If you've decided on a purebred kitten or cat, your best source is a responsible breeder committed to the health and well-being of his cats and his breed. Such breeders try hard to match each cat, regardless of age, to the right home, and they're reliable resources for their buyers for the life of the cat.
Responsible breeders plan each litter carefully and provide good pre- and post-natal care and a clean, warm, safe environment. They socialize their kittens and give them good veterinary care. When the kittens are old enough, they place each one carefully. Their kittens aren't merchandise—they're bits of the breeder's heart.
A responsible breeder also …
- Keeps her kittens 12 to 16 weeks.
- Answers your questions and asks lots of her own.
- Welcomes you to visit and meet her cats (with restrictions to prevent disease).
- Belongs to one or more cat organizations.
- Screens for hereditary diseases that occur in the breed.
- Knows about relatives of the cats she breeds.
- Requires pets to be spayed or neutered.
- Explains the disadvantages as well as advantages of her breed.
- Handles and socializes her kittens.
- Knows every kitten as an individual.
- Provides and asks for references.
- Doesn't sell “purebred but unregistered” kittens or charge extra for “papers.”
- Makes you prove you're worthy of owning one of her cats!
It's easy to transmit disease and parasites. Never visit two catteries, shelters, or rescuers in a row without going home, showering, and changing clothes, including your shoes.
You'll likely hear the term pet quality, which does not mean inferior quality! Even in a litter from generations of champions, some kittens will have coat or eye color a bit off the standard, ears slightly too small or too big, or shape or proportions that aren't perfect. These technical “faults” have no effect on the cat's value as a companion, and most people won't see them even if the breeder points them out.
A visit to a cat show will lead you to breeders and give you a chance to see lots of cats. Don't expect breeders to spend a lot of time talking to you—remember, they're competing. Ask for business cards from those who interest you, and contact them after the show. Most of all, watch, enjoy, and learn.
Cat magazines feature breeder ads, many of them with stunning photos of gorgeous cats. Be a savvy consumer, and remember that a glitzy ad doesn't make a good breeder or quality cats. Responsible breeders are happy to show you registration papers, health clearances, title certificates, pedigrees, and other paperwork. Beware of anyone who doesn't willingly support claims with proof.
Responsible breeders sell their kittens on contracts that typically include a health guarantee, refund policy, spay/neuter and proper care requirements, and a stipulation that the breeder must have a chance to take the cat if you ever decide you don't want her or can't care for her.
If all this seems intrusive, keep in mind that it is the breeder's responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that the kittens she brings to the world live good lives. If you don't like something in the contract, ask the breeder to explain the thinking behind it—there might be a good reason you haven't considered. If you're still uncomfortable and the terms can't be changed, consider a different breeder.