If you have your heart set on a very specific breed of cat and would like a kitten, you have likely chosen to find a breeder. Your searches may come up with many options… how do you possibly choose? Here are some tips on how to choose a good breeder:
1. They clearly care about and for their cats.
Responsible breeders will know that they are personally responsible for the physical and emotional wellbeing of every cat and kitten in their care. I can’t imagine how a breeder could breed cats without a deep love for them, but it happens. Cats that are kept in close, confined quarters with too many other cats will be stressed, which in turn can lead to poor health. If you are going to purchase a kitten from a breeder, I encourage you to visit the cattery in person to get a sense of how the cats are kept. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much space each cat should have or what their environment should look like, but when talking to the breeder and seeing the cattery, you should be able to get a sense of whether or not the breeder truly cares for his/her animals.
2. The breeder is knowledgeable about the health concerns of the breed and performs testing.
This will require that you first research the the breed you are looking at. You may also notice breeders posting different stats and test results on their site about their cats, and you may want to check that your breeder is doing the same tests.
3. The breeder is willing to talk with you and has a policy of openness and honesty.
Ask questions and listen for answers. You should be able to tell when a breeder knows that he/she is talking about and is willing to share their knowledge with you. If a breeder starts telling you about an issue they have had at their cattery, this isn’t necessarily something to run from. Every breeder will encounter some problem at some time or another – it is the nature of working with animals! If you get the sense the the breeder is trying to hide something from you, is poor at communicating, or is not willing to answer your questions… find someone else.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid someone who does not show the qualities of a good breeder. Ultimately, it is his/her cats and their offspring that are suffering from the poor choices of a bad breeder. If you care about cats and you have respect for the breed of your choice, do not compromise on anything. By buying from a less than reputable breeder, you are allowing them to “stay in business” which is ultimately detrimental to the breed. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- A kitten is being sold for a much lower rates than other kittens of the same breed. Breeding costs money. At the time of writing, good quality pet Bengal kittens are being sold for $1,000 – $2,500. If you see a kitten being offered for $300, do not get excited and do not engage the breeder. This is a sign that the breeder is cutting corners to make sales.
- The breeder does not have a screening process in place. A reputable breeder will very much care about where his/her kittens go. Don’t be offended by lots of questions, this is a good thing!
- The breeder does not offer paperwork for their kittens. You will want to make sure the breeder has a contract that protects both the buyer, seller, and ultimately, the kitten. You should also only buy a kitten who has registered, pedigreed parents and your kitten should come with paperwork to show this. The largest registry is TICA.
- The breeder does not have appropriate housing conditions. I touched on this above, but if you visit and find dirty or crowded conditions, or the cats seem neglected in any way, go somewhere else.
Your kitten is going to be a part of your family for a long time! Make sure you are confident that the kitten you choose has had a good upbringing and has been raised with love. You will also benefit greatly by choosing a breeder that can be a friend and resource to help you along whenever you need it. Support the best and you will receive the best!