There are many questions you might
wish to ask a prospective breeder. However, there are many
questions you might not think to ask if you have never purchased
a pedigreed animal before. It's important for you to understand
your legal rights, your own responsibilities, the breeders'
responsibilities, and areas where misunderstandings occur
most. In the vast majority of cases, the breeders you encounter
will be ethical, responsible folks trying to do the best
by their cats. These questions will help you make sure that
is the type of person you are dealing with.
1. What do you think is special about
Beware the breeder who does not wax poetic
about the virtues of their breed. Most breeders are happy
to tell you everything about their breed and why it’s the
best breed in the world.
Be prepared, though: They may ask you the
2. Do you show your cats?
Showing is not necessarily vital to whether
it’s a good pet or not, but showing is a good indication
that you’re working with a serious breeder. There are some
breeds of cats, particularly rare breeds that are not accepted
in a lot of associations, where the person may not show
a great deal. This may simply be due to lack of opportunity.
Alternatively, they may breed a style of cat that does not conform to breed standards but is an acceptable alternative, such as the "doll-faced" Persian or the traditional or applehead Siamese.
However, in most cases, if a person is
breeding cats and isn’t showing, this should raise a red
flag for you. Showing is not only fun, it’s an opportunity
for breeders to get to know one another, network, and have
their cats judged against conformation standards. A quality
breeder is always trying to improve the breed, and showing
is one way to check the progress of the breeding program.
A breeder who is not involved in the show
community probably doesn’t have a lot of contact with other
breeders, probably isn’t working with other breeders, and
may not be doing a lot of outcrossing as a result (breeding
out to unrelated lines). They aren’t building a good network
of other breeders to rely upon. Breeders who do show (the
majority of them) usually will not work with a breeder who
If the breeder indicates that they do not
show, ask why. If they tell you that the breed is rare and
opportunities are scarce, this may be OK.
If the person tells you that the breed
is not showable, make sure you’re working with a legitimate
breed. Do your homework and know what you’re buying. There
are people who are working with new breeds, but there are
other people who are just trying to sell you an ordinary
cat by convincing you that it’s something special. Be sure
you know what your breed looks like. This sounds silly,
but there are a few people who have tried to pass off mixed-breed
cats as pedigreed ones, even when they looked nothing like
the breed in question. Also beware of people trying to sell
something as a “mix” – a local paper here advertised “Siamalayans”.
There is no such breed; they were advertising these as a
mix of Himalayan and Siamese. A mixed-breed cat is a mixed-breed
cat, no matter what pretty name you put on it.
3. Do the parents of this kitten have
titles? If so, what are they?
Again, while it isn’t strictly necessary
for a pet to come from high-titled lines, it does indicate
that the person is trying to improve the breed and is breeding
quality animals. Don’t worry if one of the parents lacks
a title – particularly a female. Since females can go into
heat at an early age, hormones can have an adverse effect
on their coat and condition. This means that even a top-show-quality
female cat might not be able to be shown when she turns
8 months old.
Also, with some breeds in some associations,
one or more of the parents may be “AOV” (any other variety).
These are cats that are pedigreed members of their breed,
but may be of a nonshowable color, or have a conformation
issue. For example, a straight-eared Scottish Fold cannot
be shown as a Scottish Fold, but it is an important and
valuable member of a breeding program. The cat may be of
top quality in every other way, but because the ears did
not fold, the cat cannot be shown. This is not only acceptable,
but in this case it’s the mark of a responsible Scottish
Fold breeder to use straight-eared Folds in their breeding
Don’t be too impressed with the title “Champion”.
Just about any pedigreed cat without actively disqualifying
faults can earn this title. While it means the cat was shown,
there are many cats of truly pet quality who have managed
to earn this title, particularly in less common breeds.
A minority-breed cat can usually get this title in a single
show. It’s not even particularly difficult. In a “big” breed
such as Persian, Maine Coon, or Siamese, the Champion title
is a little more difficult, simply because there is occasionally
competition for the necessary points.
