this is kind of wrong since it’s New foundation we are talking about, the cats who initially laid the foundation for the breed itself are actually the ones called the foundation.
Now, when we bringing new blood into our breed, these will become New foundation. Working with outcross is incredibly important for our breed, but unfortunately today there are two groups of breeders the ones who work with outcross and New foundation only and strive to get as low values as possible and the ones who do not give it a single thought, working with show lines maybe doesn't even know what this means. Originally, however, a New foundation was taken in, to breed out our high-cloned cats and bring down their values. This seems to have been forgotten by some breeders today.
When it comes to my own breeding I do vary a lot, I have always done, I have often had a bit higher (but not sky-high values because of the risks they bring) but something higher together with some lower. I have often lent out the lower studs I have had. To help lower the clones in females owned by those who show that they are really interested in lowering the value of their cats, not just say so to be able to borrow a nice outcross male.
We should all work together here, everyone should work with outcross in some degree, it does not mean everyone has to work with a New foundation and really low values in clones, but we should definitely work together to bring down the values within a few years, so no Maine Coon has such sky-high values as they have today. Where the limit goes for what makes sense is terribly hard to say, but when they fall over 35% in clones, it's definitely too high and the inbreeding depression, might be just around the corner, lurking like a timed bomb. No one can tell if this will go off today or in 10 years, but it will go off sooner or later.
In an ultimate world, no Maine Coon would exceed 20-25% in clones and the normal value would be about 10% but we are far, far, far from that point today.
By: Malin Sundqvist