You probably know the pet store is a very bad idea. A much better option is breed rescue organizations, but you may just not find the right cat in your area. What you're looking for is a reputable cat breeder. Breeders can easily be found in online directories such as our own Cat Breeders section. But how to choose a cat breeder who is ethical and reputable? What should you be looking for to make sure this is indeed an ethical breeder, who puts the best interest of their cats first and can be your source for a healthy and well-balanced companion animal?
Here's a short checklist that will help you assess the quality of the cattery you're dealing with –
TransparencyYou should never get the feeling that something is being hidden. The breeder should answer all your questions about the cats and the cattery, and allow visits to the premises. You should be given the option to view the living conditions of the queen and kittens.
DocumentationThe breeder should have all the necessary papers: not just proof of bloodlines, but also all relevant medical records of the queen and of your kitten of choice. They should provide you with a written health guarantee of your kitten, detailing any and all vaccinations, deworming, defleaing treatments etc.
A Clear Spay/Neuter PolicyAn ethical breeder will make sure that you do not breed your kitten (unless you're a fellow professional breeder yourself). They will either have already spayed/neutered the kittens, or require a written contract that ensures the kitten is fixed before a certain age. A reputable breeder will never ever suggest that you can breed your pedigreed pet cat.
Read more: Why You Should Spay And Neuter Your Cats
The Right AgeReputable breeders allow the kittens to remain with their mother until they are at least 12 weeks old. They will not sell younger kittens, no matter how much the future owner insists. Kittens must stay with the Mama cat and get their first set of vaccinations before being released to the buyer.
Read more: How Old Do Kittens Have To Be To Leave Their Mother
Long-term GuaranteeA good breeder will be happy to take back the cat, at any point in the future, and will state as much in the contract. They may not refund your money, but will be responsible for re-homing the cat in the future should you not be able to take care of her or him.
AvailabilityThis goes back to the transparency issue. A good breeder should make himself available for questions and advice, both prior to having the cat placed, and after. They should provide you with detailed instructions as necessary for you to provide a good home for the cat.
Active Interest in the Cat's Future HomeAn ethical breeder does not simply sell kittens. They actively screen buyers and make sure the cats go to good homes. Expect the breeder to ask many questions about your home and your experience with cats. When possible, some breeders may ask to visit your home and inspect it, to make sure the kitten goes to a safe and secure environment.
The ContractLast, but not least, reputable breeders use a contract. This is more than a mere formality. It is their way to ensure that the cat goes to a home where it will receive the best possible care. The contract is likely to mention the circumstances under which the breeder can take back the cat. This is an important clause, which helps the breeder protect the cat from future abuse.
Why You Should Buy Only from an Ethical BreederTo put it simply – if you're not buying from a reputable, ethical breeder, you are buying from a backyard breeder or worse, a kitten mill. These breeders are less likely to understand the breed genetics and work towards creating healthy well-behaved cats.
Buying from an ethical breeder ensures you get a cat that's been bred not just for looks, but first and foremost for good health and temperament. When dealing with purebred animals, this is crucial. You need to know that the breeder you're working with knows what they're doing, and can truly deliver you with the cat of your dreams. Still not sure how to choose the right cat breeder for you? Post your questions in our Cat Showing & Ethical Breeding Forum and let our members help.
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