Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Animal Science

First Advisor

Robert A. Godke


Developmental and immunological factors affecting the efficacy of assisted reproduction for domestic and endangered nondomestic felid species were investigated. In the first study, domestic cats exhibited decreased (P $<$ 0.05) numbers of follicles and maturity of oocytes following repeated treatments, at short intervals (44-50 days), with a combination regimen of equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Queens had elevated titers of eCG/hCG-binding immunoglobulins compared with male cats and naive queens, and these immunoglobulins attenuated eCG and hCG bioactivity in mouse ovarian stimulation assays. However, refractory queens appeared to cycle naturally and were responsive to an alternative exogenous gonadotropin, porcine follicle stimulating hormone (pFSH). In the second study, queens exhibited individual variability in immune responses to eCG and hCG, and this variability affected (P $$ 0.05) when longer intervals (130-135 days) were used between successive eCG/hCG treatments. In the third study, the effects of eCG and hCG on the suitability of the maternal environment were investigated. Following intramuscular injection, eCG had an elimination half-life of 24 to 48 hours and, 5 and 15 days after follicular aspiration, eCG/hCG-treated queens had formed multiple ancillary follicles and secondary corpora lutea (CL), respectively. Treatment with antisera against eCG/hCG slowed (P $$ 0.05) serum progesterone levels or decrease (P $>$ 0.05) the number of secondary ovarian structures. In the fourth study, developmental requirements of IVF-derived cat embryos were examined, with the emphasis on energy sources, media complexity and tissue co-culture and temporal variations in these factors. Embryos developed equally well (P $>$ 0.05) to morulae in simple media containing either glucose or glutamine, but blastocyst formation and embryo cell number were decreased (P $<$ 0.05) when glucose was present during the early culture period. Co-culture of embryos on oviductal cell monolayers decreased (P $<$ 0.05) fertilization and blastocyst formation. In the final study, a transcervical technique for embryo transfer was developed and used successfully to produce viable offspring in the domestic cat.