Why buy a pedigree kitten?
A cat will be an integral part of your family for up to 20 years. This fact alone should make you think twice before impulsively buying the cheapest or cutest kitten in the pet store window.
There are many places you can get a kitten from – a shelter, a pet store, companies that breed all types of cats etc. Breeding pedigree cats is not just about putting two cats together to sell their babies. Before that mating even takes place, a great deal of research into genetics and bloodlines needs to be done! Anybody can be a breeder – put a male and female cat together, and they’ll make dozens of little kittens. Few can be ethical, responsible breeders that put together great specimens of the breed to produce excellent babies to better the breed.
Puppy and kitten farms sell cheap animals at commercial wholesale prices, as they mass produce baby dogs and cats in overcrowded conditions. To keep costs low, breeding queens are mated over and over again and fed the cheapest quality foods. Nobody really knows that the kitten you bought from a dubious website was actually inbred sister to brother, or if she really is a pure Persian kitten. Having only veterinary health cards and pedigrees that are not from an international organisation guarantee you that you have been duped. Never buy animals from pet stores, companies or any other middlemen. No ethical breeder will sell their kittens to a pet store. You might end up with a healthy cat with no problems, but you are also encouraging the cruelty of mass, unethical breeding. Vote with your dollars.
Breeding cats must be such a profitable hobby, right?
If we were doing this for the money, we would be quite stupid for there is hardly any money to be made. I know of not a single reputable breeder who earns any wages whatsoever. There is usually a deficit instead of a profit as the cost, upkeep and breeding can amount to quite a hefty sum. Recently I had one quote from an overseas breeder asking 4000€ for a show male.
Many people don’t realise the risks involved for cats giving birth, the complications can be expensive as well as heart breaking. When disaster strikes you have to be prepared to do whatever you need for your queen and her kittens. A Caesarian-section plus an after-hours emergency vet can run up to thousands of euros.
Add the cost of man-hours, raw food, supplements, litter, cleaning fees, blood tests, genetic tests, stud fees, vet fees, registrations, vaccinations, sterilisations, advertisements etc… and you’ll get the cost of breeding.
How much is a good breeder worth?
There are three main types of breeders. The registered breeder, the hobby or backyard breeder, and the kitten farmers.
Just because a breeder belongs to a major cat association can mean very little. Nearly anyone can do this, if they have registered/pedigree cats. We believe there are additional factors you should consider when adopting a pedigree cat, or researching a breeder.
A good breeder knows very well the standard of the breed of choice, and is well-versed with regard behaviour, nutrition, needs, health issues, genetics etc. She is registered with an international Feline organisation (eg. CFA, FiFe, TICA), is dedicated and involved in cat shows, and selects only the best individuals to mate for the betterment of the breed. She health tests, sells neutered pets and only with pedigree, with a contract that guarantees the kittens’ health for a period of time, has a no declawing policy and an indoor-only agreement. Additionally, it should clearly state that at any time if you can no longer have the cat/kitten, they will take it back, or be involved in helping to rehome. The mother and father of kittens should be tested for standard conditions that can exist within the breed. Testing is essential and this is one corner breeders should not cut. Also be careful that the all of the breeding cats are being tested and not just a select few. Most breeding cats are tested once per year or every other year. A good breeder is interested in and is selective of their kitten buyers, and provides support regarding all aspects of the kitten. The new owners are informed about the breed, as well as the problems in a certain breed or lines.
A backyard breeder breeds her own cat(s) for fun and profit. Breeding cats are not tested or evaluated. They might be registered, but the hobby breeder does not have a registered cattery. They do not care too much about who purchases their kittens and do not provide any sort of guarantee. Supplies surplus kittens to pet stores.
A kitten farm mass produces kittens and puppies in many breeds to maximise profit. Cats usually live in overcrowded conditions, with queens having more than 2 litters a year. Inbreeding, rampant spread of diseases are common. Supplies to pet stores and sells over the internet. Does not care who purchases their kittens. Often falsifies pedigrees and advertises as purebred when they cannot certify this.
A good breeder usually breeds at home, not on a farm. The time involved in researching pedigrees, cleaning litter trays and cat sick, taking time off work to go to stud or to be at home when kittens are born, hand feeding kittens are just a few of the things breeders do that eat up their time. They do this though because they love their cats and chosen breed, they don’t expect wages or profit. Don’t forget breeders also have to factor in the costs of smaller litters, fatalities, ill or deformed kittens that end up staying with the breeder permanently and also the costs involved in keeping kittens that don’t find homes by thirteen weeks old and need to stay at home a little while longer.
A good breeder is actively involved in socialisation of kittens, committed to the best nutrition and care for their cats, and will dispense advice and help freely for the lifetime of the kitten. Ethical breeders are ALL registered breeders, but registered breeders need not necessary be ethical. Choose wisely.