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Choosing a Breeder

Finding a pedigree kitten:

Many Breed clubs now have their own web sites, and you may be able to email directly from the club web site, and request the club secretary to provide you with information of breeders with kittens available or litters expected. Most probably, they will have a kitten list displayed on their site, just like justfelineshmm - kitten page

Alternatively, you could purchase a cat magazine from a newsagent's and check breeders' adverts for kittens available. Many breeders advertise in the local press.

If, after reading books and magazine articles, you are still not sure which breed you want, a cat show could be the place to visit. Here you will see lots of different breeds and the different colours and patterns which exist. Kittens are not sold at a show, but you will be able to talk to the owners and breeders about their chosen breed's characteristics and temperament.

Keep well clear of pet shops and dealers, no breeder who cares about their kittens will sell through a third party. The GCCF recommends that the breeders should not sell to pet shop or sell to anyone whole litters.

Question to ask the breeders:

Once you have found a breeder, telephone them and discuss the availability of kittens. They should be able to tell you what kittens they have available, and the quality of the kittens. Pedigree kittens normally fall into one of three categories.

Show Quality

A show quality pedigree kitten, is normally the most expensive to buy, due to the fact their breeder consider them outstanding examples of the breed, based on a standard of points, and anticipate that they will compete well at shows. If you wish to buy a show quality kitten, consider buying from a breeder with a proven track show record.

Breed Quality

A breed quality pedigree kitten, is a kitten that fails to meet the show standard in some small way, yet they possess enough good qualities to keep the breed standard up. Breed quality kittens may sell for slightly less than show quality kittens.

Pet Quality

A pet quality pedigree kitten is usually the cheapest, it may be faultless but on the other hand they may have some minor flaw, that makes them unsuitable for showing or breeding. Pet quality kittens usually make excellent pets and companions.

Many breeders will only sell male kittens to pet homes or as show neuters, because they do not wish them to be used as Stud cats.

When making enquires regarding a kitten, be honest about what you are looking for. If you think that you may wish to breed from your kitten at a later date, or may wish to show it, say so. Pet quality kittens are registered on the non active list, therefore you will not be able to register the cats progeny - i.e. kittens.

Reputable breeders will not sell kittens under 13 weeks of age, which is in line with GCCF recommendations . CA specify a minimum of 12 weeks of age. This is because both organisations recommend that kittens are fully vaccinated against FIE (Feline Infectious Enteritis) and 'cat flu', before they leave their breeder.

The temperament of the kitten and its suitability to your lifestyle, is very important. If your circumstances mean that you are away from home a lot, it maybe best to consider two kittens who will keep each other company.

Both male and female kittens make excellent pets when neutered, and neutering should done around 4-6 months of age. A few breeders will have their pet kittens neutered before they sell them.

Do ask if the kitten is litter trained, and what type of litter has been used, as sudden changes in a kitten's environment may upset your kitten's toileting habits.

Some pedigree cats like Persians require a lot of commitment from their owners. Ask the breeder how much grooming is required for the kitten.

You should not purchase a kitten that has not yet received its vaccinations. When picking up your kitten, you should be provided with a certificate of vaccination signed by a vet.

Many pet insurance companies now offer breeders a 'free' six weeks insurance period. Moving to a new home is a very stressful period for a young kitten, and so insurance is always welcome to overcome any problems within that period.

Is the kitten registered

Most reputable breeders will register their kittens with either the GCCF or the CA. This will prove to you that the kitten's sire (father) and dam (mother) are registered cats. If either parents are not registered, then the kitten would not be, and this could well mean you are dealing with a 'back street breeder', who has obtained pet quality cats and is breeding them for profit. These breeders normally do not have their cats and kittens welfare at the forefront.

After asking the breeder questions on the above points, the next stage is to visit the breeder at home to view kittens. Potential buyers should always see kittens in their home environment. When viewing kittens, don't be alarmed or upset if a breeder asks you to disinfect your hands before touching the kitten, it is for the kitten's protection and is a perfectly acceptable and responsible practice. Never visit different breeders on the same day, it is highly irresponsible as you could pass on infections from one litter of kittens to another. The last thing anyone wants, is litters of kittens becoming ill.

Ask the breeder if it is possible to see the sire and dam of the kitten. Breeders often use Stud cats owned by other breeders, so do not be suspicious if this is the case, and the male is not on the premises. The mother should be available to be seen, and the breeder should have no hesitation in showing her to you. If the Queen has reared a large litter, she may not look in the best condition, some queens will put all their energy into feeding their kittens and become very thin in the process despite being fed an excellent diet. Longhaired queens may have had their coats trimmed, at least underneath. Apart from this the queen, like the kittens, should look clean and healthy.

