Finding and Choosing a Purebred Cat Breeder

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The cat association websites also have listings of their upcoming shows. Attending a cat show is a great way to meet reputable breeders and see their cats. Breeders who show strive to produce cats that meet the breed standard – the physical ideal for that particular breed. At shows breeders and their cats are subject to scrutiny by experienced judges and exhibitors who can quickly spot a bad apple in their bunch. Therefore, cat shows are usually good places to meet reputable breeders. Kitten producers care nothing about the breed standard or showing their cats, since they are breeding for profit rather than to improve the breed.

Depending upon the breed you've chosen, you may or may not be able to find a breeder with available kittens. The less common breeds and the breeds in high demand generally are sold through waiting lists. If you find a breeder you like but he or she has no kittens available, you may want to ask to be put on the breeder's waiting list (you'll have to put down a deposit), or the breeder may recommend other breeders who have available kittens. Responsible breeders associate with one another and help each other meet the demand for kittens. If you're flexible on color, pattern and gender you'll have an easier time obtaining a kitten. Or you can ask the breeder to inform you when kittens become available. Be patient. It's better to wait and get a quality kitten from a reputable breeder than buy on impulse.

If possible, find a breeder in your area, so you can visit the cattery and see the kitten before you buy. However, this is not always possible, particularly with the less common breeds, and you may have to go outside your area to find a good breeder. In that case, you'll need a breeder who is willing to ship the kitten to you. If the breeder lives out of your area, at least see a photo of your kitten (the entire litter if you can) and photos of the parents before buying. Many breeders have websites where photos of their cats can be seen; be sure to ask.

Questions You Should Ask

Once you narrow down your search to several breeders (it's best to find several possibilities in case one doesn't work out), talk to each one. A caring breeder will be willing to answer all your questions. If the breeder's answers are not satisfactory, or if you get the impression that the breeder is not being forthright, move onto the next one on your list. Ask the following questions:

  • How are the kittens raised? You want a kitten who has been raised "underfoot" in a loving home environment, rather than in an isolated cattery with little human contact.
  • Can I see both parents, or only the mother? By seeing both parents, you'll have a better idea of the adult appearance and temperament of the offspring. If the father is not available – which is often the case, since not every breeder keeps a male for stud service – ask to see a photo of the father, and be sure to see the mother.
  • How many litters do you raise each year? A breeder who raises many litters is less likely to be able to socialize each kitten. Early loving contact with humans is vital if the kitten is to grow up to be a well-socialized, friendly, trusting adult cat.
  • Can you provide names and phone numbers of people who have purchased your cats? If the breeder provides these references, follow through and check them out. Ask these owners about their experiences with the breeder. Of course, keep in mind that a breeder is likely to provide only the numbers of people who have had positive experiences.
  • Has a veterinarian examined the kittens? What vaccinations will be given before the kittens are sent home? Have the cattery cats been tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV)? Depending upon the breed, other health questions should be asked as well, and that's why it's a good idea to become familiar with the breed. Maine coons, for example, are prone to hip dysplasia and a heart disease called cardiomyopathy. When buying a Maine coon, you'll want to ask if the breeder's cats have been screened for these conditions.
  • Do you provide a written health guarantee for genetic and health problems? You want to choose a breeder who stands behind the quality and health of his or her cats.

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