Choosing a Cattery
As a feline expert and behaviorist, as well as being a highly reputable Persian breeder for over 20 years, I feel it important to warn anyone who’d like to purchase a Persian feline to investigate and carefully choose their breeder before they choose their kitten. This is because there are many things to be wary of. Just like puppy mills, there are many catteries and breeders out there who breed their kitties in the same deplorable ways. Before buying a Persian feline, I recommend reading our 10 questions to ask a breeder at the bottom of this page and learn the proper questions to ask a breeder before adopting from them. By doing this you will educate yourself, and be better able to avoid the kitty mill type of breeders, and the sickly kittens they sell.
Since childhood, I have experienced as well as heard of horror stories about bad cat breeders. The inspiration of Lilac Farms manifested from the difficulty we had in our own attempts to find good Persian breeders. Over the years, I have been driven to write a book about the realities of cat breeding. What is the truth? What should we look for and what should we avoid in our quest for a Himalayan or Persian cat breeder? It will be a while before it is finished, but in the meantime, I decided to write a smaller guide to be placed on our website. Here I will give you ten of the most important questions to ask a breeder before purchasing a kitty. In our Feline Healthcare Blog I will be compiling information on each of the ailments I’m about to mention, plus a few more that owners should be aware of. I hope this guide will assist those in quest of a feline so that they will be able to find a healthy well adjusted companion.
You should choose your breeder before choosing your cat! We try to assist all our prospective clients so they won't go through the pain and disappointment that we and many of our clients have gone through in the past. I have learned it is not so much the questions you ask a cat breeder, but how you word those questions. So many breeders will go around the questions and try to dodge the ones they don't want to answer. Personally, I’d take this as a sign of deception and would walk away.
What is a Bad Cat Breeder? Bad cat breeders aren't always bad people. Lack of education, experience & money are usually the root cause of their downfall. Often, these people love cats. They commonly want to breed felines, thinking of it as a fun hobby, a great experience, and an easy way to make money. They soon learn otherwise. Persian/Himalayans have very difficult deliveries. Often the kittens get stuck in the birth canal and suffocate to death. One trip to the Veterinary Hospital for an emergency C-section will cost anywhere between $1,000.00 to $2,000.00. On top of the financial expense, the mother cat usually loses her entire litter in this kind of emergency situation. If the mother’s uterus tares during labor, her life can be lost in the process. Once the C-section has been performed, she will need to be spayed, meaning that she will have no future litters. This is a devastating experience to go through. Vetting is very expensive, but it is a definite requirement for any breeder. Often, people think you can just buy a male and female cat, put them together and let them breed. This isn’t true! A breeder needs to know what their breed's standards are or else they will be breeding bad quality, inferrior, below standard felines. And then there are safety precautions that a catteries and potential breeders need to take before breeding cats. Before a new cat is brought into a cattery or a home with pre-existing felines, it needs to go into a quarantine area away from the pre-existing felines. This is to ensure that the new feline does not pass on any contagious diseases or skin funguses to the pre-existing felines in the household. The new feline needs to be tested for PKD, Feline Leukemia, Feline Panleukopenia, FIV, as well as having skin fungal culture tests for Ringworm. Ringworm is a subject in and of itself and is better explained in our Healthcare blog. Once a feline is cleared of these contagious issues, it can be introduced to the other felines within the home.
Catteries often have unexpected veterinary expenses. Catteries have common ailments, such as upper respiratory infections. To a cattery, these infections are like a severe cold running through a preschool. Take into consideration that veterinary visits and medications aren’t usually covered by a health insurance plan. For instance, if a cattery has 10 cats with an upper respiratory infection the expenditures can add up quickly. Because of this, many breeders try and cut corners and therefore the animals’ health suffers. From my observances if a breeder says they vaccinate their own cats, it is because they either can’t afford to have their animals in the care of a veterinarian or they are trying to save themselves the money. Breeders who say they don’t believe in the rabies shots say so because it is illegal for them to administer, and they can’t give out rabies tags. Hence, I'd personally run from these types of breeders. Most people wouldn’t allow or trust a friend or family member to give them their vaccinations, so what makes a breeder qualified to do the same to your pet? They are not Veterinarians! If a breeder cuts corners here, they are likely to cut corners when it pertains to other health issues their felines may be having. Word of advice: unless you want a cat with health risks, avoid these types breeders.
If you are wanting to purchase either a Persian, Himalayan or an Exotic feline, I recommend learning about the fatal kidney disease, PKD. There is more detailed information about PKD in our Healthcare blog, as well as the ten Questions to ask a Breeder section in this guide.
Ten Questions To Ask a Breeder
(These are the questions to ask your potential breeder)
1) Are the cats in your cattery vaccinated by and seen by a veterinarian? If they say no to either of these questions, or they say they personally vaccinate their own kittens, walk away & find another cat breeder.
