I have countless times in recent years, probably since all way back to just a few years after they released the requirement that the cats imported to Sweden need to be titer tested for rabies or admitted on dispensation before 3 months of age. When they changed the rules so that we only need to get rabies vaccine and then wait for 21 days to take the cat into Sweden, it became a LOT easier for us, though this requires that you travel to the country where the cat is and pick up the cat yourself, if someone else will bring the cat to Sweden for you a trace certificate is required, this is quite expensive and tediously to obtain. (unreasonable if you ask me, but such are the rules).
Well, it was not the different ways of import I wanted to talk about, although this is actually more than relevant in this case as countless breeders from the eastern countries are more than happy to send the cat with a person to the appropriate airport and hand over the cat to you there, and this is actually not allowed without a traces, the cat will count as smuggled in, and it seems like most new breeders do not even know about this.
Buying a cat with breeding rights in Sweden (and as far as I understood, the same goes mainly for all other countries in the world), is not easy, but I can honestly say that I have myself received very few requests, and even if they all would have been asking me, it would just not have been possible for me to sell kittens with breeding rights to everyone who seems to be searching for kitten to use for breeding. However, it’s not as difficult as it may seem, I have talked to lots of friends who also breed and everyone I do know, seem to have the same attitude as me, they are by no means averse to sell kittens for breeding to a new breeder, on the contrary!
However, as well as most of my friends, I want a proper presentation, we want to know that you have thought this through really well, that you got a goal for your breeding (here I think, I can speak for both show-breeders and outcross-breeders, we want you to have a registered cattery when looking for the kitten, or at least have one before it's time for the kitten to move in). We want you to have a plan and a goal, a thought regarding your breeding, of course, the one who will sell the kitten to you wants your goal to be in good agreement with the goal he or she has. Your breeder should be your mentor and then it is good if you have a similar view on breeding. Talk to breeders well in advance, create a relationship with breeders, this will make your way to a new kitten for breeding so much easier, and not just that first one, but also all the future breeding-cats. A breeder who knows you well, will gladly be your mentor and vouch for you to other breeders.
Let’s talk about the big question, to import, maybe mainly from the eastern countries (please be aware that there are a lot of good breeders there also, not all are bad).
What makes imports from those countries so attractive? I can see that it’s not just in Sweden this happens I see it all over the world? And what risks does this involve?
- Many, many breeders ask no questions or very few questions at all, is this good or bad? I wouldn’t say, it’s a good sign when the breeder doesn’t ask questions.
Instead just more or less sells the cat straight to you.
You could ask your self how many more cats with the same pedigree did this breeder already sold eighter to the same country, countries close by or just sold with breeding rights?
- Within these countries, there is an enormous mass of so-called. Cat factories that just mass-produce kittens.
The groups of cats are extremely large and many times there is not a fraction of all the cats present for you to see on the websites.
The cats live in special buildings and the rules are far from our strict rules (now I’m thinking about Sweden, other countries might not have the same strict rules we have regarding the animals). With this, other problems arise. (Of course, not all breeders from those countries are like this, there are a lot of good breeders, but as a new becomming breeder or a new breeder who just started, how would you know what to look for?).
- Infection pressure, in such a large group of cats, it will become enormous. The risks increase significantly for your new cat to carry some infections such as herpes, chlamydia, mycoplasma, high titers on corona, giardia, tritrichomonas or cryptosporidium, just to make a few examples.
- There is also a big risk that your new cat or kitten is very untrained socially and very shy if it as a kitten has grown up more or less isolated from human contact.
- Another thing that might be good to know, especially in the Eastern countries, is that you can get just about anything if you only pay. This means that if you ask the breeder for tests they can basically go to a veterinarian and just buy themselves a certificate (of cours not all veterinarians are like this but, it's pretty common). The same goes for the certificate of course that the cat is free from infections. (This is told by good breeders from those countries, so it comes from reliable sources).
- The parents are almost never tested for HD and HCM other than through DNA, this can also apply to other actually good breeders, but if you are going to import a cat or kitten for a lot of money who is also from not tested parents, then you should at least make sure that the cat/kitten you will import got a really unique pedigree. How would you know what’s unique if you do not know the all the cattery names, and the history of those back in a pedigree?
- You should also be aware that a breeder in many eastern countries does not even take one third as much for a cat in their own country as they do when exporting a cat. For them, it’s a hugely good deal to sell a cat abroad. This, unfortunately, attracts a great deal of anything but serious people who want to earn big money on the mass-export of cats. Some have even built up a business with the decoy in Sweden or possibly other countries as well, a relative or friend living in the country in question, who sells the cats for them.
- I have seen countless times on various international forums where breeders paid in advance just to never receive any kitten.
- I also have seen and talked to many, many breeders who bought cats or kittens who’s been really, really sick at arrival, in worse cases even died soon after arrival.
- An import should also have unique lines, otherwise, it is quite pointless to bring the cat or kitten to our country, right?
To import is an adventure even for an old experienced breeder, so wait with importing a cat/kitten until you got some experience. If you would like to try this as a new breeder, please make sure you have a very experienced breeder that helps you, a breeder with many contacts abroad who can help you find a good breeder that they know, or know someone who knows, etc.
It’s been countless times over the years when I have seen various cases where things went very wrong because someone has done an import without having the knowledge.
I’ve seen imports from Australia/New Zealand/USA, being imported to Sweden and claimed to be very unique lines. I threw a single look at the pedigree and found ou that, the grandmother is actually being born at my friend close by in Sweden, the same thing with the father's side in the pedigree, even there was perfectly known cats from the Nordic countries, together with a few so-called. Dozen lines, ie cats found in each and every pedigree. When import it’s not a fact that if it’s further away it’s more unrelated lines (apart from the US) most of the countries far away from Sweden actually got mostly imports from Europe themselves. So don't cross the river for water. In this case, it would actually be a lot less expensive and a lot easier to just travel 1 hour to get a cat/kitten with those lines then import from the other side of the world.
Another case I have seen was a male represented as completely unique, purchased from "some" country in Europe and imported to Sweden. In this case, the male already had a brother who was already imported and bred in Sweden, just about a 1-hour drive from where this new male was located.
Now, I am not saying that it is WRONG to find cats that are related and import to the same country, I have done it as well as others, but we should not fool ourselves into thinking that what we take in is unique when it’s not. Learn to read and recognize both cats and cattery names before deciding to import. Learn to be able to recognize names in pedigrees. So that you know what it is you bring in, so you how much or how little the cat/kitten you bring into the country actually are.
A tip that I always advise is to make test matings, with all imported cats you can remember in our country, (here it definitely helps if you have been breeding for a while or if you have an experienced mentor who’s been doing this a little longer). I found a boy a while ago, unfortunately, one of the parents had HD, so I could not buy him but, what a pedigree! I did test mating with all the cats I could come up with here in Sweden, both imports and Swedish-born, females and males, show lines as outcross-lines and the absolute closest I came in inbreeding was 0.07% in 8 generations… (of course also low in clones), It was a really unique line for Sweden, but unfortunately, things do not always go as we want, so I just keep looking and hope to stumble upon something equally unique but this time with all the qualifications I personally wish for.
Finally, I just want to point out that of course there are good breeders in the eastern countries, just as there are ridiculously bad breeders also in the rest of the world. So the main advice is really to wait with imports until you got a bit more experience or to ask for help from some very experienced breeder.
By: Malin Sundqvist