Bringing a new pedigreed kitten into your home can be lots of fun and a very rewarding commitment.
The first step is to research which breed will slot in well with your family and lifestyle. With this decision made, the focus is then on finding a reputable breeder.
Fortunately, there are lots of wonderful resources to make it all effortless and fun.
So consider your first homework assignment preparing for the Perfect Match Kitten Test. It’s rather like creating your own profile for a dating service and outlining what qualities you are looking for in a mate.
This task serves a dual purpose because it will also help prepare you for The Breeder Interview – questions a reputable breeder will ultimately ask you as a prospective buyer.
“Beware of a breeder who doesn’t ask questions about the buyer’s home environment,” says Allene Tartaglia, secretary of the Cat Fanciers Association, CFA, the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats.
“Reputable breeders treat their kittens like children and they want to know in what type of home and with whom the kitten will be living.”
So start with a list of what personality traits you would enjoy in a new companion and be honest in your answers. Remember, this is a long-term commitment!
- •Would you enjoyment the chatty companionship of a cat that’s very vocal?
- •Do you want a cat that enjoys being cuddled and held a lot?
- •Are you looking for a lively, very active personality? (All kittens are lively but some are bundles of real high energy!)
- •Contrary to widespread opinion that cats are independent creatures, they are very fond of company. Are you looking for the type of cat that will greet you at the front door and follow you around the house?
Next, establish who is the Head of the Department of Family Feline Affairs as this is the person ultimately responsible for the kitten. Never designate a child who is keen to have a pet. Children cannot be responsible for visits to the veterinarian, keeping track of medical records and vaccinations. And as much as child may profess to taking care of a kitten’s grooming needs, in reality, the novelty of this task often wears off.
Also outline how much time the designated person has to devote to a kitten. This is particularly important when considering a longhaired or shorthaired cat, as some breeds require more time-consuming grooming than others. A reputable breeder will consider your answers very carefully when deciding whether you will be a responsible kitten owner.
Finally, think about the temperament of the breed of your choice and gauge how accepting other pets in the household will be of a new addition? This is crucial because so many new pets are given up for adoption because the animal menagerie couldn’t gel together.
The Internet is a wonderful resource to learn about the personality traits of different breeds. There are also many books that outline the various traits of the individual breeds as well as informative magazines like Cat Fancy.
Once you’ve done all this homework and feel confident you can answer any questions asked, you will be well prepared to find the breeder who will introduce you to your new companion.
“ I do a lot of out-of-state kitten placements and I rely heavily on the questions asked and information gleaned from emails and phone calls,” says Patricia Chapman, who breeds Turkish Vans at her Caravan Serai Cattery in San Antonio, Texas. “ So I expect potential kitten owners to have a comprehensive list of questions. This helps me establish a relationship that could ultimately lead to a kitten placement.”
Unless you know a kitten owner who can introduce you to a particular breeder, cat shows are a very good place to start. However, remember there’s a lot happening at such an event and chatting to potential kitten owners is not on the calendar of events. So take details and ask if you can follow up afterwards.
“It’s very important to find out how long someone has been breeding a particular breed and enquire how many litters they raise in a year,” says Cyndy Byrd who breeds British Shorthairs at her Chelsea Rose Cattery in Brea, California. “It’s also important to establish at what age a kitten is allowed to go to its new home. It should be between 12 and 16 weeks.”
According to Chapman, a reputable breeder is always concerned about promoting and preserving their breed.
“I usually pre-register my litters with either TICA (The International Cat Association) or the CFA (The Cat Fanciers Association). Consequently, should a buyer decide they want to breed or show their kitten in the future, I have already absorbed the expense and all they have to do is name the kitten.”
Health issues should be a primary concern for a new kitten owner and a trustworthy breeder will be forthcoming as to whether the kitten’s parents have been screened for diseases such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy HCM, (a heart disease where areas of heart muscle enlarge and thicken) by a feline cardiologist.
Further, it’s essential for a prospective kitten owner to know whether the queen and the litter have had proper veterinary care and have had all necessary vaccinations.
Chapman also says that a breeder should be willing to provide a reference from the veterinarian concerned.
“The contractual rights and responsibilities of both the buyer and the breeder should be documented in a written contract,” warns Tartaglia. “A clear contract should provide the buyer with legal recourse if the breeder has been unethical.
“Apart from clauses that outline what type of health guarantee the breeder is prepared to provide, it should also include neuter/spay requirements.”
Phyllis Kennedy of the Terracoon Cattery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who breeds Main Coons, suggests that wherever possible, a buyer should visit the cattery.
“Let your eyes and nose be your best judge,” says Kennedy. “ If you see or smell unpleasant things, or if a breeder is hesitant or unwilling to show you where the queen and kittens live, consider it a red flag.
“Be especially careful if you have traveled hours for a kitten that has been promised to you and are presented with a contract at the last minute. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed reading or signing of anything. Buyer beware!”
When it comes to the temperament of a kitten, apart from inherent breed characteristics, seeing the kitten in its birth environment will say a lot about how the kitten has been socialized.
“That’s why it’s important to play with the kittens and adults to see if they are friendly,” explains Kennedy.
“ If kittens are not handled enough from birth, or have been raised in a cage instead of underfoot, they will be frightened when brought to the living room to be shown off and run for cover. It is easy to tell when a kitten is uncomfortable when a stranger tries to hold it. Use good judgment and observe any warning signs.
“Maine Coons for example, are known to be gentle giants; friendly, curious and confident. I tell people they are the Golden Retrievers of the cat family. They follow you around like a dog and want to be near you. Some of them even fetch just like a dog, or sit up and beg for treats. They like to play in water, and they generally trill, rather than meow. These are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the breed So you would expect a Main Coon kitten to show off these traits.”
Another helpful hint to evaluate a breeder is to check if the cattery has membership of a specific breed club or designations such as CFA Cattery of Excellence or TICA Outstanding Cattery. The breeder will have had to comply with a particular code of ethics or will have undergone a stringent evaluation in order to get a particular title.
Such designations make it very easy for a prospective kitten owner to confirm information by simply contacting the organization concerned.
Tartaglia has the final word. “ I always tell potential purchasers they need to feel comfortable with the breeder they are buying a kitten from as this is the person they will most likely contact with any questions in the future.”
This article is from Kittens USA