This is the next article in our Kitten Buying – Do’s & Don’ts series.  We have already reviewed what to look for in a contract.  Now it is time to discuss questions you should ask a breeder.

You should first ask yourself two questions to determine what kind of breeder you want to buy from. Do you want a small hobby breeder or a larger, more commercial breeder?  Do you want to be able to visit the cattery or are you comfortable buying sight unseen?

Here are just a couple of very important questions you need to ask a breeder. Based on the answers you are getting, these questions allow you to determine the size of the breeder and how trustworthy they are.

1. How long have you been breeding and what registry do you belong to?

Honestly, the answer does not matter. Length of doing business does not guarantee that you are dealing with a responsible breeder. You still want to ask this question so you can find out if the breeder is honest.  For example, if a breeder tells you they have been breeding for five years and they register with TICA, you should call TICA and verify that they are a breed in good standing.  TICA will tell you for how long this breeder has been a member.  If the information obtained from the breeder does not match what the registry gives you, you may very well be looking at a deceptive person.

2. How many breeding cats do you have?

This question is not about the number of cats, but rather about the breeder’s integrity and honesty. Prior to the phone call, you should look at their website/facebook page and see for yourself how many breeding cats a breeder appears to have.  Pay special attention to the female cats a breeder has.  You might see only 2 or 3 on their website, but might notice more on their Facebook page.  You may see female cat names that are not listed on the website.  Sometimes, a cat can be referred to on an official website differently than on a Facebook page, i.e. ”XYZ Cattery Queen Sheeba” on the website vs. “Honey Bunny” on Facebook.

A sure fire indicator that you are dealing with a breeder who has more than 4 breeding females is if they do not offer shipping. Shipping sight unseen is not allowed without a USDA license if a breeder owns more than four (4) breeding females. Some breeders may state they do not ship out of concern for the welfare of the kitten.  Please note that airlines are heavily regulated to ensure that the kitten stays safe, so this argument needs to considered a “reddish” flag.  The breeder might state that they use private pet transporters.  Please note that this does not circumvent USDA licensing unless you are given the option to decline the kitten with a full refund of your purchase price.

If you cannot find any information whatsoever about the breeder, stay clear. 99.9% of breeders have a web presence of some sort.  Not finding anything at all (not even show report listings) is not a good sign.

3. Do you show?

 If the answer is yes, great! It shows a breeder’s commitment to improve on his/her cats which is the ultimate goal of any program.  If the answer is no – don’t automatically discard the breeder.  A breeder might not be able to show because of non-compatible commitments in his/her personal life, i.e. kids.  Don’t listen to a breeder telling you that you are a fool buying from someone who does not show.  This is a frequently used tool to discredit another breeder to get sales.  Not showing does not mean that you are dealing with an irresponsible breeder.

4. Can I come visit?

Even if you are located thousands of miles away clear across the country, ask that one question. Stay clear of any breeder telling you that you cannot come visit or that wants to meet you in a parking lot.  You will be told that “I live by myself and it’s just too dangerous” or “My cats are very valuable and who knows what germs would be dragged in” or any other possible excuse they can come up with.  This is never a good sign.  At a minimum you should be able to see the kitten in person as well as its mother.  Just because you are asking, does not mean you will actually visit (great if you can).  Once the breeder extends an invitation to visit, you can tell the breeder that it is probably too far, but you were wondering if they could arrange for a Skype session.  The breeder should be happily obliging.

5. Can you send me a blank copy of your contract for review?

A breeder should gladly send you a copy of their contract. If the breeder tells you they do not believe in contracts or refuse to send you a copy without getting a deposit first - big red flag!

6. When do you let your kittens go?

Any breeder should answer that question the same way: “After the second vaccine at 12+ weeks”. Under no circumstance should they let a kitten go any earlier – ever.

If you are still not sure after having had this conversation with the breeder and want to make sure you re indeed dealing with a reputable and responsible breeder, contact us.  For a minimal fee we will research the breeder of your choice and give you peace of mind.