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FAQ: Why do breeders find new homes for adult cats?

The reason breeders choose to "pet out" adult pedigreed cats (placing cats in pet homes) are many. Most of them come down to one thing: love. These breeders have the best interests of the cat at heart.

Most people who breed live in normal-sized homes and apartments. They can (and should) only keep as many adult cats as they can give plenty of love and attention. A breeding program requires a certain number of adults to keep viable: you need a few queens, perhaps a stud or two. Most breeders also keep a few adult spays or neuters to show when their breeding cats are busy raising litters.

Imagine, now, that you are a breeder and that you have decided that six adult cats is your limit. You feel you can care for and give six adult cats all the love and attention they deserve. You have six breeding cats right now, and one of them has a litter of kittens. In that litter is a female kitten with great potential. As she grows older, it becomes obvious that the quality of this cat is better than one of your queens you have breeding now. You decide that this cat will become a breeder for you, and that you will spay the queen whose quality is not as good. After all, it's important for a breeder to constantly improve the quality of the breeding cats.

You've spayed the queen, but now you have seven cats. You decided six would be your strict limit and know it's important to the emotional health of your cats to stick to your original notion that you can only keep six. The cat is only two and a half years old and has produced two decent litters of kittens for you. It's time for her to retire to a home where she can be the beloved pet in a one- or two-cat household, the center of a family's attention, rather than the seventh cat of a breeding program.

Or imagine another scenario: You have the maximum number of cats you have decided to keep. Two are neutered boys you have decided to show. One of the neutered boys doesn't like to be shown. In fact, he hates it. It's not good for a cat to be shown if he doesn't like it. The cat wants to be a pet, not a show cat, but it's important for you to show in your program so that judges can evaluate the progeny of your breeding program. This is how you know if you are doing a good job. One of your queens has a kitten you think would be an excellent show prospect. You decide that the boy who doesn't like showing would be happier in a pet home, so you decide to find him that excellent home where he can be spoiled in the manner he deserves.

Or perhaps a female destined for breeding has medical trouble with pregnancy or birth. Or perhaps she is not a good mother, but a delightful pet. It is best to spay her and pet her out under those circumstances.

Perhaps it is your policy to spay or neuter cats over a certain age, because the kittens tend to be healthier when born to younger parents.

Some cats just don't like living with a number of other cats. They're people cats, not cat cats. They would prefer to have a human all their own, instead of being one of a pack. These cats are better off in pet homes than in catteries.

Deciding to pet out an adult cat is an act of LOVE on the part of the breeder. The hardest part of breeding is letting go of your cats, especially the adults -- because good breeders become attached to every cat they produce. But it's important for an ethical breeder to recognize the need to keep numbers down to a level where every cat gets the individual attention they deserve. Breeders must have the emotional and physical health of their cats uppermost in their minds.

It's also important for breeders to keep the best interests of the cat at heart, and not selfishly keep everything they produce, whether it is in the best interests of the cat or not. Some cats are happier in a one- or two-pet household, at the center of a family's attention. A good breeder recognizes this and does what he or she can to make sure that every cat they produce is in the happiest situation it can be.

For more information about this subject, please refer to my article about retired champions in the October 1996 issue of CATS Magazine.



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