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Your Choices - Obtaining your Cat

So you have decided to add a cat or kitten to your household? Now there are some other decisions to make!

Pedigreed or Domestic? Do roam the web and spend lots of time learning about Cats, including, if your are interested in a Purebred, researching any Breeds you may have an interest in to ascertain the basic personality type and care requirements of that breed. The information you obtain will help ensure that the new feline family member will be an exact fit with your familyís expectations and desires. "Grandma's Best Advice" on choosing a cat or kitten will have been heeded.

You need also to decide WHERE you want to obtain the cat or kitten. Whether you should buy a purebred kitten or cat from a breeder, or a cat from a rescue, a shelter, or a pet store. This is a decision not to be taken lightly since the quality of your life and that of the cat is at stake. It is strongly advised that you don't you don't simply buy on impulse, too many people wind up unhappy with their choice and the animals suffer for it when they are selected on impulse. It is also strongly advised that you do NOT let yourself be emotionally blackmailed into selecting a shelter or rescue cat by animal rights propaganda. While there are some good reasons for choosing any of the sources mentioned, emotional blackmail is never a good reason for a decision and a very poor basis on which to base a relationship. Here is information to help you weigh out the pros and cons of each option and help you make an informed choice!

Here are the most common options and the pros and cons of each:

Hopefully with careful consideration to what is important to you and your individual needs, you can now choose a cat or kitten from the source that is best for you and the cat!


     

     

    Buying from a REPUTABLE BREEDER
    The Pros
    and Cons

      PROs:

        INFORMATION AND RESOURCE: Buying from a Breeder offers you the opportunity to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the particular breed and bloodline and its characteristics & personality. A breeder will make sure you are aware of the care that the cat will need. In addition, reputable breeders offer you a resource for advice if at any time there is a problem with your pet or a question. 

        You and your vet can get information on the health history of kittens or cat

        KITTENS:  Kittens of 12 weeks of age or older may be available.

        COST:  A cat of a recognized breed generally costs considerably less from a Breeder than from a Pet Store.

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT:  Kittens have been fully socialized to people and to other kittens & momcat. 

        In addition, if you might be able to visit the breederís home, and you may have the opportunity to meet the parents of the cat/kitten and see what they look like and how they socialize Ė temperament does tend to have inherited components. NOTE: Please do NOT visit one breeder or rescue after another without returning home to change and shower, as you may help transmit germs which may effect the kittens.

         REFERENCES:  You can ask the breeder for references from people who have previously purchased kittens or can ask permission to discuss the breederís cats with his or her veterinarian.  

        PERKS:  Sometimes you will find that perks are offered by breeder: Some breeders offer kittens that are already neutered/spayed*. Others offer kittens that are already microchipped for identification to assure return home if they are lost and then found by a rescuer or animal control agency. You may also find that some offer kittens with veterinary insurance.

        *Early spay/neuter has not been shown to do harm to kittens at all. In fact, kittens bounce back much more quickly from the surgery than do cats.

         CONTRACT:  There is a written contract (which protects both you and the breeder)

         HEALTH WARRANTEE:   To protect you and the kitten, the reputable breeder offers a health warrantee. Any living being may become ill. Despite being born into circumstances aimed at providing an optimal environment and use of the best genetic screening techniques available to identify mutations that can occur in any cat, some kittens may have inherited conditions or become ill after you bring them home. A health warrantee offers a level of protection.

        SAFETY NET:  Reputable breeders will help with placing the cat if, at some future time, circumstances force you to have to part with the cat.

      CONs:

         COST:  A kitten or cat may well cost more money than a shelter or rescue cat or kitten, though generally less than a pet store.

        AVAILABILITY & ACCESS:  You may have to wait until the right kitten or cat is available. With the rarer breeds, you may have to travel to get to the closest Breeder or may have to have the animal transported to you if that breeder does ship. 

         SCREENING PROCESS:  The process may take some time. You will have to answer many questions about your knowledge of cat care and be willing to learn. You will also be asked many questions about the home you offer, and there is a chance you may not be approved for purchase of a kitten. Reputable breeders do screen buyers as they care about the quality of the home they are placing their beloved kittens in. If you donít like answering a lot of questions about yourself and your home, you may count this against buying from a breeder. However, this process is beneficial as this "screening" actually helps them ensure that the new feline family member will be an exact fit with your familyís expectations and desires.

