So you want to become a cat breeder… now what?
by Carissa Altschul
Disclaimer: Any medical advice given in this article should be referenced with your vet before beginning treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect any official policy or position of the Cat Fanciers' Association or the Persian Breed Council.
Purchasing Your First Cat
Eventually, you will find a breeder and a cat you want to purchase. Before sending money, be sure to check that if they had a contract on their website, it is the same as the contract they will use with that cat you are purchasing. If you have any questions or concerns about the contract, now is the time to bring them up with the breeder, before money or cat has changed hands.
Ideally, you will be purchasing a premiership cat first, but if not, a male should be purchased before females. This is because males tend to take longer to breed than females, and it is a huge risk to the female to be cycling (in heat) and no male to breed her (or if your boy can’t figure it out). In Persians, many males do not breed until they are 20-24 months of age. The females tend to start cycling around 10 months of age. The general rule of thumb is that you can skip the first two or three heats with the female, but if you skip more than that, she is at high risk of pyometra (a uterine infection that can lead to sterility and/or death.) The most ideal situation is to be able to purchase a “proven” male that a breeder has used for a few breedings and is now ready to part with. Of course, you will want to see the quality of his offspring, but oftentimes breeders are willing to part with a male that is 3-5 years of age, and a GC, for less than they would want for a comparable, younger male. That isn’t to say you will be able to find one cheaply – a quality, GC titled male will probably still be $2000 or higher. But a proven male is invaluable to a beginner’s program.
At the same time that you are preparing to purchase your first cat, you will need to be also searching for a vet. Your best source of information to find a good vet is local breeders. Find out who they use and who they don’t recommend. There are vets out there who are not friendly to breeders (which does seem a bit ironic, since breeders are producing cats that will at some point, probably require their services and keep them in business.) There are also vets who seem to treat cats like they are small dogs; or they seem to believe that all cats can be treated the same way. Finding a good vet who is breeder friendly AND recognizes that different cat breeds need to be treated differently can be as difficult – if not more so – than finding a breeder to purchase a quality cat from.
You will also need to take the time at this point to invest in some basic cat supplies, including food (whatever the breeder is using is best), bowls, water bottles (if the cat is water bottle trained), litter pans, litter, basic meds, as well as preparing a portion of your home for your new cat (including caging – please see the article “To Cage or Not To Cage” regarding why some form of caging is a must for any serious breeder.)
Purchasing Additional Cats
After you have purchased and hopefully shown your first cat, it’s time to consider adding cats to your program. Follow the same process as you have hopefully used for your first cat – research, research, research. Maintaining a good relationship with the breeder you purchased your first cat from is important, as they can be used as a reference with other breeders. Also, they can send you to breeders they know have nice cats and lines compatible with their own. You also now have a new avenue to research, and that is by talking with people at shows. Remember that new cats must be quarantined for a period of time to make sure they adjust to their new home and also to make sure they get a clean bill of health from your vet.