You love your pedigreed cat, and you know other people would as well. She’s got a beautiful coat, brilliant green eyes, an a great temperament. But before you begin imagining the adorable kittens you could breed and sell, it’s important to learn about the reality of becoming a cat breeder.
Becoming a cat breeder is a hobby not a career move. Because of the expenses required to keep up a cattery, all of the money you make from the sale of a litter of adorable kittens is probably going to be taken up in bills, food, supplies, and other cat breeding costs. Unfortunately, you may have noticed that this list of expenses does not include the cat breeder’s salary.
In fact, most breeders never break even. You should never consider breeding a reliable income to survive on. You can theoretically support your cats and cat show activities by selling kittens, but don’t count on it. That’s why most breeders are hobbyists. And what an expensive hobby it is!
Become an Expert on Your Chosen Breed
You may know a lot about your cat: her likes, dislikes, her favorite toys. However, knowing the traits, potential health issues and temperament of your breed as a whole is very important toward becoming a reputable breeder with lots of knowledge.
It is important that you learn as much as you possibly can about your chosen breed before you think about opening a cattery. You need to be able to know about how to select great cats for your breed, paying special attention to bone structure, coat, and genetic history including genetic health. You need to be knowledgeable about the bloodlines you are looking at or hoping to use. Contacting many breeders and asking to talk about the breed, breeding in general and any tips or help they may offer will serve you well in establishing credibility and a useful network of people you can rely on for help and advice in the years to come.
The only reason at all anyone should be breeding is to better the breed. In order to better the breed you need to have a complete understanding of what makes a great example of your chosen breed. There are very limited ways to learn about genetics behind the lines of your breed and what that means to you. This is not something that is learned with a few hours of online browsing.
A common suggestion for those interested in becoming a cat breeder is to actually purchase an altered cat and show him/her. This is for experience and to get a ‘taste’ of what it is like to be in the show halls, to prepare and groom your cat and see if you like it or if it’s something you want to do.
Commonly people are anxious to jump right in and start putting two cats together and make kittens. If someone takes that approximately one year to show an alter they will have developed a much deeper understanding of the breed, developed critically important networks of breeder friends who will be much more likely to help the new breeder with a good cat to start their breeding program. They will have had the chance to see and handle many different examples, including myriad colors and patterns, of the breed. There is no other way to gain that amount of knowledge. The person that took the path of showing for a year prior to buying their first breeding cat will be years and years ahead of the one that jumps right in. They will have the knowledge of who to buy from, what to look for and how to select genetically healthy, structurally sound cats.
A successful breeder who is approached by a brand new breeder asking for their best cat is not likely to jump at the chance to sell their great show cat to a relative newcomer to the breed. On the other hand if this same successful breeder saw this person showing a cat at every show, got to know them over the year or so they would be much more likely to share a wonderful cat with them. So when it comes time to purchase a cat for breeding, don’t expect to just get a nice cat from a reputable breeder. No reputable breeder wants to sell a whole (unaltered) cat to an unknown person who has not even shown a cat before.
It’s quite difficult to find a breeder willing to mentor new people and help them learn how to do things right, let alone give them tips and support. We cannot encourage the importance of having a mentor as a new breeder. It’s very important to talk to people who are already well established, reputable breeders for your chosen breed. Let them know you want to learn, ask questions, a lot of them. And be open minded about showing an altered cat before starting to breed. It really is in your best interest.
A Great Deal of Time and Money is Necessary
In order to be a reputable, first class cat breeder, you need to devote yourself full time to your cattery. Daily tasks such as cleaning, grooming and feeding will be not just an option, but mandatory in maintaining healthy cats and a healthy environment for your cats. In addition, you will need to consider that vacations are very difficult and its almost impossible to have long term plans in place. Sudden health issues, having pregnant cats or young kittens, will likely disrupt any plans you will be able to make.
The expense of breeding cats is also a limiting factor for many people. You will have the initial investment of purchasing cats with breeding rights and of setting up a proper cattery space. Then there will be numerous health care expenses for your cats. An emergency C-section, for instance, can cost in the neighborhood of few thousand dollar. There are also expenses related to proper food, grooming, showing cats and general care.
Many disreputable, unethical people will buy cats as pets that are not sold with breeding rights and disregard the breeders wishes to have them spayed or neutered. They do this to get the cats cheaper and then just sell the offspring without registration papers. These disreputable people are causing harm to the breed by breeding cats of subpar quality with the goal of just making money. Not all cats are breeder or show quality, in fact the number of quality cats is actually quite small. When you see ads that show all a breeders cats priced breeder, show or pet you should have a red flag.
The Emotional Toll of Breeding
While, in order to do this right, the time and money requirements are significant, many cat breeders find they are unable to handle the emotional toll. You must be prepared to see your cat die due to complications with giving birth or some other related concern. Kittens also frequently die or are still born. When you go to sleep one night and there are 4 kittens and wake up to find 2 kittens and a paw it can be emotionally devastating. Unfortunately, these are common issues to any cattery.
Another emotional hardship associated with breeding cats is figuring out what to do with the kittens you are unable to sell. You must be prepared to keep these kittens yourself or find homes for them.
And yet another very difficult part of breeding is that you have to retire your beautiful cats and allow them to go to another home. So you keep your beautiful girl that you got as a kitten, loved her and showed her, costing many thousands of dollars, and at around 3 years old have to find a home for her to go to. Letting go is so hard but in order to better the breed, we have to keep adding new cats to the line and retiring the older ones. And we can’t keep them all as we have to be ever so cautious of our number of cats in our cattery to maintain a healthy and responsible environment.
An Expensive Hobby
In essence, cat breeding makes a rewarding, though very expensive, hobby. It is not a good source of income, nor is it easy work. Becoming a cat breeder consumes a great deal of time and money and is unlikely to provide any kind of return on investment for several years, if ever.