        If you are looking for a cat as a pet to breed "just for one litter" or if you havenít shown you know the responsibilities entailed in breeding and shown you can live up to those responsibilities, youíre out of luck. Reputable breeders value the enormous amount of time, effort, and caring that has gone into developing their respective breed over the years, as well as having invested sweat and tears of their own in developing their lines. As a result, only a person that has shown that they might have the same intense dedication to the breed and sense of responsibility will be considered as a suitable placement for a breeder or show quality kitten/cat. Only breeder or show quality cats are sold with an open registration, which will allow that cat to be bred; all others must be neutered or spayed.

    Buying from a REPUTABLE RESCUER:
    The Pros and Cons

    PROs:

        SATISFACTION OF "GOOD DEED":  Buying from a reputable Rescue offers the satisfaction of providing a home for a homeless cat and, in some cases, potentially helping them to save a life, especially in the case of special needs cats. Occasionally, however,  a Rescue is doing rescue only for the money available from sales or donations and a few other Rescues have become "collectors" with far too many cats, so do make sure the Rescue is reputable. (See "How can I Tell if a Breeder or Rescue is a Reputable One?"). Buying from such a rescue only facilitates further neglect on their part.

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT:  Cats that are bought from reputable rescues often have been bonded to people in their lives (their owners had to relinquish them for whatever reason) and may bond well with new owners and become very faithful to them. In those cases where the rescued cat has previously acquired a known problematic attitude or behavior, reputable Rescues work with the animal to correct these problems before placement or will forewarn you of known potential problems.

        Reputable rescues watch their cats carefully to determine their readiness to be placed as a pet in a new home and attempt to find the best home to match up the catís individual needs and those of the buyer.

          INFORMATION AND RESOURCE:  Generally all reputable cat rescuers will provide you with cat care information and respond to any questions that arise. In addition, many purebred rescuers, many of whom are or have been breeders, provide the opportunity to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the particular breed and its characteristics and will make sure you are aware of the care needed by that breed.

        HEALTH:  The cat is already vet checked, including testing for FELV and FIV, and has been vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

         REFERENCES:   When asked, the rescuer will willingly provide references from people who have previously purchased kittens or permission to discuss the rescueís cats with their veterinarian.

        COST:  There are purebred rescuers of various breeds, most of whom are expert at identifying cats of that breed, which allows you the opportunity to have a purebred adult cat at less cost than a purebred kitten from a breeder. Often reputable rescue organizations, with no fixed overhead, only try to recoup all or a portion of the rescued cat's veterinary work-up.

          CONTRACT:  There is a written contract

        SAFETY NET:  Reputable Rescues will help with placing the cat if at some future time circumstances force you to have to part with the cat.

      CONs:

        KITTENS & CHOICES:  There are very rarely purebred kittens available. With the exception of kittens from feral/unowned randombred cats that are abundant in spring and summers, usually cats, and not kittens, are available. The advent of successful stray spay/neuter programs is reducing this source of kittens, as well. You may not have a full choice of color, sex, and age.

        Less than 1% of all cats entering shelters are purebred (1). Therefore, the likelihood is high that there will be a waiting list for your chosen breed if you want a purebred, and that with the rarer breeds a cat might never become available through rescue.

        ADJUSTMENT:  Most are older cats who have been through at least two displacements from their homes before they arrive in your home and may take some time to adjust.

        ACCESS:  You may have to travel to get to the closest rescue or may have to have the animal transported to you if that rescue does ship.

         SCREENING PROCESS:  The process may take some time. You will have to answer many questions about your knowledge of cat care and be willing to learn. You will also be asked many questions about the home you offer, and there is a chance you may not be approved for purchase of a kitten. Reputable Rescues do screen potential buyers as they care about the quality of the home where they are placing cats. If you donít like answering a lot of questions about yourself and your home, you may count this against buying from a reputable rescuer. However, this process is beneficial ad this "screening" actually helps them ensure that the new feline family member will be an exact fit with your familyís expectations and desires.

