As with all important decisions, buying a purebred cat requires thought and planning. You are about to embark upon a relationship that may span fifteen to twenty years – longer than many marriages. So make sure you spend some time finding the right breeder.
You can save yourself veterinary expense and grief by finding a responsible, caring breeder whose goal is to produce healthy, genetically sound, well socialized kittens; a breeder who truly cares about your chosen breed and wants good homes for his or her special kids. Resist the urge to buy on impulse, and know your source before plucking down your hard-earned cash. A bit of patience can make the difference between years of happiness with your feline friend and years of heartache.
Why buy from a breeder rather than a pet store, private party, or newspaper ad? While buying from a breeder does not insure you a healthy, well socialized cat, buying from pet stores or newspaper ads is often risky business, and may cause you considerable grief and expense in the long run.
Reputable breeders do not sell their kittens to pet shops, so pet shops often obtain their kittens from less than pristine sources, such as the so-called backyard breeders or kitten mills. Such kitten producers breed only for profit and care little about the health, happiness, and long lives of their animals. Their cats often live in deplorable overcrowded conditions, have infrequent handling and no socialization, and little veterinary care. No effort is made to ensure genetic health by carefully planning the breeding and choosing the most genetically compatible mates.
Don't assume that any breeder who maintains a cattery in his or her residence is a backyard breeder, however. Most reputable breeders operate their catteries out of their homes, so they can give their cats the attention and care they need. The emotionally loaded term "backyard breeder" can be misleading; it actually refers to the quality of care and concern and the slipshod, assembly-line method of breeding, not the location where the breeding is done.
Newspaper ads can be placed by reputable breeders, but are more often placed by kitten mills and people who have bred their pet-quality purebreds, violating their purchase agreements since pet-quality purebreds are almost never sold with breeding rights. In fact, most breeders withhold the papers of their pet-quality purebreds until the owners have provided proof of alteration to prevent these matings.
While these kittens may be less expensive than a breeder-bred kitten, you generally get what you pay for. Such people generally know little or nothing about breeding cats. Too, these cats usually cannot be registered or shown since the owners cannot provide pedigrees or registration papers, and without papers you can't tell if the cat you're buying is a true purebred at all. If you buy from a newspaper ad, be even more scrupulous about investigating the seller.
First Things First
Before you begin shopping for your dream cat, you'll need to do your homework. First, you'll want to decide which breed is best for you. See Finding the Right Purebred Cat.
Once you've chosen the breed, it's very important to learn as much as you can about it before you begin looking for a breeder. That means becoming familiar with the breed's standard, characteristics, personality, strengths and weaknesses, potential genetic and health problems, and grooming requirements and other special needs. You need this information if you are to be an informed consumer.
Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful resource for breed information. Begin by reading the PetPlace Breed Profiles. The Cat Fanciers Web Site at www.fanciers.com is also an excellent online resource. Also, visit the cat associations online, since many offer standards and other information on each breed they recognize:
Finding a Breeder
After you've chosen and learned all you can about your breed, check out the breeder listings in cat magazines such as Cats and Kittens (www.catsandkittens.com) or Cat Fancy (www.animalnetwork.com/cats). Their websites also have breeder listings.
In addition, extensive lists of breeders can be found at the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, www.breedlist.com, as well as a wealth of information and links to breeder sites. Breed-specific clubs or societies also exist and can provide lists of breeder members. These groups usually have a written code of ethics their members agree to uphold. Many of the cat associations also can provide breeder lists.