You want to see at least a few Grand Champions
(in some associations, Double, Triple, Quadruple, and Supreme
Grands) in the cat’s pedigree. Do a little homework to find
out what the titles in question mean in the association
in which the cat is registered.
4. Do you practice early spay/neuter?
More and more responsible breeders practice
early spay/neuter. This means that the kittens are spayed
or neutered prior to leaving their homes. While it is the
mark of a responsible breeder to do this, it is not necessarily
the mark of an irresponsible breeder if they do not. Not
all breeders are convinced that early spay/neuter is safe
(it is), and others argue that it is not a good option for
their particular breed, which may certainly be true. Some
breeds are slow developers and should not have this surgery
so young. Some breeders go to vets who will not alter young
kittens. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for not
practicing early spay/neuter.
If the breeder does not do early spay/neuter,
ask for their reasons. It should raise a red flag if the
breeder cites “expense” as the reason. Spaying or neutering
at a young age does not cost more, and it should make you
wonder where else the breeder is cutting corners.
5. If you do not practice early spay/neuter,
do you have a spay/neuter agreement?
A breeder who does not sell kittens who
have already been altered, that breeder should at least
have some kind of spay/neuter agreement, unless that kitten
is being sold specifically for breeding purposes. If the
kitten is being sold as a pet without a spay/neuter agreement,
this should be a warning for you. This breeder does not
really care what happens to this kitten or what decisions
will be made for it. This is not a breeder you wish to work
6. At what age do you place your kittens
in new homes?
Responsible breeders sell their kittens
at 12 weeks or older. Many do not sell their kittens
until they are between four and six months old. There are
some who argue that a kitten is ready to be sold at age
10 weeks; while I don’t personally believe that this is
best, it’s within acceptable ranges. However, any breeder
who offers you a kitten younger than 10 weeks of age is
not up on his or her research and doesn’t have the kitten’s
best interest in mind. Run -- don’t walk -- from a breeder
selling kittens so young.
A kitten younger than 10 weeks of age is
not fully weaned or socialized. Most are not fully weaned
or socialized until age 12 weeks or older. While some kitten
buyers believe "the younger, the better" and that an older
kitten will not bond, this simply isn’t true. Cats are not
pack animals and are able to bond with new humans at any
time through their lives, even into old age.
What IS true is that a kitten separated
from their mother too young may not learn to bond properly
at all. The weeks between six and twelve weeks of age are
an important time for a kitten’s emotional and mental development.
It’s during this time that the kitten learns "cat language"
(the body language used by other cats), learns to socialize
properly with mother and siblings, learns that humans are
really OK -- most very young kittens largely ignore the
humans around them -- and develops the confidence to face
the outside world alone. By age twelve weeks, the mother-kitten
bond is beginning to break naturally. A kitten separated
from the mother and siblings before this process is over
may have lifelong problems interacting with other cats;
may never be able to bond with humans properly; be fearful,
skittish, or shy; and develop inappropriate attachments
Most kittens, left to their own devices,
will become fully weaned between ten and twelve weeks of
age. Most breeders begin introducing food sometime between
four and five weeks of age, and the kittens gradually substitute
mother’s milk with solid food. However, weaning is a process,
not an event; kittens will continue to nurse and eat food
together until they stop nursing on their own or Mom begins
tiring of the activity and stops allowing them to nurse.
The best solution for their emotional and physical health
is to let the process take its course naturally.
More importantly, the six-to-twelve week
period is a critical time for a kitten’s health development.
This is the time when the immune system is kicking over
from the immunity gained from mother’s milk to immunity
gained from vaccinations. This is also a process and does
not happen overnight. This period can be a stressful time
for the kitten’s immature immune system. A kitten subjected
to the extra stress of being taken from familiar surroundings,
mother, and siblings on top of this immune system stress
is far more susceptible to upper respiratory infections
or digestive upsets, particularly diarrhea.
A six-to-eight week old kitten is an infant.
Leave them with Mom and don’t work with a breeder who would
force them to do just that.
7. What support do you offer to new owners?
A breeder should be a resource for a new
owner, available by phone and/or e-mail to answer questions.
