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How can I tell if the Breeder or Rescue is reputable?

Rescuers and breeders are human beings so you will find that there are good folk and bad doing both. There are reputable breeders and there are some folk who breed cats but do not value ethical considerations or breed with the ultimate aim of improving the breed. Similarly, there are some Rescues that become "collectors", placing few cats, and others which have poor conditions or misrepresent the cats they offer for sale.

    The reputable breeder is willing to take the time to talk with the prospective purchaser and share information about the breed, cat care and maintenance, both before and after the purchase.

    In the same vein, the reputable rescuer is willing to talk to the prospective buyer and a share information about the cat’s history, if available, about any personality quirks or special care needs, and about cat care and maintenance, both before and after placement.

    The reputable breeder or rescuer will interview the prospective in depth to determine the kind of home the kitten or cat is being offered and will only place the kitten or cat in a home they have approved. In addition, they will query you on your cat care knowledge and experience.

    The reputable breeder will not sell kittens before they are 12 weeks of age and have been vaccinated. Reputable rescue organizations work within more difficult constraints, but try to insure the kittens are protected by at least one vaccination before placement.

    The reputable breeder or rescuer will either place kittens or cats only after they have already been neutered or spayed OR they will contractually require the cat or kitten to be altered by a certain age and will follow up to assure the contract is kept.

    The reputable breeder offers a health guarantee in writing and lists any health defects that may be present, having informed you of them. The purchaser should run – not walk – away from any breeder who refuses to put a health guarantee in writing. There are tremendous variations in these guarantees, but they should at the very least: a) set forth a period of time during which the buyer may take the kitten or cat to his own veterinarian for inspection; b) specify what recourse the buyer has if that inspection should determine an illness or any defect of which the buyer was not forewarned).

    The reputable rescuer may not be aware of defects or health problems, but makes every effort to be honest in evaluating the cat's soundness.

    Other important considerations should be spelled out in clear, unambiguous terms. One such consideration of the reputable breeder or rescuer is the requirement that a cat or kitten not be allowed to roam freely outdoors. Another is the future placement of the cat or kitten should circumstances arise and you are unable to keep the cat in your home.

    If the kitten or cat is being bought from a breeder and shipped, the contract should state who will be responsible for the shipping the cat back to the breeder should the kitten be determined unsuitable on arrival. That contract should also state who will pay for the original airfare/transport cost, the required health certificate, and other associated shipping costs.

    The reputable breeder or rescuer is willing to provide references from people who have previously obtained kittens from them and will give permission to discuss the breeder’s or rescuer’s cats with their veterinarian.

    The reputable breeder or rescuer will help in placing your kitten or cat if in the future circumstances ever arise that preclude your keeping the cat in your home.

Undoubtedly, it would be optimal, if in the best of all possible worlds, to visit the home of the breeder or rescuer. This would allow you to meet and select your kitten or cat, to judge the cleanliness and merits of conditions, and to get a "gut sense" of the person from whom you are obtaining the kitten or cat. If buying from a breeder, it would also be also optimal for you to see the sire and dam of the kittens, as well as other cats. Many reputable breeders and rescues still invite prospective purchasers into their homes. However, some breeders and rescuers, especially those who live alone, may fear becoming victim of crime. Therefore, they may be reluctant to allow any strangers into their home and may arrange to meet elsewhere, such as at their veterinarian’s office, or in the case of a Rescue, at a PetsMart or shopping center location. In addition, when purchasing a kitten from a breeder in another state or at a cat show or having and animal transported from a rescue, this home visit may also not be possible. Therefore, in those cases when you cannot visit the rescue or breeder’s home or are limited to seeing only the kitten or cat, you are advised to ask for references from those that have bought their kittens or cats in the past and/or from their veterinarian.

When it comes to Purebreds, the rarity of a breed will determine the relative ease with which you can find a reputable breeder or rescue of your chosen breed. Obtaining a cat or kitten of one of the rarer breeds may necessitate your name being placed on a waiting list, your paying for it based on only a picture, and your paying airfare to have it shipped from another city or state. On the other hand, if you are searching for a kitten to buy from a breeder of the more popular breeds or for a domestic cat from a rescue, you might find you have the problem of narrowing down from too many choices!

When that home visit is not possible, there are also some resources for those looking to buy a kitten from a reputable breeder. One resource to check is our Cattery Listings on this site, as the catteries listed here have affirmed their support of the principles of reputable breeding and their support of rescues efforts and animal welfare ideals. Another assurance that the kitten is coming from a clean and healthy environment is offered by many of the major pedigree cat registries in the form of their voluntary cattery environment inspection programs. Such programs set specific minimum requirements for aspects of feline husbandry within the home cattery. Some of these programs require an annual inspection by a veterinarian, using a checklist supplied by the registry, who will determine whether the cattery passes the inspection. A telephone call, letter or e-mail to most registries will produce a list of breeders in a given geographic location and whether their cattery has been inspected and approved for accreditation in their cattery inspection program. A query to any of the registries or a check of their web sites will list dates of cat shows in the area, where the breeds can be seen and breeders contacted. For more information, contact the registries. Those registries which can be accessed online include CFA , TICA, ACFA, CCA, TCA.


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The Feline Rescue Network is an all volunteer effort which is organized exclusively for public service, for the benefit of our feline friends, and for educational purposes. This website is designed & maintained by volunteer efforts. This page last updated on February 20, 2001. Designed and © copyrighted 2001 by The Feline Rescue Network

Special thanks to Anna Sadler for her advice and input.