Confessions of a Cat Breeder
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Featured article by Jasmine Kinnear
The Cat Fancy World holds particular connotation to the term "What is a Purebred Kitten." This article is being written to provide those seeking a registered kitten with an awareness to protect their investment. For those attempting to locate a purebred kitten, a registered breeder's definition will sharply contrast with that of the less than favourable catteries known as "Backyard Breeders."
The science behind all purebreds is that they have fixed and predictable genes. In addition each breeder, cattery and litter has been duly registered by a prestigious Cat Association. A purebred has inherited fixed, predictable genes from generations of catteries following a closely monitored breeding program. A Registered Breeder invests time, money and is passionate in learning the science behind selective breeding. In the last century alone, breeders have increased their knowledge of genetics to develop over forty different registered breeds. Breeds will vary in both appearance and personality. Even catteries advertising the same breed will produce kittens with their "own look," as this has been determined by the bloodline being used within their breeding programs. One only has to attend a cat show to see that catteries are producing different builds, coat lengths and have kittens available in an array of incredible colours. There are several breeds with unusual ears and several with unusual tails. Some breeds such as the elegant Siamese with their long tapered noses have been the foundation for producing other breeds including my personal favourite, the Himalayan.
The advantage of a purebred kitten is that he is born with the predictability of a fixed set of genes. A buyer has the reassurance when purchasing such a kitten of knowing how he will appear upon maturity. Selective breeding for specific genes has developed features that now belong to that breed and can be assured to show up in the kittens of that breed.
I was a Himalayan and Persian cat breeder for many years. I absolutely treasure the time I spent reproducing the precious kittens born within my cattery. During that period, my knowledge not only increased within my own breed but residing with many felines was the foundation of my education as a Feline Behaviour Consultant.
The safest catteries to purchase from are closed registered catteries. A closed cattery will not provide stud service, will not board cats or kittens previously sold and most importantly of all, do not allow any pet cats in their home to go outside. Whether they are domestic pets or purebred felines, catteries should never permit outside access to any of their cats. Purchasing from a closed cattery may provide the buyer with a greater level of assurance that they are obtaining a kitten from a virus-free environment.
I have great respect for the dedicated Registered Breeder. She has legally purchased her costly breeding felines and is truly concerned with the welfare of her cattery. This is the breeder who has wisely invested time and money in establishing her business. She welcomes questions from her buyers even after the feline has grown, and will provide advice and support for the kittens' owners. The most important consideration in locating a responsible breeder is determining if she manages a clean and healthy cattery and registers her litters with a recognized Cat Association. A good breeder should be concerned with combining the welfare and requirements of her kittens, while meeting the buyer's expectations of locating a personable and healthy baby.
While researching the influx of Backyard Breeders, many appeared proud to declare that they were selling kittens for $500 and maintained a 'cash only' policy. Such a practice provides little security to their buyers. A Backyard Breeder is not registered with a Cat Association and is not producing registered purebred kittens. The kittens may resemble a particular breed but there are no guarantees of how closely the kitten has been bred to standard. Such a breeder will not issue any legitimate health guarantees nor provide registration papers from a recognized Cat Association due to their non-registered status. As the Backyard Breeder has restricted the buyer with a 'cash only' sale, the buyer is not legally protected. Buyers in this situation will never have any reassurance of their kitten's ability to develop into a healthy adult.
The buyer is neither protected by an Ownership Agreement nor will they be provided with any proof of purchase. Basically, this selling style amounts to hand me your money and never darken my doorway again. As a buyer you assume the ultimate financial risk. You will never know if your unregistered kitten is healthy and free from congenital defects, viruses or is even truly a purebred. The Backyard Breeder is notorious for severing all contact after the transaction has been completed. This breeder will not permit any additional contact with you nor shown concern regarding the welfare of your kitten.
In each cattery visited, your sense of smell will provide you with valuable information. Does it smell clean? Does it look clean? Examine the premises closely. Are you in an uncaged cattery? Is this an environment where the kittens have room to play and explore the safe areas of the house?
Are there children in the home and are the kittens handled on a regular basis? Some breeders dislike this practice but in my cattery I found the kittens enjoyed the contact and children brought out the most loving qualities in my babies. A kitten that has been gently handled by older children will be more affectionate than a cage bound kitten with limited human contact. Skittish kittens are usually found in larger catteries and have lived their entire lives cage bound. They may be weaned but are never old enough to leave their mothers once sold.
When a breeder escorts you to one area of her home and then carries her kittens in a basket from another room, you can assume you are viewing a caged litter. These kittens will dislike being separated and will be fearful of the new space. Such kittens will display feral tendencies and will dislike all contact having only being handled by the breeder when necessary. Many catteries advertise in their local city newspapers and it is wise to avoid registered kittens that are obviously underpriced. A large cattery that is closing down due to illness may be selling sick kittens at a greatly reduced price with the intention of moving from the premises after the litters have been sold. You may be informed that the kittens are all leaving on the same day. A contract may be signed, however that breeder intends to leave the city before the ink is dry.
There are excellent breeders providing loving environments for their litters which should be obvious when you visit their catteries. The best advice is to be well educated and follow your instincts with a buyer beware attitude.
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