June 30th, 2023
WHAT IS A BREEDER?
A Breeder (with a capital B) is one who thirsts for knowledge and never really knows it all, one who wrestles with decisions of conscience, convenience, and commitment. A Breeder is one who sacrifices personal interests, finances, time, friendships, fancy furniture, and deep pile carpeting ! She gives up the dreams of a long, luxurious cruise in favor of turning that all important Show into this years "vacation". The Breeder goes without sleep (but never without coffee!) in hours spent planning a breeding or watching anxiously over the birth process, and afterward, over every little sneeze, wiggle or cry. The Breeder skips dinner parties because that litter is due or the babies have to be fed at eight. She disregards birth fluids and puts mouth to mouth to save a gasping newborn, literally blowing life into a tiny, helpless creature that may be the culmination of a lifetime of dreams. A Breeders lap is a marvelous place where generations of proud and noble champions once snoozed. A Breeders hands are strong and firm and often soiled, but ever so gentle and sensitive to the thrusts of a kits wet nose. A Breeders back and knees are usually arthritic from stooping, bending, and sitting in the birthing box, but are strong enough to enable the breeder to Show the next choice kitten to a Grand Championship. A Breeders shoulders are stooped and often heaped with abuse from competitors, but they're wide enough to support the weight of a thousand defeats and frustrations. A Breeders arms are always able to wield a mop, support an armful of kittens, or lend a helping hand to a newcomer. A Breeders ears are wondrous things, sometimes red (from being talked about) or strangely shaped (from being pressed against a phone receiver), often deaf to criticism, yet always fine-tuned to the whimper of a sick kitten. A Breeders eyes are blurred from pedigree research and sometimes blind to her own cats faults, but they are ever so keen to the competitions faults and are always searching for the perfect specimen. A Breeders brain is foggy on faces, but it can recall pedigrees faster than an IBM computer. It's so full of knowledge that sometimes it blows a fuse: it catalogs thousands of good bonings, fine ears, and perfect heads... and buries in the soul the failures and the ones that didn't turn out. The Breeders heart is often broken, but it beats strongly with hope everlasting... and it's always in the right place ! Oh, yes, there are breeders, and then, there are BREEDERS !!
I LOVE MY KITTY
I love my kitty, she makes my house a home. She always is my best friend, I never feel alone. She makes me smile, she makes me laugh and she fills my heart with love….Did some breeder breed her or did she fall down from above?
I’ve never been a breeder, seen life through their eyes, I hold my little kitty and just sit and criticize. I’ve never known their anguish, I’ve never felt their pain, the caring of their charges through snow and wind and rain. I’ve never sat the whole night through waiting for babies to be born, the stress and trepidation when their still not there by dawn. I’ve never felt the heartache of a little life in my hands, this darling little baby, who weighs but 60 grams.
Should you do that instead of this…or this instead of that, alone you fight and hope one day he’ll grow to be a cat, and bring joy to another being and make a house a home, you know it’s all up to you, you’ll fight this fight alone. Formula, bottles, heating pads, you’ve got to get this right, two hour feeds for this little guy, throughout the day and night. In your heart you know you’re almost sure to lose this fight, to save this little baby, but God willing you just MIGHT.
Day one he's in there fighting, you say a silent prayer, day two & three he's doing well, with lots of love and care. Day four & five...he's still alive, your hopes soar to the heavens, day six he slips away again, dies in your hands day seven. You take this little angel, and bury him alone, with aching heart and burning tears, and an exhausted groan; you ask yourself "Why do this? Why suffer all this pain? but see the joy your kittens bring...It really self explains.
So, when you think of breeders and label them with greed, think about what they endure to fill anothers need. When you buy a kitten and with your precious savings you do part, you only pay with money, we pay with our heart.
PRICING - WHY SO MUCH?
WHY DO KITTENS FROM REPUTABLE CATTERIES COST SO MUCH?
"You get what you pay for"... this statement is so true when it comes to our beloved fur kids.
Our first costs come from setting up our breeding program. Not only do we have to spend a lot of time doing research (health, nutrition, breeding, kittening, cattery management, etc…) and speaking to other knowledgeable breeders, but we also need to find a wonderful vet who will work with us. We also need to set up our cattery. Whether we have an “in home” cattery or have built a detached cattery (additional cost), to keep our cattery in “tip top” shape takes A LOT of hard work and money!! Cleaning supplies, vacuums, scratching posts, kitty beds, toys, litter boxes, litter scoops, combs and other grooming tools, shampoo’s, blow dryers, carriers, etc... These things must be replaced often. We are looking at spending hundreds of dollars, possibly thousands, each year on these items.
