June 30th, 2023
When we decided to start this hobby we had a long discussion about having people we did not know come into our home and cattery. We have four small children and their safety comes first. We agreed that we would not allow potential kitten buyers into our home and we have stuck by that rule since starting Heart'nsoul in 2008. Yes, we have had some people comment on this and of course, they have the right to be cautious and to look elsewhere for a kitten if they do not feel comfortable, understand or respect our decision. But in 2010 we felt even better about the decision we had made when there were many reported cases of kittens and puppies being stolen from breeders homes in our area. Apparently people were coming down from the bigger cities to "view puppies and kittens", only to leave without one. They would then return later when the home owners were away to STEAL them and sell them for big bucks back home. Some heard that many of them were used as bait. Needless to say, we felt even stronger about not only protecting our human kids but also our fur-kids.
We do not expect buyers to just believe that we take good care of our cats and kittens. After all, it works both ways! We are lucky to be able to offer kitten buyers VETERINARY references, as well as past kitten buyer references and family/friend references. My vet clinic knows us very well and we feel blessed that they are willing to be references for us. At Heart'nsoul we DO put our cats and kittens health and well being FIRST. We do all that we can to keep our kittens and our cats as healthy as possible by seeing the veterinarian when ever it may be necessary and by ensuring they all receive annual vet checks and vaccines. We feed a top quality diet (good health starts from the gut!) and regularly groom and bath ALL of the kittens and cats (yes, some weeks it takes us HOURS UPON HOURS to do this!). And, equally important (if not more), our kittens and cats receive PLENTY of love from our children, ourselves and our family.
When we started Heart'nsoul we felt that even breeding cats should be pets first and foremost and our thoughts on this have not changed at all! However, our thoughts on where our cats should reside have changed. As much as we love having our cats in our home, after much consideration, we decided that building a "home away from home" for the cats was our best option.
We don't consider ourselves the luckiest breeders out there. For a while we had considered giving up this hobby that we love so much. It was back in 2008 when we brought in a cat from Nevada who arrived with many health issues, including ringworm. We can understand now why they say that it is a breeders worst nightmare. Needless to say, having the cats in our home made trying to eradicate it much more difficult. Since then we, like all breeders, have dealt with different viruses and parasites as well. And each time I couldn't help but wonder if effectively treating these issues would have been less difficult if the cats were not allowed access to areas that could not be easily cleaned and disinfected.
It is only logical to assume that if a cat is kept isolated, in it's own cage, it would be less likely to pick up a virus/fungus/parasite/etc from another cat. This is why shelters also separate and cage animals! But a life in a cage is no way for a cat to live. Like with children in a day care, if cats are all together in a cattery, they are going to get sick. But, if they are treated and in an area that can be cleaned and disinfected so that becoming reinfected is less likely and more importantly, if they are overall healthy and are not stressed (like caged cats would be) which would then lower the immune system, getting better shouldn't be an issue. It should just be considered part of breeding - part of life.
Unfortunately, any breeder that shows, any breeder that brings new cats in and any breeder that even goes into the vets office takes a chance each and every time that they will bring something back into their cattery. The truth of the matter is, "reputable" catteries are suppose to show. They need to bring new blood into their program to stay away from inbreeding and to better the overall health of their breed. And they definitely SHOULD be taking their cats and kittens into the vets! So, needless to say, any reputable cattery will deal with viruses, fungus, parasites, etc. It's just the way it is.
To help prevent and to more easily treat and rid our cats and kittens of any issues they may develop, we have transformed our attached double garage into a "home away from home" for our cats. We feel that by having an area just for the cats, that cleaning and disinfecting will be easier and more effective.
Jerry started calling the cattery a "Garattery". Of course, he was being 'smart' because the cattery is his old garage. But, the name stuck. So please let us introduce the Garattery!
The garage was unfinished before we started, with a cement floor, no insulation or walls. We started out by having a floor built up 7" off of the cement. We then insulated the floor with Roxul (6" thick) before laying 3/4" plywood on top. We had a very big window (52"X60") installed and had the plumbing brought out. Many outlets were added, as well as light fixtures. Walls built, insulation installed in the walls and ceiling, drywall put up, painted, flooring installed, etc, etc... Slowly every thing came together but it has been a lot of work and has cost us a ton of money! BUT... the cats really seem to be happy which makes it all worth it!
There are four "area's" in our Garattery... but first... you must go through a locked door, a small entry way and then, another door before you can get into the Garattery! We did this to help ensure the cats didn't escape.
First is the main area - where all of our "girls" are kept. This is also where we have installed the laundry sinks so that we can do bathing and wash dishes, fill water bowls, etc.
Second is the "New Momma's Room". This room is for expectant mom's and NEW mom's. Moms and kittens remain in this room until the kittens are of weaning age (8 weeks). Keeping kittens isolated until they receive their first vaccines is incredibly important. The room is fully enclosed, but well ventilated and the door, which faces the large window, is glass on the bottom and screen/glass on the top to allow plenty of natural light into the room.
Third is the kitten room, which has a FULL glass door as well that allows plenty of light in from the large window. There is also a small window inside the room to provide even more light and that can be opened for fresh air on nice days. Kittens over 8 weeks of age will be in this room. They can easily see their moms (and the other female cats) through the glass door. If they remain in our care after they are 16 weeks and have received their third (and final) FVRCP vaccine and their Rabies vaccine they would then move from the kitten room into the open area, where the rest of the female cats are.
The fourth area(s) are the two stud enclosures that we built. They were made from vacuum tubing and safety fencing. They are very light weight, sturdy and durable. Not to mention a very decent size for the boys.
Although the Garattery is only 420 square feet, there is plenty of room for our fur-kids. The Garattery was made to be very light (in every room) and to allow the cats/kittens to see each other at all times (unless we felt it was best they didn't, in which case a blind could be installed). We have insulated it very well (floor, ceiling and all walls). We bought an EdenPure Heater for the winter, which works wonderfully and keeps every room toasty warm! And we have a large portable air conditioner for the summer. All of the walls (and ceiling) have been painted with HIGH GLOSS paint which allows us to easily scrub/clean and disinfect every where! The flooring we used is VCT - Vinyl Composition Tile (the same flooring used in hospitals, nursing homes, etc). VCT has high resilience to abrasion and impact damage are very durable and easy to maintain. We installed rubber base and used silicone along the top and bottom to ensure water doesn't seep under/over the base during mopping. An axial fan was installed over the sinks which is on a timer to go off multiple times throughout the day to ensure the Garattery remains well ventilated. We installed a fan on the wall, going into the "New Momma's Room" and from there, a vent into the "Kitten Nursery" and from there, a vent going back out into the "Main Area", to help circulate the air and to ensure any kitties in the two enclosed rooms are kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
As I am sure you have realized, it is of the utmost importance to us that our cats and kittens remain in a loving environment. The kids and I are in the Garattery off and on all day. Cleanliness is so very important to us as well and believe it or not, having the cats and kittens in this new area will be much less work for us since the entire "home away from home" will be washable and easy to clean and disinfect.
We hope you are able to understand our reasoning for not allowing potential buyers into our home. Once our children are older, we will likely reconsider this. But for now, we urge you to ask questions, check our references and to have a little faith and trust in us. Once you have your new fur-baby we know you will see that they have been raised in a very loving, clean environment and that their health and well being HAS been our first priority.
And remember, we are happy to meet you with any of the kittens (depending on location). We have a dodge caravan, sto-n-go, which allows us to put down all of the seats so you can spend some time playing with and getting to know our fur-babies.