You do not wish to work with a breeder who is not willing
to be there for you, even after money has changed hands
and the kitten has come home.
8. What paperwork do you give with your
Never accept a pedigreed cat without proper
registration paperwork. The paperwork is your proof that
you got what you paid for: a registered (or registerable)
Avoid a breeder who tells you that he or
she does not register kittens because it’s too expensive.
Registration is very inexpensive: about $10 to register
the entire litter, then about $10 each to register kittens
individually. A breeder who cannot afford registration has
no business breeding cats.
Some breeders will give a transfer slip
to the new owner. This transfer slip should reflect the
sex and color of the kitten, and shows that the litter was
registered. You will be able to register the kitten individually
with this transfer slip. So, the most money that a breeder
must pay to register kittens is $10, assuming that the breeder
registers only the litter and leaves it up to the buyer
to register the individual kitten themselves (which is fun,
because then you get to pick out the kitten’s registered
name yourself). Sometimes, particularly with an older kitten,
or if the breeder is fussy about names, the kitten will
come already registered. In this case, the transfer slip
will be the kitten’s individual registration paper with
the ownership signed over on the reverse side.
It is not good practice for a breeder to
sell kittens without papers, even when the kittens have
been litter registered. Some breeders do this on the theory
that a person will not breed a cat who does not have papers, but this is no guarantee this will not happen.
Some breeders withhold paperwork until
new owner submits proof that the cat or kitten was spayed
or neutered. This is a perfectly acceptable practice, as
long as the breeder sends the promised papers promptly upon
submitted proof of spay/neuter.
The papers are your proof that you have
received what you paid for, and without them you have no
way of knowing this. At the very least, you should get either
the kitten’s transfer slip (CFA breeders call this the "blue
slip" because . . . well, because it’s blue) or its individual
registration slip if it’s already been individually registered
under its name. The blue transfer slip does not have to
be signed. The registration slip should be signed on the
back transferring ownership to you.
You should also request a pedigree -- partly
because it’s fun to see where your cat came from. In New
York State, for example, a pedigree at the time of sale
is required by law.
9. Do you take advance deposits on kittens?
a. Do you accept advance deposits against
b. What if the kitten I want becomes unavailable?
c. Under what circumstances can I expect a refund of the
This series of questions covers one of
the areas where a large number of misunderstandings occur.
Many breeders accept advance deposits on
kittens. In some cases, it may be the only way to ensure
getting a kitten from a particular breeder, especially if
it’s a rare breed.
Some breeders accept advance deposit against
unborn kittens. This can be a risky move because, of course,
no breeder can guarantee how many kittens a queen will have,
what colors, what genders, or how many will survive (even
in the best catteries, kitten mortality is higher than you
might expect. Even if they know how many kittens a queen
is carrying, it’s not unusual for one or more kittens not
to survive, particularly with a first litter).
If you are particular about a color and/or
gender, you may have to wait longer -- sometimes several
months or even a year or two. You need to know exactly what
a breeder will do for you if your desired color or gender
does not appear in a litter. Color is, of course, a matter
of personal preference. Gender is not important if you are
not planning to breed; there are few important personality
differences between the genders in cats if they are altered.
Is that color combination possible with a particular breeding?
For example, if you desperately want a calico Persian and
the breeding in question is between a blue female and a
black male, calico offspring is genetically impossible.
Will the breeder give you priority on another litter if
what you want does not appear? Will the breeder refund your
deposit on request if you decide to look elsewhere, or are
you required to wait for another litter?
In general, the less fussy you are about
color and/or gender, the less likely you are to have
to wait as long for a kitten.
Some breeders require a deposit to reserve
a kitten, born or unborn. This is fair to ask, because while
they are reserving the kitten for you, they are turning
down other people’s requests for the same kitten -- other
You need to ask whether the deposit is
refundable or not, and under what circumstances. For example,
some breeders will refund a deposit simply by request, but
this takes you out of "line" for a kitten. Others will refund
a deposit if the expected kitten dies or the desired color
or gender does not show up in a given litter, but will not
refund your money if you simply change your mind. Others
will not refund deposits at all.
