While we encourage everyone to consider adopting a cat, it isn’t for everyone. It’s better to get the individual cat that’s right for you the first time around, than to adopt the wrong kitty only to return it to the shelter. When a particular cat breed or temperament catches your eye, it’s time to look for a cat breeder. But how do you know good from dud? We’re here to help.
Know what cat breed you want
If you haven’t already, devour our Ultimate Guide to Cat Breeds and follow the links for the greatest cat content the internet has ever seen. Each breed is accompanied by 5 reasons to love them, as if you needed that many. Your dream cat is just a few clicks away.
Do your research
Research your chosen cat breeds - you should understand its looks, its temperament and any common health problems that it might have. The breed profiles in our Learning Centre are a great resource. By the time you’re through, you should be a certified catspert, able to drop kitty trivia into a conversation as casually as if you were making a remark about the weather.
Now it’s time to join forces with our old friend, Google, and find some cat breeders in your area. The breeder's website will tell you a lot, but don’t judge a book by its cover: these people are cat breeders not web designers, and a great looking website could just be deceptive. Look for transparent breeding information, plentiful contact details, testimonials and anything else that indicates this is a reputable, ethical operation. Don’t just rely on the breeder’s website however: independent cat breed or cat care forums can be a great source of honest reviews of the breeder’s cats and facilities. And don’t forget, the real world is still right outside your door! Ask friends, vets, and cat clubs for their recommendations.
Inspect the cat breeder facilities
Research is one thing, but for this next step you’ll have to head out into the field. Visit your cat breeder at the premises where the cats are kept. If they are reluctant and refuse to meet you there, refuse to buy a cat from them - they should not have anything to hide. Once you’re at the breeder’s take careful notes in your detective notepad:
- Is the space big enough for the number of cats?
- Is the space clean?
- Are the cats kept only inside the house or in an outdoor enclosure?
- Are the cats happy, sociable and outgoing?
- Do the cats look healthy?
- Is there discharge from their nose, ears or eyes?
- Are they sneezing
- Does their coat look unhealthy?
- Do they have patches of fur loss?
- Do they have fleas?
- Are they very thin? Make sure to check for a small layer of fat, and not rely on their furry form
- Do the cats have exaggerated features that may lead to health problems?
- Do they have an extremely flat face?
- Do they have extremely curled ears?
If you’ve done your research, your first impression will probably be pretty accurate - but don’t quit now, there’s still a little more work to be done!
Ask the right questions
If everything looks good to your scrupulous eye, it’s time to ask some questions. Cat and car are only a letter apart, and they both purr. You should treat your feline friend with the same care you would when buying an automobile. You may feel a little uncomfortable with questioning the breeder, but it’s very important that you do. A cat is a long-term responsibility and you want to be sure that you’re getting a cat that you can love for many years to come. If your cat breeder seems annoyed or cagey when answering questions, consider this a strike against them: they should appreciate your efforts to be a responsible pet parent. Some questions you might ask:
- When was the mother first bred? Generally, cats reach maturity at 9-12 months
- How many litters has the mother had recently? Generally, 3 litters in 2 years is reasonable.
- Which vet does the cat breeder visit?
- What happens to unsold kittens?
- Are the cats vaccinated and wormed?
- Are the cats desexed? If not, the breeder should be able to give you more information.
- Has the cattery been tested for FIV and FELV? Is there evidence that it’s free of disease?
- Is there any risk of inbreeding?
- Is there a guarantee period during which you can change your mind?
- What are the cats fed?
- How are sick cats dealt with?
- What happens to retired breeding cats?
Hope to answer some questions
If the breeder has impressed you so far, there’s only one more step - a cherry on top, really. A great breeder will genuinely care about their kittens, and will ask you questions to make sure that they are going to a good match. They’ll also provide information about caring for your new kitty both at the time of purchase and beyond. If everything checks out, and you’re finding yourself on the receiving end of an interrogation, desperately trying to impress your breeder: then congratulations, you’ve found a good one.
For more information on caring for you new kitten, click here.