How to Find Your Dream Kitten!

The adoption of a purebred kitten/cat can be an exciting adventure. Before you make that final decision, however, keep in mind that having a pet is not something to enter into lightly. Consider your decision carefully so your relationship with your new friend can be as fulfilling and happy as possible.

Take the time to research the different breeds. Each breed has specific personality traits and care requirements that you should know about before you adopt a cat. Examine your lifestyle and expectations. Learn about all the different breeds -- read magazines, such as "Cat Fancy" or "Cats USA"; attend several cat shows; and, talk to as many different breeders as possible.

Once you have found a breed that captures your heart, your first impulse may be to check your local pet store. While you may find purebred kittens for sale there, most professional breeders will not sell kittens to pet stores. Your best bet is to adopt directly from a reputable breeder. You will know the person who bred the kitten, know about the kitten's parents, have complete health information and proper registration forms, and have a true evaluation of the kitten's quality. Equally as important, when you adopt from a breeder, you have someone to call for advise or for answers to your questions.

Finding the right breeder can be as time consuming and frustrating as finding the right breed of cat. Contact some of the breeders you've talked to at shows, from the "Directory of Breeders" provided in the various magazines, or from one of the numerous breeder referral lists available on the internet. Be patient! Most reputable breeders usually have waiting lists, but the wait will pay off with a healthy, loving cat/kitten. Remember when you adopt an indoor cat, you're making a commitment to that animal for the next 15 to 20 years.

Screen the potential breeders thoroughly. Since you will be investing in thebreeder's knowledge, you need to be confident that the breeder you finally select will be there to assist you with your questions for years to come.

Some Questions You Might Ask Potential Breeders

~ What is the personality of the breed? In general, what is its activity level?
~ How much grooming is required to keep the cat in top shape?
~ Do any genetic problems affect the breed?
~ Does the breed have any special dietary requirements?
~ How big do cats of the breed usually get?
~ How does the breed get along with other pets and/or children?
~ What is contained in the breeder's contract?
~ Is the kitten's health guaranteed?

Signs of a Reputable Breeder

~ A reputable breeder is someone who devotes his or her time to the protection, promotion and preservation of a particular breed of cat.
~ The breeder requires that kittens placed as pets be spayed or neutered, or are already altered when you get it.
~ The breeder requires you to sign a contract that spells out your rights as a buyer as well as what is required of you as an owner.
~ The breeder provides a written health guarantee.
~ The breeder explains the breed's personality and care requirements.
~ The breeder participates in a cattery inspection program as described below.
~ The breeder is active in the cat fancy by participating in cat clubs and/or shows.
~ The breeder spends time talking to you but does not try to push a kitten on you.
~ The breeder is willing to provide references of others who have purchased kittens so you can check the reputation of the breeder.
~ The breeder regularly tests its breeding stock for genetic defects (i.e., hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, patellar luxation, etc.).

Reputable breeders want their kittens to go to homes where the kitten and the new owner are happy with each other. For example, If you are looking for a quiet cat and you talk to a Siamese breeder, he or she should tell you that the breed is not for you. The breeder will also ask you how much time you have to dedicate to your new cat. While a perfectly groomed Persian is a delight to behold, if you don't have the time to comb your Persian daily, your beautiful cat will soon be covered with mats and then neither one of you will be happy.

As part of their commitment to purebred cats, reputable breeders are involved in the cat fancy. That is, they show their cats to compare how well their breeding program is meeting the standard for their particular breed. Additionally, breeders meet at shows to discuss health protocols pertaining to multi-cat households and current information on diseases, vaccines and genetics.

Breeders form a special bond with the kittens they have bred and will love the cat no matter where it lives. Some exhibitors may be willing to place kittens at the show, but most will only bring pictures of their kittens for prospective owners to see. They do this to allow themselves time to check with your veterinarian or even visit your home before sending their precious kitten to live with you. Please remember, for as many questions as you may have for the breeder, a reputable breeder may have just as many questions to ask you.

Questions A Breeder May Ask You!

~ How many cats do you have and how do you care for them?
~ If your previous cat died recently, what was the cause of death?
~ Do you have children or other pets?
~ Are you out of the house during the day
~ What is your lifestyle? Do you prefer quiet or do you enjoy activity?
~ Are you physically capable of caring for a cat?
~ Do you understand that you will have to sign a contract in order to adopt the kitten?
~ Do you realize that a pet-quality kitten will have been or will be spayed or neutered and never used for breeding?
~ Are you prepared to keep the cat strictly indoors?
~ Will you be willing to complete a questionnaire about your intent on purchasing a purebred kitten?
~ Finally, the breeder may ask to call your veterinarian to ask for a recommendation of you as a cat owner.

In Conclusion, reputable breeders want to place their kittens in good homes. They want to be certain their pet-quality kittens are spayed or neutered. The breeder will either spay/neuter before the kitten goes to its new home, or will hold registry papers until proof of altering has been provided by the buyer. Breeders also want to be assured that the cat/kitten will not be allowed outdoors. They will verify that your home is free from contagious diseases that could threaten the kitten's health. Don't be offended by breeder questions. Remember that the breeder has raised the kitten and wants assurances that the kitten will be going to a good, loving home.

While everyone wants the perfect kitten for a pet, remember, it will take some work to find a reputable breeder, but it will be worth the time and effort you've expended. When you hold your healthy, happy purebred kitten in your arms, hear its quiet purr and watch while it explores its new home, all your efforts will be rewarded. Enjoy your new family member!
Good luck!

Footnote: Excerpts out of "Cats USA" & Cat Fancy" magazine articles.