Be sure to get the stated deposit agreement
in writing if you leave a deposit, and know what you are
getting yourself into. The written deposit should state
clearly the circumstances under which you can expect a full
refund or a partial refund. Be sure to get a written receipt
for any money you leave. Never rely on oral agreements
in regard to money.
And don’t complain if you don’t get a deposit
refund if you had signed a contract stating that the deposit
was non-refundable! Read these clauses carefully and be
prepared to accept the consequences.
10. Do you offer a written sales contract?
a. What are the important points of
your sales contract?
b. Do you require co-ownership of a cat?
A sales contract specifies the exact kitten
you are purchasing and any specific guarantees the breeder
extends to you. It should list the kitten’s name, color,
gender, breed, and parents, and should be signed both by
you and by the breeder.
Be sure to read each line of the contract
very carefully. Be sure to think about each clause and if
you are willing to live with the consequences. If you sign
a guarantee that states the breeder will not accept a kitten
back after 72 hours, don’t expect to return a kitten after
that time. If the breeder states you must get a veterinary
examination of your kitten in a specified time, do it and
save receipts; this can protect you later. If the breeder
states "no declaw" and you intend to declaw the cat, bring
this up now. Once you have signed it, and once the breeder
has signed it, you are obligated to follow it.
Unfortunately, sales contracts rarely hold
up in a court of law. However, this can be a critical document
should a dispute arise between you and the breeder. While
it may not hold up as a document for a regular lawsuit,
it can be a crucial piece of evidence in small claims court
both for you and against you. It is best for all parties
to discuss a sales contract thoroughly before either party
signs, and both parties should do their best to adhere to
the contract. If you sign a contract knowing you will break
it, you are committing fraud. If a breeder fails to live
up to his or her side of the contract, you have an important
tool to gain restitution.
If a breeder does not offer a written sales
contract, demand one. It’s as much for the breeder’s protection
as your own. Some breeders state that if they trust a person
enough to have a cat of theirs that they trust them enough
to sell without a written contract, but this gives you no
protection if something goes wrong.
Co-ownership is not usual in a pet arrangement,
though it is more common when selling show or breeder cats,
particularly to a person new to breeding and showing. In
this arrangement, the cat’s registered owner is legally
a co-owner of the cat. Many breeders practice this for a
variety of reasons, some good, some not. Some of the good
reasons to co-own include mentoring new breeders.
Unsolicited opinion here: I am not a proponent of co-ownerships in most cases, and
almost never with the sale of pets. While this can be useful
for new breeders and building a mentor relationship, it
is also a situation that can set the stage for conflicts.
If a problem arises between you and the co-owner, you may
find yourself in a bad situation. The signature of all registered
co-owners is required to transfer ownership of a cat. You
may find yourself in a position where you want to alter
and pet out a cat, and you are prohibited because the co-owner
will not sign off either on the altering or on the registration
slip. I have known many breeders who had serious falling-outs
with co-owners who were reduced to altering and giving away
co-owned cats without papers because a co-owner would not
sign off on ownership -- even when the cat in question is
beyond breeding years, is not a good breeder, or has disqualifying
show faults. Enter co-ownerships with care.
My personal opinion is that if a person
trusts me with their cat, they trust me to make the right
decisions by that cat, but this is a more difficult position
to advance until you are more experienced and better known
in the fancy.
11. Do you have a written health guarantee?
- What conditions do you specifically guarantee against?
- Are there any conditions that would void the health
- Under what conditions would you accept a cat back?
- Do you offer a genetic health guarantee?
- What shots and tests do you do on your kittens prior
to placement? Do you have any shots you do not recommend?
- Do new kittens come with a veterinary health certificate?
Could I get one if I requested it?
