The term “registered breeder” denotes that a person is a member of one of the numerous cat registering bodies. These are located all over the world and have similar aim and objectives, cat welfare being the most important. Being a member of a club does not automatically make you a registered breeder. Registered breeders have a cattery prefix or suffix to identify themselves and registered their cats using these names. They only breed purebred cats according to the recognised standards set out by their registering club. All their breeding cats are registered and have registration papers. Registered breeders should adhere to the rules and regulations of their clubs concerning the keeping and selling of their cats.
The term “backyard breeder” denotes a person who breeds cats and is not a member of a cat registering body and does not have a cattery prefix. They may have purebred or domestic cats. If they have purebred cats, their cats may have originally come from a registered breeder who sold the kittens as pet only without papers, expecting the new owners to have the kittens desexed. They might have been given a kitten by a friend and decided they want to have kittens of their own. Or, in some cases, they see cat breeding as a way to make money, because they see lots of kittens in pet shops selling for high prices. To these people, cats are a commodity, not an animal.
Whether someone sells their kittens undesexed cannot be used to differentiate between a registered breeder and backyard breeder, nor whether someone sells their kittens to pet shops.
Early desexing (from 7 weeks of age) is a topic of great debate between breeders, rescue organisations and vets. Advocates for early altering believe it contributes to reducing the number of kittens and cats in shelters. Advocates against it believe that it subjects the kittens to various risks due to their physical immaturity. It is true that the vast majority of backyard breeders sell their kittens undesexed, many registered breeders do as well. The difference is that most registered breeders sell with a desexing contract that is signed by both parties when the kitten is sold.
There is also the person who, due to ignorance, lets their female cat have a litter. This may happen because they do not have her desexed before she comes into heat and she is allowed to roam outside or because they wrongly believe a female cat should have “just one litter” before being desexed. They are not backyard breeders, just misguided in their knowledge of cats. Most will have their female desexed after one litter. If they do not, they can then be classed as backyard breeders.
Why buy from a breeder rather than a pet store, private party, or newspaper ad? While buying from a breeder does not insure you a healthy, well socialized cat, buying from pet stores or newspaper ads is often risky business, and may cause you considerable grief and expense in the long run.
Reputable breeders do not sell their kittens to pet shops, so pet shops often obtain their kittens from less than pristine sources, such as the so-called backyard breeders or kitten mills. Such kitten producers breed only for profit and care little about the health, happiness, and long lives of their animals. Their cats often live in deplorable overcrowded conditions; have infrequent handling and no socialization, and little veterinary care. No effort is made to ensure genetic health by carefully planning the breeding and choosing the most genetically compatible mates.
Don't assume that any breeder who maintains a cattery in his or her residence is a backyard breeder, however. Most reputable breeders operate their catteries out of their homes, so they can give their cats the attention and care they need. The emotionally loaded term "backyard breeder" can be misleading; it actually refers to the quality of care and concern and the slipshod, assembly-line method of breeding, not the location where the breeding is done.
Newspaper ads can be placed by reputable breeders, but are more often placed by kitten mills and people who have bred their pet-quality purebreds, violating their purchase agreements since pet-quality purebreds are almost never sold with breeding rights. In fact, most breeders withhold the papers of their pet-quality purebreds until the owners have provided proof of alteration to prevent these matings.
While these kittens may be less expensive than a breeder-bred kitten, you generally get what you pay for. Such people generally know little or nothing about breeding cats. Too, these cats usually cannot be registered or shown since the owners cannot provide pedigrees or registration papers, and without papers you can't tell if the cat you're buying is a true purebred at all. If you buy from a newspaper ad, be even more scrupulous about investigating the seller.
First Things First
Before you begin shopping for your dream cat, you'll need to do your homework. First, you'll want to decide which breed is best for you.
Once you've chosen the breed, it's very important to learn as much as you can about it before you begin looking for a breeder. That means becoming familiar with the breed's standard, characteristics, personality, strengths and weaknesses, potential genetic and health problems, and grooming requirements and other special needs. You need this information if you are to be an informed consumer.
Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful resource for breed information. Begin by reading the PetPlace Breed Profiles. The Cat Fanciers Web Site at www.fanciers.com is also an excellent online resource. Also, visit the cat associations online, since many offer standards and other information on each breed they recognize:
· American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE) www.aaceinc.org
· American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA) www.acfacat.com
· Canadian Cat Association (CCA) www.cca-afc.com
· Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) www.cfainc.org
· Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF) www.cffinc.org
· National Cat Fanciers' Association (NCFA) www.nationalcatfanciers.com
· The International Cat Association (TICA) www.tica.org