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
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,