2) Have your cats been tested for Feline Leukemia & FIV? If they say no, walk away and find another cat breeder.
3) Were any cats found positive for Feline Leukemia & FIV? If they say yes, walk away and find another cat breeder.
4) Have all of your (foundation) breeding cats been tested for PKD? If they say no, walk away and find another cat breeder.
5) Were any of your cats found positive for PKD? If they say yes, then ask, “Are you breeding any of those cats?” If they say yes, walk away and find another cat breeder.
If a breeder says a cat or kitten has a slight case of PKD, RUN!!! This is like saying the cat has a slight case of terminal cancer! PKD is a terminal disease, usually striking between the ages of 5 to 8 years of age. Healthy indoor cats that are regularly seen by a veterinarian can easily live to be 17 and older. This disease is cutting their life expectancy by more than half. Don't be fooled by thinking breeders who are renowned for their championship lines don’t continue to breed PKD positive cats. I have found they are often the ones who do, hoping to hold onto their championship lines. Through investigation, I've discovered that lilac and chocolate breeders are some of the most notorious for breeding PKD cats because of the rarity of these colors. These breeders are often more concerned about getting the lilac/chocolate coloration than they are passing on the disease.
6) If I purchase a feline and have it tested for PKD & it comes out positive, what recourse do I have? If they say none, walk away and find another breeder.
(PKD is hereditary. Therefore it was caused by a PKD Positive parent. This means they are breeding PKD positive felines. As such, they should exchange the animal or allow you to return it for a refund.)
7) Are you a closed cattery? A closed cattery means the cats in the cattery are not exposed to any cats outside of that cattery. This means they don’t stud their males out to other breeders, and they don’t allow their females to be breed with males outside their own cattery. Most closed catteries won’t even show their cats in competitions. Closed catteries would love to have their cats championed. However, they won’t risk their felines’ health. It is very important to know if the cattery is open or closed. There are many infectious diseases and skin funguses passed between felines. Feline Leukemia, FIV, and Ringworm are just a few to mention. The only protection one has of purchasing a cat or kitten that has not been exposed to these contagious diseases and skin funguses is by purchasing them through a closed cattery. I personally would prefer to purchase though a closed cattery. However, if I didn’t have this option, I’d quarantine the new cat for at least two months out of fear of ringworm. Then I’d have my veterinarian do a skin scraping and test it for ringworm before allowing any other other animals in my home to interact with it.
8) Has your cattery been treated for ringworm within the last year? If the answer is yes, then you will need to read the information below to make your own decision as to what you should do.
RINGWORM! It is not a worm. It is a skin fungus that spreads easily to both animals and humans. That is to say that it is zoonotic. Many cats in the show world have it. It is spread very quickly & effortlessly. Once you have it in your household, not only do you have to treat your cats and check yourself for it (yes, humans get it too), but you must sanitize the environment that you and the cats live in. Ringworm spores are connected to the hair follicles and skin dander. They fall off the animal and drop or float wherever they land. Ringworm spores can lie dormant for up to a year before finding a new host. Therefore, it can run into a cycle. You may clear it up and think you’re rid of it and a few months later get re-infected. Thus, ringworm is disastrous and extremely difficult to get rid of. If a breeder says he or she doesn’t have it in his/her cattery, yet treats all of the cats for it, run! They have it. There are 2 ways to treat your cat once it has been diagnosed. The first and most effective is by weekly sulfur dips, which smell like rotten eggs and it stain everything yellow, including the cat’s fur. The 2nd is by an oral medication that can result in negative side effects on the animal’s health. There is more detailed information about Ringworm and how to properly treat it in our Healthcare Blog.
9) What age do you allow your kittens to leave their mothers? Kittens should not leave their mothers before 12 weeks of age. If a breeder says any younger than 12 weeks of age, then walk away and find another breeder. (The better catteries allow their kittens to leave between 14 to 18 weeks of age. If a breeder is letting the kittens leave before 12 weeks then he or she is not allowing the kittens to properly grow and develop. Therefore, that breeder is probably not caring for those cats properly, either.)
10) Are your cats caged? Cats do not belong in cages. The only time they should be caged is if they need to be separated from the other cats due to illness. Cats are free roaming animals that need exercise and mental stimulation. Cats that are caged lose their muscle tone and ability to move properly. Eventually, they become mentally frustrated and exhibit behavior problems. Some of these behaviors are not using their litter box, constant meowing, scratching, or biting, being too rough with humans, extreme fear, etc. Kittens often copy the behavior of the older cats. Copy Cat was termed as such because cats copy each other. Therefore, if the adult felines exhibit this behavior, the behavior will become imprinted on the kittens who are being raised by and around them.
Never purchase from a breeder that makes you feel strange about asking these questions. These are legitimate questions that all prospective clients should ask. If a breeder makes you feel uncomfortable about asking them, then he or she probably has something to hide.