A health guarantee should, at the very
least, specifically state the following:
- guarantees that a cat is free of certain conditions
at the time of sale. These may include internal or external
parasites, known communicable diseases, and known genetic
- guarantees a period of time after sale in which the
cat is guaranteed free of communicable diseases
- states what vaccinations a cat has received and on
what dates these were received
- gives a time frame when a buyer must have the cat
inspected by a licensed veterinarian to confirm the
cat’s state of health
Some examples of conditions a breeder might
guarantee against include:
- FeLV (feline leukemia)
- Upper respiratory infections, including panleukopenia,
rhinotracheitis, and calici
- Known genetic problems
- FIV* (feline immunodeficiency virus)
- FIP** (feline infectious peritonitis)
* Existing tests for FIV test for
the presence of antibodies against the feline immunodeficiency
virus, not the virus itself.
** Testing for FIP is actually inconclusive.
A cat can be tested for FIP, come back with a high FIP
titer, and never develop FIP. This is because the current
FIP test does not test specifically for the FIP virus,
but rather for the presence of coronavirus antibodies.
It is less specific than the FIV test because it cannot
even isolate FIP from other coronaviruses, of which
FIP is only one. A FIP titer measures the presence of
coronavirus antibodies. A diagnosis of FIP can only
be made based on symptoms combined with the test itself.
A breeder offering guarantees against FIP is, at best,
making a highly educated guess on the cat’s chances
of developing FIP.
Some breeders will state circumstances
under which they are not obligated to follow their health
guarantee. This stands to reason, because there are things
a buyer can do that will seriously compromise the cat’s
health that are not within the breeder’s control. Most health
guarantees with a void clause will state that allowing the
cat to roam outdoors voids the health guarantee, because
allowing a cat outdoors exposes it to a much wider variety
of parasites, illnesses, and opportunities for injury.
You also need to get a medical history
of the kitten to give to your veterinarian so you know what
shots a kitten may have had. At the very least, a kitten
should have had at least 2 vaccinations against rhinotracheitis,
panleukopenia, and calici, commonly called the distemper
vaccine. Other vaccinations depend on age and practice.
Some breeders also write in caveats against
certain vaccines or practices. The breeder may believe that
a certain vaccine does more harm than good and that they
will not be held responsible for consequences if the buyer
goes against the breeder’s advice on the matter. For example,
many breeders caution against the use of the feline leukemia
vaccine or the feline infectious peritonitis vaccine. They
may also hold the buyer entirely responsible if the buyer
chooses to use only homeopathic remedies for their cats
instead of traditional veterinary medicine.
A veterinary health certificate shows that
the cat was examined and found healthy at the time of examination.
If the cat is shipped via airplane, a vet health certificate
dated within ten days is required for him or her to fly.
One important clause of a health guarantee
states the window of time in which a breeder will accept
a cat back for health reasons for a full refund, a partial
refund, or no refund.
12. What forms of payment do you accept?
Do you accept alternate forms of payment, such as payment
plans, credit cards, or escrow?
There are two sides to this story. On the
one hand, many breeders have gotten burned by buyers who
have sent bad checks for kittens; it’s very difficult to
collect on bad checks, particularly across state lines.
On the other hand, buyers have also gotten burned by unethical
breeders who take money and do not send promised kittens.
All breeders accept secure sources of funding,
such as cash or money orders. Never pay cash for a cat unless
you trust the breeder implicitly. Paying in cash leaves
no record of payment beyond a written receipt (and if you
must pay with cash, demand a written, dated receipt signed
both by you and by the breeder. If you have reason to worry,
consider getting the receipt notarized). If you must pay
with cash or with a money order, choose the money order;
at least you have the receipt from the purchase of the money
order. This does not prove the person received the money,
but it does prove the money order was purchased for the
specified amount. If the breeder accepts bank checks or
personal checks, you may also opt for that.
If you must send a money order or check
through the mail, send it certified/return receipt so you
have a record that payment was received.
Some breeders accept credit cards directly,
and if you have that option, use it, even if you can pay
for the kitten out of pocket. Simply send the money to your
credit card company instead of to the breeder. This offers
you whatever buyer’s protection is available through your
credit card company. In a worst-case scenario, you could
dispute charges. Credit cards offer you some protection.