View the whole litter, as this will allow you to see how socialised and healthy they are.

Ask to handle the kitten. Is the kitten in good health and in good condition ? It should have bright, clear eyes and an alert personality. The size and weight will vary between breeds, but the kitten should feel solid and well covered. A healthy kitten should not sneeze or show mucous discharge from its eyes and nose. The ears should be clean and free of wax. The anus should be clean and not show any signs of diarrhoea. The coat should be clean and not show any signs of parasite infection i.e. fleas. To inspect the kitten for fleas, check in the coat for grains of black dirt, which could be flea excrement. Beware of any open lesions with scabby patches on the skin, this could indicate that the kitten has ringworm.

Ask the breeder if their cats are free of Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Responsible breeders will have had their cats tested for these diseases, and will be able to assure you that your new kitten will test negative also.

Breed-related problems If you are buying a Persian or Exotic Shorthair kitten, ask if both parents have been screened for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). This hereditary disease can lead to an early death from kidney failure, so it is sensible to seek a kitten whose parents have been tested and cleared.

Worming - It is important that cats and especially young kittens are wormed on a regular basis.

Pedigree - this is a record of its ancestors. It should show the names of the kitten's parents, grand parents, great grand parents and great great grand parents, together with all their breed numbers and registration numbers. Ask if the kitten is registered or is able to be registered. If either parent is registered on the Non-Active Register with GCCF or is endorsed 'not for breeding' with CA, the kitten cannot be registered with either organisation. This is particularly important if you are planning to buy a kitten for showing or breeding. If you are planning to show or breed, you will need to check that the pedigree is acceptable for this, some matings will produce kittens which make excellent pets, and which may be acceptable for breeding, but cannot be shown - these are often known as 'variants', such as the shorthaired kittens from a cross between Cornish Rex and their allowable outcrosses.

Vaccination certificate - the kitten should have received two doses of vaccine, usually with a 2-3 week interval in between. The kitten should be vaccinated against FIE (feline infectious enteritis) and 'cat 'flu' as a minimum requirement. Many breeders also vaccinate against feline leukaemia as well.

Ask the breeder to point out any faults kittens might have. For example, it may have an incorrect dental alignment, or maybe a male has only one testicle. Ask the breeder what effects these faults might have, and if veterinary intervention may be needed. If you wish to show your kitten, ask if there are any faults which preclude this. For instance, a tail kink is no problem at all in a pet kitten, but is not acceptable in a show cat.

Diet - ask the breeder what foods the kittens have been fed, as sudden changes in diet can lead to upsets.

Don't feel rushed to make a decision. Most breeders will be happy for you to go away and think about the kitten, some will even insist on this. After all, a good breeder wants only the best homes for their kittens.

If you do not think the kitten is what you are looking for, do not hesitate to tell the breeder. The breeder will then know the kitten is still available for sale and be able to let others view. On the other hand, if you do want the kitten, make sure that the breeder is prepared to reserve it for you, if it is not ready to leave home. Some breeders ask for a small deposit, proving a written receipt.

Day of collection - when you collect your new kitten, you should make sure you have a suitable cat carrier. Please do not carry the kitten unsecured and never ever drive with a cat loose in the car. You should have all accessories ready at home - food supplies, feeding bowl, water bowl, bed, litter, litter tray, grooming equipment etc.

Kitten's paperwork should include - Registration/transfer slip which you and the breeder complete to transfer the kitten into your official ownership
Hard copy of the kittens pedigree
If GCCF registered, a copy of the Code of Ethics.
Vaccination certificate.
Insurance certificate if the kitten is insured.
Diet sheet outlining the kitten's care and dietary requirements. The breeder may ask you to sign an agreement to ensure that the kitten is neutered.
Receipt for payment in full. It is strongly recommended that you have the kitten checked by your own vet within 48 hours of purchase.
If, for any reason, you have to part with your kitten, please contact the breeder before doing so. Many breeders will take the kitten/cat back at any age, or if this is impossible, help to find a suitable home. Some breeders insist that anyone who buys one of their kittens, sign an agreement that if the owner has to part with the kitten/cat in the future, the owner will contact the breeder first.

Web site maintained by Carole Gwyther

Backgrounds and graphics Carole Gwyther - background kitten Myskanco Alonso, Cornish Rex male.