Ok I promised I would write about this today. I have some qualms about getting into specifics or not. I understand that not everyone uses this method but this is what I use. It gives me a really good range and definitely pulls out the show, breeder, and pet quality kittens. So for a real life example Kiyame's recent litter of five, were all over the place in their different features. Some better then others. Just at a glance I knew who the best kittens were, but to remain objective and not pick favorites, I scored them based on the guidelines Roy Robinson outlined in his book "Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders". Just as a note I have the original not the reprint. I changed my scoring slightly to reflect what was important for the breed as outline by the Breed Standard. Going by this scoring method, let me know that I had two breeder/show kittens out of this litter and I know which kitten is better (per the scoring) then the other. The other three kittens are adorable and one is breeder quality but not show quality. The other two kittens will have to go to pet homes. They are adorable and cute, they have the Helki fur in different degrees, but they are pet quality because they do not meet the standard and score low on the grading scale.
Remaining Objective is not an easy task, my favorite kitten in the bunch was second place and my second favorite is third place. The kitten that scored the highest is not really 'my cup of tea'. She is the one I should keep to breed.
Looking at Big Picture is important also. I can not essentially keep three kittens from the same litter. Doing so limits my gene pool, which can lead to trouble. Its important to think of what each individual can bring to the table when their time as a breeder/show cat comes up. Do you want to keep or accentuate the patterns, conformation, etc that such and such kitten has? Which kitten has the better potential at helping your current breeding program?
Continued Scoring and Reviewing results as the kitten grows can also be a helpful thing to do. Don't score once, and let that be the deciding factor. Find the best milestones for your breed and score during those weeks. I score when the kittens are born, when the whole litters eyes are open, when they begin to walk and play, and when they have weaned.
Decision Time comes for me around twelve weeks of age. At this junction I take all four scores and average them out. Taking only kittens that score above 175 on my scale I think about what they can individually bring to the table. Kittens are then placed in homes appropriately.
So ends the summary of my current methods. :-D