Choosing a Breeder
Once you have made the decision to adopt a pedigree cat, your search begins to find your kitty. Google, CFA, TICA and FBRL (Fanciers Breeder Referral List) are good places to search for breeders and will likely result in a number of listings. Keep in mind that some breeders may be reputable and some may be “backyard breeders” and breed for the purpose of selling pets.
What is a reputable breeder?
A reputable breeder is passionate and knowledgeable about the breed of cat they have chosen to breed. Their cattery is registered with cat association(s) such as CFA and TICA. They have a breeding program and do matings with the goal to produce kittens which meet the written breed standard. Cats which closely meet the breed standard compete in sanctioned shows.
Reputable breeders test for genetic diseases and have a health guarantee which is part of the contract between the breeder and adopter.
Reputable breeders carefully screen adopters to make sure the kitty will be housed, fed and taken care of properly.
Reputable breeders encourage adopters to stay in touch and report any problems, as well as growth and development of the kitty.
Reputable breeders do not breed to make a profit.
What is a breeding program?
A breeding program is designed to improve the traits as specified in the breed standard. Traits include conformation, structure and color (type), temperament, personality, and genetic diversity. This takes much planning and decision making involving which kittens to keep and which pairings to make to continually strive to produce high quality kittens. A breeding program also incorporates outcross (unrelated) cats to increase genetic diversity. Outcrosses may result in kittens with traits which are not show worthy but can still be used in the program with great results several generations later. Good breeding programs also involve collaboration with other breeders to share cats to improve each other’s programs.
Why is Showing Important?
The objective of show cat breeders is to preserve cat breeds, contribute to the advancement of the breed by producing cats that are healthy in mind and body and are as close as possible to the written breed standard. By participating in shows, their cats are judged against the standard and cats which closely meet the standard are awarded titles, such as Champion and Grand Champion. Show cats can also earn regional and national awards.
Show vs. Pet Kitten or Cat
The difference between a show kitten and pet kitten is the degree to which each meets the standard for the breed. A show quality kitty is an outstanding example of the breed and meets the breed standard closely. A pet quality kitty may have a minor cosmetic flaw (or fault).
Kittens with qualities closest to the standard are shown, earn titles and become part of the breeding program. Kittens which have cosmetic flaws or are not as “typey” are considered pet quality. Though, as mentioned previously, non-typey kittens may possess traits valuable to the breeding program.