How to find and identify a good cat breeder

Two cute kittens in a basket
Finding a good cat breeder is your first step to finding your new kitten

Finding a good cat breeder isn’t easy. Among the list of many places to get a healthy kitten, cat breeders rank at both the very top and the very bottom.

That’s because they vary in their attitudes towards their breeder cat and their business motives. You may find a cat breeder who invests a lot in their breeder cats in terms of money and time. On the other hand, you’re just as likely to find those that treat cat breeding like any other kind of business. These breeders maximize profits and minimize costs at the expense of an their breeder cats’ wellbeing and “product” quality.

You want to avoid getting a kitten from these types of breeders, but they are hard to expose. Or are they? In this article, we’re going to reveal how you can identify a good and honest cat breeder.

Table of Contents

What is a Breeder Cat?

A breeder cat is a cat that is used to create kittens for sale. Reputable breeders will breed their breeder cat to promote desirable traits and avoid inherited disorders. They will track the genealogy of their breeding cats to make sure there is limited in-breeding which can cause undesirable results. Traits that are desirable are:

1. Reduce inherited disorders. The goal is to breed cats that don’t have genetic disorders so that the kitten doesn’t inherit health problems. Reputable breeders will closely monitor their breeding results against their goals. The result is a healthy and happy kitten.

2. Appearance. Most purebred cats are bred to get a kitten that looks a certain way. For example a bengal cat is bred for their markings on their coat. The most common pattern is a spots with the most desirable fur pattern is one that is swirled marbled.

3. Personality. Your average domestic cat will have a unique personality. Much of their behaviors are inherited and learned from their parents. Even thought a particular cat breed is “known” to be affectionate for example, it doesn’t mean every kitten will be that way. Make sure to spend quality time with the breeder cat and the litter. You should try to play with every kitten to check out their personality. Look for one that enjoys being with you, likes you touching them, and comes to you rather than running away. Remember that as a kitten grows, their personality will change so visit the litter more than once.

Ways to find a good cat breeder

  • Visit the breeder at home. You may find a breeder at a cat show for example. Don’t be shy about asking to visit kittens at the breeder’s home. You aren’t breaching anyone’s privacy because this is now an “industry standard”. A good cat breeder is fully aware that a future owner MUST see kittens in the environment where they were raised and are happy to comply. If a breeder insists on meeting elsewhere, he probably isn’t good even though his excuse may seem totally plausible. In fact, bad breeders are sure to give a credible explanation, guaranteed. For example, they might say their litter recently received shots, there’s no need to bother the queen or the kittens, and so on. Don’t be duped: a good breeder always welcomes future cat owners to see the kittens. He has nothing to hide, and it gives him an opportunity to show the quality of care the kittens receive. He’ll be open to sharing how the kittens have been socialized, how they are kept in a clean environment, and how he maintains the health of other pets in the household.
  • Check the overall health of the kitten . Check the kitten’s head, eyes, ears, nose, coat, and tummy for any abnormalities. You can find more information on how to do this here. Check other kittens in the litter as well. First, this will tell you if your kitten is healthy. Second, even if the litter shows symptoms of treatable illnesses, such as flea or ear mite infestations, these signs can reveal how responsible the breeder is.
  • Gauge the breeder’s passion . Encourage the breeder to talk about his cats. You’ll learn a lot, both about the breed and the breeder. For example, you could start by saying you have little to no experience with a particular breed (even if it’s not true), and you want to learn more about its personality and care. Trust us: good breeders-those who are in the business for passion-will talk a lot. They love animals, and they know everything about the breed. Of course, there are always shy people who are breeders, which doesn’t disqualify them, but we hope you get the point.
  • Avoid the breeder if he’s insisting too much . Here’s a story. Once, we visited a litter at a breeder’s home and decided the kittens weren’t the right choice for us. The breeder became insistent, even lowering the asking price. When we got too tired of haggling, we told him that we’ll think about it. (Notice that it’s hard to say a straight “no” to a good salesperson.) He then turned on us, saying we should think fast because others were interested in his litter. We replied, “So, there’s nothing for you to worry about.” In reality, if he wasn’t concerned about selling his kittens, why would he pressure us? Good breeders don’t worry whether someone will take their kitten or not. In fact, they hold the upper hand because they’re often in a position to choose their kitten’s future owners. It’s not unusual for a cat breeder to ask a lot of questions about your experiences with pets, home conditions, and reasons for getting a kitten. Don’t feel insulted by these questions, and rest assured that you’re getting a kitten raised by caring hands.
  • Visit several breeders . When your heart wants a kitten, it’s tempting to say yes immediately. Instead, take a deep breath and do your homework. Try visiting three or four breeders in your area to compare litters. You may come to the conclusion that ALL kittens are cute, but when you place two litters side by side, you can easily spot the differences. Second, scoping different breeders takes the pressure off of you as a future pet owner. You can visit litters with an open mind; you don’t need to rush into a commitment. Visit a couple of breeders, come home, clear your head, and make a decision.
4 cute kittens in a basket with a light blue towel.
Finding a new kitten starts with finding a good breeder

Commercial breeder or animal shelter?

At this point we’ve discussed how to find a great commercial breeder. These tips are to help you find a healthy kitten and avoid a “backyard breeder” with questionable practices. Soapbox time. There are too many cats and kittens in this world that aren’t being cared for. Kitten mills, uninformed owners breeding an intact animal, even pet stores needing “inventory”, and feral cats all contribute to an overpopulation issue. You can see this at your local animal shelter. While you can’t see their parents or how they were raised, there are many wonderful kittens and cats at your local animal shelter. “Adopt don’t shop” is an admirable saying and way to get a new kitten or cat. Yes, there are risks, but you’ll rescue an animal from a likely short life. We regular see animals that came from a shelter and they are happy and healthy. Okay, off of the soapbox.

How to find and identify a good cat breeder closing

Remember it’s always good to trust your common sense and your inner voice. The suggestions offered here are plenty, but we can’t list every single item you need to check off your list when choosing the right breeder. If something is suspicious, doesn’t feel “right”, take a step back. Maybe a breeder is refusing to provide a vaccination record, a contract of purchase, or a pedigree record. Stand firm, especially if they are giving unreasonable excuses for going back on their promises.

One place to look for reputable breeders is TICA. TICA has listings of cat breeders for you to review. They also have a nice article on how not to get scammed by a bad breeder.

Please read our next article in the series where we discuss the earliest age when the kitten can leave its mother. Remember, if a breeder suggests you take home a kitten that’s too young, you should look for another breeder. Choosing the right breeder is tough, but with some care and by asking the right questions you can find a healthy and happy pet. And a happy pet is what we are all looking for.

This article is part of a series about getting your first cat.
Up next: How old kitten must be before rehoming?
Previous: Where to get a kitten?

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