Ovarian control for assisted reproduction in the domestic cat and wild felids

Katharine M. Pelican, David E. Wildt, Budhan Pukazhenthi, JoGayle Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Of the 37 felid species, all but the domestic cat are classified as threatened with extinction in all or part of their native range. Additionally, the domestic cat is a valuable model for human biomedical research. Propagating some wild felids as well as domestic cat populations serving as human models is a major challenge primarily due to difficulties in transporting animals between facilities to ensure the pairing of genetically matched individuals, behavioral incompatibility between pairs and low fertility. Artificial insemination (AI) and in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer (IVF/ET) are powerful tools for helping manage rare populations. Developing successful assisted reproductive techniques requires knowledge of the female reproductive cycle and precise control of ovarian activity. Successful ovarian stimulation for AI and IVF/ET has been achieved in at least one-third of all cat species. However, sensitivity to a given gonadotropin treatment appears highly species-specific, and poor responses are common, particularly in felid species that exhibit spontaneous ovulations. Furthermore, current gonadotropin regimens have been demonstrated to perturb female reproductive function often leading to reduced fertility. Overall, ovarian response to exogenous hormonal stimulation has been highly variable, and pregnancy success after AI or IVF/ET remains low (<20%) in most species. Therefore, there is an immediate need to develop improved regimens that would allow more predictable ovarian responses in felids. We contend that recent research involving the use of progestins to control the ovary prior to gonadotropin stimulation shows promise for providing consistent ovarian stimulation in felids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (Grant no. 1 KO 01 RR17310-01), the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Studies Program, the Morris Animal Foundation, the Smithsonian Women's Committee and by a Graduate Fellowship awarded to K.M.P. by the University of Maryland. We thank Dr. Janine Brown for providing data for Fig. 2 .


  • Exogenous gonadotropins
  • Felids
  • Follicular inhibition
  • IVF/AI
  • Ovarian stimulation


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