These two groups of people are not antagonistic. Personally, I do both. I have done rescue since 2009, while breeding is a new venture for me. Rescue is about trying to save a stray, foster, or to find a new home for a dog or cat that someone cannot keep anymore. Breeding is about trying to preserve and better the breeds that Man has developed for our companionship. Responsible breeding does not lead to more cats or dogs on the streets. Might it take away a home for one of the cats in need of a new owner? Perhaps, but the demand for purebred cats and dogs will never wane. First and foremost, these are companion animals bred by Man. Each breed has their own personality and quirks, and the day breeders stop breeding, is a sad day for all cat and dog lovers. It should not be a sin to love a specific breed.

On a sidenote, does that mean that those who choose to birth their own child are contributing to the global overpopulation programme? After all, a child is still in foster care because this couple wanted their own. No one judges you for that, huh?

To rescue is to have a good heart, because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly an easy job. There are hardships, heartbreaks and lots of effort and money involved, but also lots of joy and rewards in saving lives. A good breeder does both. It’s a love of the species and love of the breed that leads us to breeding, and rescue is part of the duties that a good breeder should do. If you don’t do a part to save animals in your community, in my opinion, you don’t have the right to bring more animals into this world. Both breeding and rescuing are not for the faint of heart.

I would never dream of breeding cats without DNA testing for FIV/FeLV. Breeders work hard to play by the rules. Dogs are tested for Degenerative Myelopathy and have PennHip certification. Only the best animals get bred from. Never buy a cat or dog from a breeder that does not show.

Breed clubs and breeders try to minimise genetic disorders and to refine their stock. With purebred dogs and cats, there is a known gene pool that they can evaluate and work toward eliminating disorders in because they know the DNA markers that indicate disease and have an organised enough breeding program to do something about avoiding these disorders in their next generation of puppies and kittens.

A well-bred, pedigreed animal will display optimal characteristics distinct to their breed. If you want a cat that’s lazy and plays with water around your house, don’t get a Bengal cat. An unpedigreed animal will be more unpredictable. If you prefer to have whatever comes your way, then getting a rescue is like playing the lottery, and you might just get a pleasant surprise.

I encourage my clients to purchase a dog of their choice. And if their choice is to find a dog for their family that will grow up to have a predictable size, appearance, and temperament, I then encourage them to purchase their new dog from a local reputable breeder who carefully screens for genetic disorders, selects and mates two dogs together who have a very good chance of producing healthy pups with good temperaments, who will be there for the family to answer questions about how to care for their new pet and to assist them if they do have a health concern. This is a much safer proposition for a family who plans to live with their purchase for the next fifteen or so years. I think we should have the opportunity to purchase the dog that we want, not what is thrust upon us by careless breeding practices. When I buy a car, I like to know how many miles it has, how big it will be, what color it is, and what the warranty is. I expect no less from a purchase of a dog. And believe me, I expect to love my new dog much more than I will ever love a car.

Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, JD, NAIA President

Of course, purebred animals are more expensive than rescue, for the prices reflect the amount of effort and money poured into researching to better the breed. Showing cats requires money, buying foundation cats requires money, and so do health tests and registration fees. Purebred cats represent the hard work and effort of a breeder, and the new owner will most probably be expected to pamper and provide the best care possible for them. Cat fancying is not a cheap hobby at all, but to have and to hold a beautiful kitty with the best temperament everyday for at least 15 years, as many fans will agree, is priceless.

Rescue animals, on the other hand, are given a second chance at a good life. It will be more difficult to retrain or socialise your new cat or dog to be familiar with your home and lifestyle, especially if they are feral or part of an abusive case. However, in many cases, a young kitten or puppy might be available, and they are no different from any other pet. Many reputable organisations offer these animals for a nominal fee or even for free. Similarly, you should pick a good rescue to adopt through, for support and advice. If you cannot afford a pedigree cat, rescue cats have just as much, or even more love to give.

It is unfair to paint all breeders – hobby breeders, backyard breeders, or commercial breeders – with a broad brush and assume that they are all cut from the same cloth. Good breeders spend endless amounts of time deciding who to breed, what to test for, what care is best for their animals, and which family is best suited for this new puppy they have put their heart and soul into. 

For a new pet owner, having breeder guidance is fantastic. Being a new pet owner means a steep learning curve, and a breeder is a wealth of information about cats and the breed in general. You never do own a cat, you are always owned by them.