Questions to Ask a Cat Breeder

Reputable breeders are not only happy to answer questions but also welcome them as the sign of the caring buyer they want to share their cats and kittens with. You can find out a lot about the breeder by asking a few questions. Try these and listen carefully for the right answer:

  • How long have you been breeding cats? How many breeds do you have? Do you show? Why or why not? You're looking for someone who has been breeding cats long enough to know what they are doing, someone who concentrates on one breed, or maybe two or three related ones. And here's a tip: A breeder who shows their cats is a good thing. Showing is a sign of someone who has confidence in their cats and also someone who's not just into breeding to make a buck.

  • What congenital defects are in this breed? How are you breeding to avoid those defects? You want someone who's up-front and knowledgeable about problems in the breed, and someone who's actively working to minimize them.

  • How large is your breeding operation? Where do your cats spend most of their time? You're looking for someone who isn't overwhelmed with cats, so each kitten can get the care and socialization that are so important. Make sure you get a look "behind the scenes" to ensure the cats are kept in healthy conditions — don't just take the breeder's word for it.

  • Are your cats tested for infectious diseases? May I have the kitten checked out by my veterinarian before I adopt? A reputable breeder keeps his cattery clear of preventable illness by making sure infectious diseases don't exist among his cats in the first place, and by never allowing cats who haven't tested negative for these diseases to interact with his cats. Do not buy a cat from a breeder who does not allow you to seek the advice of a veterinarian of your choice . . . it's always important to get a professional opinion.

  • What sort of health guarantees do you offer? What happens if the kitten gets sick? Not even the most reputable of breeders can offer a 100 percent guarantee that your kitten is going to stay healthy. Your pet may become ill within days of your bringing her home, or she may manifest congenital health defects months or even years later. A reputable breeder, shelter, or rescue group is going to want to play fair and is prepared to compensate you for some of the financial loss — although sadly, not the personal one — should your new kitten become ill or die.

  • What makes this kitten or cat "pet quality" or "show quality"? Most people looking for a pedigreed cat end up with "pet quality" because of the large expense associated with acquiring "show quality" cats, and because breeders prefer to place their "best" cats with people whom they know intend to show them. A knowledgeable, reputable breeder can honestly assess a kitten's show potential and explain what "defect" classifies the animal as pet quality.

    A pet-quality cat is in no way a lesser companion. Very few cats are born with the traits they need to be truly competitive in the show world. Their markings may be wrong, or their coats may not be lush enough. Their ears may not fold forward or curl back as their show standards dictate, or their "expression" may not match the ideal for their breed. These missing traits don't mean those kittens aren't beautiful or loving. As long as their faults aren't health- or temperament-related, such cats are wonderful prospects for purchase or adoption.

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