    Buying from a SHELTER:
    The Pros and Cons

      PROs:

        SATISFACTION OF " GOOD DEED":   Buying from a shelter offers the satisfaction of giving a homeless cat a home and possibly saving the catís life. Many shelters cannot keep animals very long and have major space limitations.

        COST:  The cost may be lower than other sources. Fees may vary from one shelter or rescue organization to another, so some comparison shopping might be in order if cost is a major concern. City or county operated shelters are funded by tax dollars, so fees will usually be even less than from private humane organizations.

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT:  A family can see the adult cat's appearance and temperament to try to gage how it will fit into their family, and the more active and potentially destructive kitten stage is avoided.

        AVAILABILITY & ACCESS:  A variety of domestic cats and kittens may be available depending on the time of year. There is generally one in your local area without much traveling.

      CONs:

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT & HEALTH: You never know what you may be getting from most shelters.
                   a) There is a greater likelihood that some cats may be ill and it
                       may not be obvious until later
                   b) Some may lack socialization or have personality quirks.

        AVAILABILITY:  If you are looking for a purebred, it is quite unlikely you will find one, though many shelters will err on the side of calling any cat that may have some characteristics also found on purebreds a "purebred or mix" as then they are easier to place.

        ADJUSTMENT:  Many are older cats who have been through at least two displacements from their homes and may take significant time to adjust.

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT:  The environment is not optimal for maintaining cats or raising kittens. Kittens can not be properly socialized while being kept in cages and only being handled by prospective buyers and the shelter personal. There is often increased risk of exposure to germs for which kittens have no immunity built up due the cats and kittens coming from varied sources and being stressed by the circumstances.

         SCREENING PROCESS:  The amount of time the process takes varies greatly from one shelter to another and may be minimal. Humane Societies, more often than publicly owned shelters, do more carefully screen potential buyers as they care about the quality of the home where they are placing cats. These Humane Societies ask many questions about the quality of the pet home you offer and some may require that you show proof of ownership of your home. So, there is a chance you may not be approved for purchase of a kitten or cat. If you donít like answering questions about yourself and your home or having to prove your home ownership, you may count this against buying from a Humane Society. However, this process may be beneficial as this "screening" actually helps them ensure that the new feline family member will be a welcome and permanent addition to your family.

    Buying from a PET STORE:
    The Pros and Cons

    PROs:

        ACCESS AND AVAILABILITY: Convenient to browse over a few different cats/kittens. There is generally one in your local area without much traveling. Some pedigree animals are available. Kittens may be available.

        HEALTH WARRANTEE:  Pet stores may provide a limited warrantee of health in writing.

         NO SCREENING PROCESS:  Most generally ask no questions except "How do you want to pay for the kitten?" This may seem a pro since it's less hassle at the time of purchase, though the "screening process" that reputable breeders and rescuers insist on actually helps them ensure that the new feline family member will be an exact fit with your familyís expectations and desires. 

      Cons:

        COST:  Prices must reflect store overheads, thus will often be considerably higher than kittens from other sources.

        IMPULSE BUYING:  Pet stores displays of kittens encourages rash decisions without thinking about the responsibilities entailed and alternatives.

        HEALTH:  Kittens may be sold at very young ages without adequate vaccinations having been administered to protect them from illness when exposed. There is often increased risk of exposure to germs for which kittens have no immunity built up due the cats and kittens coming from varied sources and being stressed by the circumstances.

        SOCIALIZATION & TEMPERAMENT:   Most cats and kittens for as sale at pet stores come from commercial breeding facilities. While commercial breeders may have scrupulously clean operations, with adequate veterinary care and food, there much is more involved in rearing a healthy, well-socialized, quality cat than just those factors. [Reputable breeders DO NOT sell to pet stores and instead choose to sell their kittens directly so that they can exercise more discretion in deciding the type of home environment that their kittens will be going to.]

        The pet store environment is not optimal for maintaining cats or kittens. Kittens can not be properly socialized while being kept in cages and only being handled by prospective buyers and the storeís animal maintenance personal. 

        INFORMATION AND RESOURCE:  Purchasing from a pet shop deprives the buyer of the one-on-one relationship with the kittenís breeder, the very person most familiar with all the nuances and facets of the particular breed and a resource for advice on care for years to come. Most salespeople at pet stores are not knowledgeable about various breeds or cat care and cannot or do not teach new owners about these.

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