Finding and Choosing a Purebred Cat Breeder

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  • In what cat association(s) are your cats registered? This is important if you decide to show the cat, because each cat association has different show standards and rules regarding each breed. Also, this tells you if you're dealing with a breeder who is working to improve the breed rather than just producing sellable kittens. Call the cat association(s) to which the breeder belongs to check his or her credentials before committing.
  • Do you provide a pedigree and registration papers for your kittens? Even if you want pet quality and do not intend to show your cat, be sure you are buying a kitten that comes with these documents, also called "papers." While papers don't guarantee you a healthy, well-socialized cat, it increases the chances that the breeder is reputable and the cat is what the breeder claims. A cat without papers lacks them for a reason, usually because one or both parents were without papers or because the parents were not sold with breeding rights. A kitten without papers may not be a purebred at all. While part-purebred cats can still make fine companions, you shouldn't have to pay purebred prices for a non-pedigreed cat.
  • Will you ship your cats? Not all breeders will, although many do. This is important if you're dealing with a breeder who's out of your area.
  • How much do you charge? Breeders are generally more responsive if you save this question for last. While price is certainly an important factor, breeders tend to be more impressed with prospective owners who don't begin the conversation by giving the impression that getting a bargain basement cat is their most important consideration.

    Questions Your Breeder May Ask

    A responsible breeder will also ask you questions before agreeing to sell you a kitten. Some of these questions may seem very personal, but don't take offense. Caring breeders are attached to their cats, and want to make sure their special kids go to loving, responsible homes. In fact, a breeder who seems eager to sell to just anybody may be a bad bet. If the breeder isn't concerned about finding good homes for the kittens, how much care do you think he or she put into breeding the kittens in the first place?

    Expect the breeder to ask questions about your lifestyle. For example, he or she may ask whether you will be away from home a great deal, whether you have young children, your housing situation, whether you own or rent, and if you're willing to keep the cat indoors (many breeders require this as a condition of sale). The breeder may ask what you will feed the kitten, and your views on declawing and spaying and neutering. The breeder may want to know what you would do if you couldn't keep the cat any longer. He or she may ask how much you know about the breed, and whether you're aware of the grooming and care commitment the breed requires. The breeder may ask if you've owned cats before, and what happened to them.

    Visiting the Cattery

    If your conversation with the breeder goes well and you feel you've found the right one for you, schedule a visit to the cattery if possible, because then you can see how the kittens are raised. When you visit, let your eyes and nose be your guides. Does the place smell clean, or does it reek of urine and feces? A cattery should be clean and tidy, but it also should look comfortably lived in. If it's antiseptic and spotless the cats are likely kept in cages and allowed little human contact. Handling is just as important to a kitten's upbringing as quality food and medical care.

    Do the breeding cats have a spacious environment in which to live rather than tiny cages? While it's often necessary to keep some cats penned to ensure controlled breeding, particularly the stud males, the pens should be clean and spacious (with at least 27 cubic feet per cat), and the cats should not be kept constantly in these environments. Are the cats comfortable around people, or do they seem unused to human contact? Are toys, scratching posts, and other cat items in evidence, or do you get the impression the breeder views cats as just a moneymaking venture? If the breeder is not willing to let you visit the cattery, be wary. Ask yourself what it is that the breeder doesn't want you to see.

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