However, becoming a credit card merchant
is a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive process requiring
the breeder to submit to exhaustive credit checks and a
costly application process. Plus, the breeder must purchase
software or a card reader that will allow him or her to
process cards through their bank network – at an outlay
of several hundred dollars alone.
More breeders today are taking advantage
of services such as PayPal (http://www.paypal.com)
that allow them to accept credit card payments. If your
breeder does not offer this service, encourage that breeder
to check out these programs. The breeder may ask you to
pay a little extra to cover the surcharge (PayPal, for example,
puts a monetary limit on how much a single person can accept
in one transaction or within a certain time period without
getting a business account. This threshold is lower than
what most breeders charge for a single kitten, so a cattery
with PayPal access must pay a small percentage surcharge
to use this service). However, it’s worth it to get the
extra protection afforded by a credit card payment.
An option that is not used much today that
could be a good benefit to buyers and breeders is using
an escrow service. An escrow service acts as a go-between
between buyer and seller. The buyer pays the money to the
escrow service, which holds the money until the buyer has
indicated that the seller has received the goods and that
the goods are in satisfactory condition, at which point
the escrow service pays the seller. If there is a problem
with the kitten, the buyer can instruct the escrow service
not to pay the seller. However, the seller also has protection:
until the matter is cleared up, the buyer doesn’t receive
a refund of the money either. The money is held by the escrow
company until the problem is resolved. The only problem
with escrow services is that they usually require some kind
of delivery confirmation – and they have tracking numbers
from UPS or Federal Express in mind!
13. Do you offer refund or replacement,
and if so, under what conditions? Under what circumstances
will you take a kitten or cat back?
Serious misunderstandings occur over this
issue. This is an issue best discussed in advance before
either side commits to a sale.
Many buyers assume that kittens or cats
may be returned at any time for a full refund or replacement.
While this may be true within a certain short period of
time, this is rarely indefinite.
Some states have laws that require a cat
or kitten can be returned for health reasons within a defined
period – for example, the New York State Pet Lemon Law states
a cat or kitten may be returned for a full refund or replacement
within fourteen days. At present, the following states have
pet lemon laws on the books: Arkansas, California, Connecticut,
Florida, Maine, Massachussetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.
However, some of these laws apply only to dogs, not to cats.
If you live in one of these states, contact your state attorney
general’s office to find out the extent of your state’s
law. Be warned, however: even if you live in a state with
a pet lemon law, you may not be covered if you purchased
the animal from a state that does not have one. Conversely,
if you purchased a pet from a state covered by a pet lemon
law and you live in a state that is not covered, you may
have protection from that law. The important fact is the
originating location of the pet, not where it ended up.
Laws aside, actual practice varies considerably.
Some breeders do not offer refund at all – only replacement
with an animal of approximately equal value. Some offer
refund or replacement within a certain time frame, from
as short as a couple days to as long as one month. Be sure
you understand fully the time frame for refund or replacement,
and the circumstances under which you can expect refund
Some breeders only allow refund or replacement
for health reasons. Others have a blanket return-for-any-reason-no-questions-asked
policy. Many breeders will take a cat back at any time in
its life, but will not offer a refund.
Why don’t breeders offer full refunds after
a specific period of time?
Breeders most commonly offer refunds or
replacement to protect buyers against unforeseen medical
problems, failure to settle in, personality conflicts, and
other problems. However, the period in which a breeder is
actually responsible for problems is fairly short. The kitten
quickly enters a period when he or she is influenced strongly
by the environment of the new owner: what the owner feeds
the kitten, the conditions in which the kitten lives, contact
with new animals, etc., and any influence of the breeder
lessens considerably. For example, a breeder friend of mine
had a kitten returned because the kitten was suffering from
raging diarrhea and had been for over a week since arriving
at its new home. The breeder discovered that although she
had sent the kitten to its new home with a supply of its
accustomed dry cat food, the new owner had immediately changed
the diet to the cheap canned food she was feeding her other
cat. Within a couple days back on its accustomed diet, the
kitten’s digestive system was back to normal. In this case,
it was easily correctible, but she learned something valuable
about the new cat owner and felt it was in the kitten’s
best interests to offer the refund and place the kitten
However, a kitten is not an item that increases
in value over time. It’s not like a rare gem or a collectible.
