HOW TO FIND A REPUTABLE BREEDER
By: Judith Schulz
People have asked me over the years what to look for when buying a Maine Coon kitten. With so much contradicting information out there, an intensive search can become confusing and frustrating! This is why I added another link to my website:
What can be some of the signs of a good breeder?
There are as many responsible as irresponsible breeders out there. Showing discernment is the key! Breeders certainly don't have to meet all the criteria below to be reputable! I am simply trying to give people some "clues" on what to look for:
- The breeder is at least registered with one registry CRUCIAL or several Associations DESIRABLE (preferably with MCBFA also if an older Cattery). MCBFA has ceased and membership had to be earned.
- Breeder regularly tests for breed-specific diseases (HCM, PKD, HD, also SMA in some lines) CRUCIAL
Both the gene test and Color Doppler Echo Cardiogram are tools for HCM testing. However, the Color Doppler Echocardiogram/Ultrasound, done by a heart specialist, is presently the only fairly reliable form of HCM testing. The older the animal is at time of testing, the better. Oh, and yes, there can definitely be hip and heart problems in ALL pedigrees of the Maine Coon breed.
- Breeder shows his/her cats regularly or has past show experience. CRUCIAL to be able to breed according to standard.
- Facility pictures are openly shown on the homepage DESIRABLE
- Pictures and some information about the breeder and his/her family is DESIRABLE as you might want to see and know about whom you are potentially getting your kitten/cat from.
- Some of the pictures of kittens/cats on a homepage show the background ( the actual living space) DESIRABLE
- Breeder openly displays registered names and pedigrees of his/her cats on the homepage, not just the "call names "DESIRABLE as this can protect you from fraud.
- Cats are not kept in pens, except for birthing, introduction purposes, or possibly short periods for a potentially spraying tom cat CRUCIAL
- The facility is not overpopulated CRUCIAL for health and well being. Crowding leads to stress, stress often leads to disease. Overpopulated Catteries will not be able to pass TICA Cattery of Excellence with a good rating.
- Breeder lets you see their facility by appointment (or during pick-up of our kitten) DESIRABLE but please take into consideration that some breeders will not let you visit to protect their Cattery from viruses and diseases.
- Health and hygiene in the facility are excellent CRUCIAL
- The majority of cats are friendly and outgoing CRUCIAL. If they aren’t they could possibly breed with shy bloodlines or don’t socialize their cats.
- Breeder’s concern is to provide a healthy, quality kitten, rather than following trends and extremes. CRUCIAL
- The breeder has good communication skills. How do you expect to get proper after-care if communication is not satisfactory before the purchase? DESIRABLE
- The facility is Veterinary inspected DESIRABLE. Definitely! Why not?
- Breeder takes part in a voluntary responsible breeding program (CFA and TICA offer these) DESIRABLE
- Kittens and cats appear healthy, with nice coats, clear eyes/noses and well-nourished CRUCIAL
- The breeder is transparent about potential problems or weaknesses in certain lines. Purebred doesn't mean perfect. Beware of "disease-free or "free of genetic defects" catteries! Even though some breeders are able to produce *very* healthy kittens on a continuous basis, you likely aren't being told the truth if everything sounds just a little too perfect. CRUCIAL
- Matings are being done wisely, with a keen knowledge of pedigrees, heterozygosity and potential issues in the lines. CRUCIAL!
- The breeder has a responsible, somewhat outcrossed program in place (note: an "unrelated" pedigree over 4 generations can in reality be very inbred!!) CRUCIAL. Too much inbreeding lowers immunity and produces irritability in temperament.
- Breeder makes a supplemented Raw meat mix part of the cats'/kittens' diet (if commercial food is fed additionally, it is grain/gluten/corn free). Believe it or not, this could potentially be CRUCIAL as it gives your kittens a great start in life.
- Breeder has a controlled amount of litters throughout the year and enough loving homes lined up for the kittens. CRUCIAL
- Breeder has experience,visible knowledge about his breed and also a real love and passion for the breed and his/her own cats CRUCIAL
- Kittens are checked by a veterinarian before they leave the breeder CRUCIAL
- Breeder wants to get to know prospective buyer before selling a kitten CRUCIAL
- Breeder does early spaying/neutering or requires spaying/neutering before releasing the registration papers CRUCIAL
- Breeder has a written sales contract and health guarantee, asking you not to declaw the kitten or let the kitten go outside without supervision CRUCIAL
- Kittens are sold with registration papers, once proof of sterilization has taken place CRUCIAL
- Kittens are not released to their new homes before at least 12 weeks of age CRUCIAL
- Breeder never sells to pet stores CRUCIAL
- Breeder never sells to strangers out of a cage or out of their car at a cat show CRUCIAL
- Breeder is able to provide excellent references. CRUCIAL
- Breeder does not give cheap "deals' on a continuous basis. Proper quality care would not allow an unusually low price. Chances are you pay for what you get or it’s a scammer. CRUCIAL
- Breeder has at least a decade of breeding experience or is supervised by excellent mentors CRUCIAL
Don't be fooled - backyard breeders and kitten mills can have very appealing webpages. They can be professionals in taking amazing, often heavily photoshopped and manipulated kitten pictures. You might never know who the parents really are. Some cats in the pedigree may have been tested * somewhat* for genetic problems but has the breeder him/herself lifted any finger to get their own breeding stock *properly* tested? The same goes with titles - let them show off those ribbons :-).
Some newer breeders here in Canada have a heart of gold, a TRUE passion for our breed, a longing to be mentored and to do things properly. Blessings to them!
Having said this, MANY so called breeders are suddenly coming out of the wood works, recognizing a market niche, due to the latest developments of the pet industry. They often aim for expensive “rave colours” and overtypification, have no proper mentoring and literally are a disgrace to our beloved breed! Many other breeds of cats and dogs have been ruined by their kind.
Then there are scammers. Scammers steel pictures off of other websites and sometimes don’t even have cats! They can potentially take your money and run!
Long story short, just make sure to ask LOTS of questions before committing to a purchase.
There are further things to consider when buying a Maine Coon kitten, but this list above gives you a pretty good indication about some important details. Some of us have learnt to read between the lines when looking at webpages. Please do your homework before buying a kitten from a questionable place!
Oh and by the way..........There is an enormous difference between animal welfare organizations, which work for the humane treatment of animals, and animal rights organizations, which aim to completely end the use and ownership of animals. Just type in “the truth about peta” in your search engine and learn about them. Here’s a good one: