• faecal steroids;
  • felids;
  • non-invasive;
  • oestrous cycle;
  • ovary;
  • pregnancy;
  • reproduction

This paper reviews the current status of faecal hormone metabolite monitoring for assessing the reproductive status of felid species. Monitoring the excreted hormonal metabolites in faeces, which can be collected during routine cleaning of enclosures, permits long-term assessment of reproductive activity. The non-invasive nature of faecal hormone monitoring, the ease of collecting biomaterial and the discovery that excretion patterns clearly reflect physiological (gonadal/adrenal) function give this technique enormous potential. After determining the routes of steroid excretion (radio-label studies), faecal extraction and radioimmunoassay procedures were developed for assessing oestrous cyclicity, seasonality and pregnancy. The primary goal is to obtain clearly defined normative data for all Felidae species, ranging from the onset of puberty through the normal course of prime breeding activity to reproductive senescence. Identifying the type of ovulation (induced versus spontaneous) and the impact of season on reproductive function for each species are high priorities because these two characteristics influence both natural and assisted breeding efforts. The immediate goal is to develop a comprehensive database on the reproductive cycle, seasonality, type of ovulation, duration of the follicular/luteal phase, the feasibility of diagnosing pregnancy/parturition and the influence of stress on reproductive fitness of all extant felid species.