It’s more like a car that loses half its monetary value
the moment it’s driven off the lot and continues to lose
value from there. Some owners feel justified in demanding
refunds even months after a kitten sale on the theory that
the breeder can resell the kitten and get the money back.
This is not true. Even an older kitten of nine or ten months
is much harder to place than a younger kitten, as most people,
wrongly believing older cats or kittens are less able to
bond with humans than younger ones are (wrong; cats are
not pack animals and can bond at any age), so the breeder
will have to accept a much lower price. Plus, beyond unforeseen
genetic problems (detailed below), the breeder simply isn’t
responsible for what has happened to the kitten in the intervening
months or years since purchase. Its main influence has been
the environment of its pet home.
Some breeders offer what are called “genetic
health guarantees”, meaning that the breeder will offer
a refund or replacement of a cat or kitten that dies of
an unforeseen genetic problem within a set period of time,
usually one to five years. The hitch to this is that they
require this diagnosis to be confirmed through a veterinary
necropsy (autopsy) at the owner’s expense. Don’t assume
that you can demand a refund or replacement of a kitten
who died without veterinary proof of the cause – and that
the cause can be traced back to the breeder. Most breeders
very much want to know if there are possible genetic problems
and will be grateful for (though saddened by) the information.
A few final thoughts
Pet ownership is a lifelong responsibility.
A pet owner must be willing to assume emotional and financial
ownership (and risk) of owning a cat. There are sad cases
where a kitten is sold into a home and has recurring health
problems right from the beginning, where a strong case can
be made that this was the breeder’s fault. In these instances,
the breeder should assume responsibility for rectifying
the situation, and the pet owner should involve the breeder
right from the beginning. The important thing is to find
the kind of breeder who is willing and able to provide such
assistance. A good breeder is horrified to discover one
of the kittens he or she sold is having health problems
and is eager to clear up any issues.
If there is one message I would want any
reader to come away with, it is this: Never, ever, ever
view a pedigreed kitten purchase as a rescue. If you come
across the (fortunately rare) instance of a sickly kitten
in poor conditions, do not buy it. Too many people have
come to grief over this very situation: buying a sickly,
poorly-socialized kitten or cat from a breeder and viewing
the purchase as "rescuing" a kitten from a bad situation.
As pitiable as that kitten’s situation is, you are not rescuing
it so much as you are encouraging a bad breeder to stay
in business. You can bet that a breeder who is raising kittens
in bad conditions will not back up that kitten with any
kind of health guarantees or financial support for that
kitten, so if you do it, you are on your own. If the kitten’s
conditions are bad, report it to the appropriate authorities.
Don’t encourage a bad breeder. Besides, if you buy, you
are saving only one kitten, and doing nothing for the others
that are there or will come into that situation later. If
everyone stopped buying from bad breeders, such people would
have no incentive to breed cats. It’s clear what that breeder’s
priority is, and it isn’t the welfare of the kittens.
A good breeder puts the health, happiness,
and welfare of the kittens before all other concerns, and
this shows in clean conditions, the sparkling good health
of the vast majority of the cats and kittens (even good
breeders may get sickly cats from time to time through no
fault of their own), and the good personalities of their
kittens. Kittens from good breeders will be well socialized
and will not be afraid of people. Some will be shyer by
nature than others, but they will not act as if they believe
people will hurt them. Well socialized kittens will adapt
to new homes relatively quickly. No responsible breeder
would release a kittens for sale who had a current contagious
illness or external parasites such as fleas, ticks, earmites,
or especially ringworm. In southern climates where parasites
are endemic, internal parasites such as worms can occur
even in a well-brought-up cat raised in good conditions;
the good breeder gives kittens going to a new home a good
general worming, and the good pet buyer repeats this at
the kitten’s first veterinary examination.