What to pay attention to when visiting a breeder

Lucy22

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Hi! I've been lurking on here for a few months. My family has been looking into getting a cat and after researching the different breeds and getting a preliminary idea of what breeders we could go to we're finally at the visiting breeders portion of the process and I was wondering if there was anything to keep in mind aside from general hygiene and the cats' friendliness? Maybe how the breeder handles the cats or how the keep the males and females separated?
 

Maurey

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Where the cats live, how social they are. Are kittens curious and inquisitive, or particularly wary, especially of hands or feet? Stud(s) may be housed in a stud house, both for practical reasons and because of the smell. Are the studs social? Are they still part of the family, like the Queens? Pay attention to the state of the house, the amount of enrichment. The general attitude of the breeder towards the cats. The general health of the animals. How well does the breeder socialise their kittens (it’s not just important for puppies)? Do they attend a show before going to their forever homes, or some other outings? Even if they don’t go on to become show neuters, experiencing some thing like a show when they’re young is very beneficial for socialisation of a kitten.

Other important factors not necessarily dependant on visiting in person — breed relevant testing (both genetic and clinical (e.g. heart screening, hip scoring, etc)), infection and parasite testing of the cattery to prove their health. Proof of registration and breeding rights of the cats. You should be able to see all of the documentation for this if you ask. Kittens are sold no sooner than 12 weeks (14-16 ideal for slow growing breeds like NFC, MCO and RAG), and come either neutered (ideal) or on contract to be neutered. Kittens come with all paperwork ( registration/ownership, pedigree, passport), microchipped, kitten shots done. Breeders selling kittens without papers ”because they’re just going to be pets” is a huge red flag, and generally implies the kittens can’t be registered.
Breeder has a good and comprehensive contract they’re willing to go over with you, including clauses for your kitten becoming sick shortly after arrival or in the unfortunate event of it passing. Breeder should also show their cats (coronavirus nonwithstanding) and have a good amount of titled cats. Cats being labelled as “from grand champion lines”, especially if they’re not titled themselves is a big red flag. Prices should fall in line with local averages established by trusted breeders — anything suspiciously cheap, or even unusually expensive is suspect. Kittens should never be sold with breeding rights to anyone but registered breeders. If breeder will sell a kitten for a higher price with breeding rights to a random person, red flag, walk away.

ETA: Expect a waiting list, and to travel, especially for less numerous breeds. In most places it’s unusual to find a reputable breeder with available kittens, outside, perhaps, very highly popular breeds.
 
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Lucy22

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Thank you! This is very helpful! I've heard stud can also be co-owned and therefore not in the same house as the breeder and other cats, would that be a red flag?
 

Maurey

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Not heard of co-owning, personally, but as long as it’s not an open stud (will stud to anyone, regardless of knowing the owners of the Queen, essentially), and more like an external stud of a breeder they know and work with closely, maybe even their mentor, perhaps one they even sold to them, it’s important, especially if someone is newer to breeding, or has a very small cattery (generally advised to start with one, maybe two queens, generally from the mentor teaching the new breeder, and no studs. Queens are much easier to keep happy than studs, and intact male cats cat get violent/dangerous because of their hormones, at times). It also helps with keeping up diversity, and finding a better match for a cat, at times.

On that topic, people with a stud, and only one, maybe two girls is generally a hit of a red flag, but not always.
 
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Lucy22

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In the particular case I was thinking of the breeder has a stud he owns with a friend of his while also working with other breeders' studs depending on the queen to avoid inbreeding.
 

Maurey

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That sounds perfectly normal, though it’s more common in Europe than in the States, or Australia, as breeders commonly have cats in apartments, so tend to have less cats. At least that’s been my experience :)
 

GoldyCat

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Maurey Maurey co-owning cats is actually very common. In CFA the breeder and owner(s) are always listed in show catalogs. Many have multiple owners, one of which may or may not be the breeder.
 
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