Time to buy our cats! A good breeder knows what they want. What their “hopes and dreams” for their breeding program are. What pedigree’s would work best and what look they are going for. To buy a queen of breeder/show quality we are looking at spending between $1500-$3000 PER CAT. Most times, to start a good breeding program, it is necessary to buy a few queens. We also need to buy our stud(s) which again, costs between $1500-$3000. This price does not include shipping or paying customs if the cats are from a different country. Lets just say some one starts out with four females and two males. This would cost a breeder approximately $12,000.
We must prepare for our new arrivals and keep them in isolation for a good month during which time they would see our vet for a complete physical exam to ensure they are in fact healthy. A fecal will be done to rule out internal parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm, coccidia, giardia and toxoplasmosis. Many times, even if a fecal is negative, de-worming is done as a precaution. Blood will be taken to test for FIV and FeLV so that we can rule out these two deadly diseases that are quite easily spread. A fungal culture is done, just in case ringworm is present. Many times, precautionary treatment is given just to be on the safe side since fungal cultures are known to give false negatives. Ringworm is highly contagious and is zoonotic (spread to other animals and people) so it‘s better to be safe then sorry. A dose of Revolution or Advantage is often given to treat for external parasites, such as flea’s and mites. Maybe due to the stress of going to a new home we have to treat for an upper respiratory infection as well - this is quite common. Swabs to rule out PKD are sent away to a lab so that we can ensure that only PKD negative cats are used in our breeding programs. And even after we have done all of this, there is no guarantee that there will not be reproductive/infertility issues, and if there are, we are simply out all of the money that we just spent!
Here is a break down for ONE cat upon arrival at my vet clinic:
FIV/FeLV and Blood Analysis fee: $47
Fecal and Giardia snap test: $41
Fungal Culture: $61
Sporanox (preventative treatment for ringworm once a day for three weeks): $130
Revolution (preventative treatment for external parasites): $10
Clavaseptin (twice a day for ten days, in case new cat has a URI): $10
PKD test: $40
TOTAL (excluding taxes): $389
Right off the bat, for those SIX new cats to enter our cattery, on average we are looking at spending about $2670!
Thorough cleaning and disinfecting is done weekly, some times more often then that! And daily cleaning is also necessary. Buying cleaning products is not cheap when you are trying to keep a cattery clean and free of infectious disease. When you house a large(r) number of cats together, the chance of illness increases. Kind of like a child daycare… when one kitty gets sick, the rest follow. And then comes the vet visits and huge lot of medication that have to be administered faithfully to effectively treat our fur kids. Unfortunately, when showing or bringing in new cats there is always a chance, even if isolated, that an illness/fungus/parasite will be brought into the cattery. If this happens, ALL members of our “fur family” must be treated as a precaution. Part of “treatment” is cleaning and disinfecting the entire cattery and possibly (if dealing with a fungus) bathing ALL cats AND kittens, some times two or three times PER WEEK!! NOT EASY, NOT CHEAP. Remember, even if a cat APPEARS healthy, they can be CARRIERS!!
Another way that we try to keep our beloved kitties healthy is providing top quality foods. Cats, in the wild, eat mostly meat and only vegetables/fruits from the inside of their preys stomachs. They do not eat grains. Diet is a BIG PART of keeping our cats healthy! If you have ever “browsed” through a GOOD pet store, you will know, that to buy a food that is made truly for the well being of our furry friends, costs quite a bit of money. To feed eight adult cats for two weeks, we are looking at spending a minimum of $70 on dry cat food. If you bring kittens into the mix, the price goes up substantially because they require a higher calorie intake then adults do! And many breeders will also add supplements to their cats diets as well which again, is an additional cost.
Buying litter can be quite expensive as well. To keep our catteries clean and as “smell free” as possible - this is quite a large expense for us. It is said that each cat should have their own litter box. For some breeders, this is impossible as their entire floor would be covered in litter boxes. So, even if two cats shared one litter box you can just imagine how much litter a breeder would go through each day! And don’t forget our sweet fur babies… those boxes are filled before we can blink when multiple kittens are using them! We spend a great deal of time just scooping litter boxes, most times, twice per day!
Annual vet checks and vaccinations are done on ALL cats. On average, this would cost about $80 PER cat IF all checks out well. And when it is time for our kittens to see the vet, most times they go between two to three times before leaving our care. If they go three times, the total cost PER kitten would be APPROXIMATELY $150. This does not include cost of de-worming! And many breeders will use Revolution to prevent the kittens from getting external parasites as well. Some breeders also give high dose PROGRAM as it is often used for ringworm prevention (a fungus that seems to be every where, an in particular, at cat shows!). We want to do our best to ensure our kittens leave our care as healthy as possible.
