Confessions of a Cat Breeder
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When Jasmine first started her cattery, the breeders in her city would not share information or permit her to purchase cats that she could use in her breeding program. She had to search elsewhere and learn alone, by trial and error, how to buy breeding stock, and to professionally breed purebred kittens. She soon realized there was a knack to bringing back buyers, their family members, and many more referrals.
As her reputation for breeding healthy, quality cats grew, Jasmine was continually contacted by the same breeders who had previously refused to assist her. It seemed the word spread, to the different catteries in her area, about the successful breeding secrets that she had developed on her own. Her small cattery worked so well, due to her business ethics, that she was entrusted to arrange sales of kittens six months to a year prior to their conception. She encountered many hungry breeders anxious for the same success with their catteries making a good income.
I lived alone in total harmony with two devoted, domestic male cats. With time I became anxious to purchase a purebred female kitten, but knew very little about the different breeds. Worse still, I was unaware of the dynamics I would create by becoming a multicat household living within a limited space. However, like many others driven by a strong case of 'kitten fever', I ignored my good instincts.
For weeks, I frantically searched the ads in my local newspaper until one appeared for Persians and Himalayans. Twenty years ago, I’d never heard of these types of purebreds, and in my initial contact by phone, the breeder seemed reluctant to answer any questions.
The only cattery I viewed was in a breeder’s small, cramped home, where several litters were confined to a minuscule kitten area. Her stud cats were kept out of sight, but their presence was clearly evident by the heavily scented odour of spraying males.
The breeder had been impatient and rude when I spoke to her earlier by phone, and this attitude became even more apparent during the telephone inquiries she received while I was in her home. Despite her manner, I knew from the first moment I entered her cattery, that I would one day become a breeder myself. But, although I’d found my true calling, it took ten more years before I would realize my dream.
As a naive buyer, sitting in Theresa’s cattery kitchen, I questioned her regarding my situation at home with my two male cats. I was living in a one bedroom apartment and didn’t know what to expect if I brought a female home. The breeder reassured me that there would be no long-term friction.
Despite the breeder’s abrupt manner, I was delighted with being surrounded by so many kittens. I felt overwhelmed trying to decide which kitten to purchase. Theresa became impatient, and finally made the decision for me by picking one up and saying, “Well, you seem to like this one”. Although I knew her selling technique was wrong, and I was being rushed, I still left a deposit.
Due to the breeder’s attitude, I didn’t dare contact her until six weeks had passed and my baby was ready to come home. Over the weeks, I had wanted to visit my kitten, after having seen her only once. However, I remembered the breeder’s annoyance, and felt uncomfortable with confrontation. As a result, I barely recognized my kitten, as she’d been only four weeks old when I first saw her, and now she was ten weeks.
Theresa again assured me that my two male cats would have little problem adjusting to the kitten. Now, with my knowledge as a breeder, I would have given specific advice to a buyer in that situation. I was totally unprepared for the drastic, upsetting changes that soon occurred.
My males were tightly bonded, but that relationship permanently changed when my female kitten was introduced. Theresa should have made my kitten’s homecoming easier, but her only interest was money, and one less kitten to sell. She had little regard for the well-being of the kitten, or the upsetting consequences that took place in my home.
As my contact with breeders increased, I soon realized that Theresa was typical of many breeders. When I started my cattery, I used the different skills that I’d acquired when in business management. I recalled Theresa’s poor practices, and vowed never to treat prospective buyers in such a manner. My cattery became a labor of love, and has been one of my greatest achievements and learning experiences. In my cattery business, I’ve used the memory of Theresa’s lack of customer relations as incentive, and I’ve always given my buyers the information and courtesy that I would have appreciated when I was the buyer.
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