To deliver kittens safely, not only do we have to be home and often stay awake night after night to be on “labor watch“, but we have to buy birthing supplies (disinfectants, needles, syringes, thermometers, scales, scissors, cord clamps, penicillin, iodine, blankets, paper towels, heating pads, kitten formula, etc…). We have to be alert (coffee is also bought in large supply!) and have to be knowledgeable enough to know when some thing is not right. Maybe a kitten is stuck, or contractions have stopped - both of these things require a visit to the vet ($$$). An emergency vet visit is NOT cheap and would cost approximately $60-$150 alone! A c-section very well could be needed, which would cost any where between $400-$1500 depending on the location, the vet and whether it is an “emergency” (most times it is). Maybe momma was never really pregnant, but had an infection in her uterus, that mimics pregnancy, called “pyometra”. This requires immediate treatment and nine times out of ten, the queen must be spayed. A pyometra spay is not inexpensive (approximately $800-$1500 when all is said and done) AND there is no guarantee that the queen will even survive!
Raising kittens is NOT an easy job and over the years, purebreds have been so reliant on their “humans” to help in the birthing process that if we are NOT there many things can go wrong and sadly, kittens can and will die! Our momma’s often don’t know to take off the sac or to“cut” the cord. Some moms are just terrified of these little “things” that just came out of them and occasionally despite what we try, those momma’s just won’t take care of their kittens! Some moms have low milk supplies and some, no milk at all. If we are lucky, giving shots of Reglan may increase the supply but if not, tube feeding is necessary every couple hours through the day and night for WEEKS to ensure our new fur babies are getting all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy fur kids. This requires us to be home ALL the time! We must watch carefully for signs of upper respiratory issues, pneumonia, constipation/diarrhea, hydrocephalus, FIP, stunted growth, lameness, etc… Any “problem” with a kitten is a SERIOUS problem and a fast diagnosis and prompt treatment is essential for survival.
Many breeders will show their cats which costs a small fortune to do! If you are lucky enough, a show will be close and you can attend the show for a couple hundred dollars. But it is not uncommon for a breeder to spends thousands to attend ONE show that is a distance away! Most breeders buy their own “shelters” for the show so they do not have to use the cages that the show provides. Shelters cost a couple hundred dollars EACH. Once they arrive home, into isolation the cats go. They have just been exposed to many other cats who could be carrying many different contagious illnesses/parasites/fungus! Watching them carefully and doing preventative treatment is most often done.
I am certain that there are many other “costs” that I have not included. However, I hope that this will just give you an IDEA of WHY kittens from reputable catteries, where the breeders CARE about the health and well being of their cats and where the breeders LOVE their fur kids greatly, cost so much. The COST alone to start and keep a healthy, happy cattery is most times MORE then selling kittens cover. So, breaking even would be a blessing but most of us are not that lucky. SO, our time and hard work to provide you with happy, healthy, well socialized kittens is FREE. When you are buying a kitten from us, you are simply helping to cover the costs involved in producing good quality, healthy, lovable kittens.
There are MANY kittens out there in shelters, on the street, on farms… who are in need of loving homes. And although all the “extra” work and financial costs wouldn’t be included in the “price” of the kitten like it (most times) is when buying from a reputable cattery - you would be saving the life of a very deserving homeless kitten. I think this is wonderful and urge you to consider this unless it is a purebred kitten you are specifically interested in and even then, there are rescues where many purebreds are looking for loving forever homes! Unfortunately, with taking in a homeless kitten you don’t know what you are getting. You don’t know your kittens history or ancestors or what hereditary/contagious disease, fungus, parasites, etc the kitten may have. I don’t know what we would do without all the rescues and volunteers out there who devote so much time and money to these precious lives!
In the end, the decision is up to YOU. I wouldn’t at all be upset if a potential kitten buyer decided to go the route of adopting a homeless kitten instead of buying a kitten from me BUT at the same time, if some one wanted a kitten from me (or any other “reputable” cattery out there), I would hope that they would understand WHY the price of our kittens is what it is!
PLEASE NOTE: Be careful when getting a kitten from any one! Whether a shelter or a “reputable” cattery! Do your research. Know what questions to ask! Even the most reputable “appearing” cattery can have unhealthy cats! Just BE CAUTIOUS AND SMART!