If you’ve decided you would like to get a pedigree kitten, then we would always advise you to find a reputable cat breeder in the UK.
It’s really important to find out if your chosen breeder is really serious, and that their kittens are healthy. We’re here to help with 10 questions that you should ask both yourself and your breeder, below.
Are you suited to being a cat owner?
Before getting a cat or kitten, you need to think about whether you’d be suitable as a cat owner.
You will suddenly be responsible for a living creature with its own needs and demands. Moreover, you have to consider your cat when making decisions:
- Who will take care of the cat over the next 10 to 15 years?
- Provide it with plenty of exercise and entertainment, feed it a healthy diet and ensure it is properly cared for?
- Who will look after the cat when you are away?
There are lots of other things to consider too, as a cat is a big commitment and will need to be looked after properly. So if you’re thinking of buying or adopting a cat, think carefully before rushing into a decision. The last thing you or anyone else would want is for a cat to be abandoned or left at an animal shelter because you’ve realised having a cat just doesn’t fit into your lifestyle.
Does it need to be a certain breed, a kitten or could you get a rescue?
If you decide that you are prepared and understand all about a cat’s needs and habits, believe you can offer it everything it needs, then there is nothing stopping you from welcoming a velvet-pawed friend into your life!
Maybe there is a certain breed that you have always wanted to have since childhood. Or you want to watch a cat grow from a little kitten to an adorable senior and spend many happy years with you!
In this case, you will need to find a reputable breeder who has experience with your chosen breed and can assist you, as well as offering help and advice.
It is important to take your time when you choose breeder and selecting your kitten.
Unfortunately, there are a few people hidden amongst the reputable breeders more concerned about making money. As a consequence, the welfare of their cats and kittens is neglected. If you buy from them, you may end up with lots of vet bills and costs later down the line.
So, our advice would be - before committing to buying from a breeder, make sure your cats or kittens have been well cared-for.
10 important questions for breeders:
Can I come and visit you and the kitten?
In order to get the full picture of a breeder and their cats, paying a visit to them is essential. If the breeder refuses to allow you to visit or suggests meeting on “neutral ground” away from the cats, immediately cease contact. A serious breeder will happily invite you to visit and will proudly show you the breeding set up, the cats and any current litters and their parents.
Where do the cats live in your home?
When you visit a breeder they should be open to you inspecting the cats and their living conditions. It’s important to see whether the cats are growing up in a bright, friendly and clean environment full of love!
If the animals are housed separately outdoors, particularly in a cold environment such as a kennel, cellar or shed, then you can be pretty certain that the breeder does not have a love of animals at the forefront of their mind. Speak to your local rescue centre if you encounter such a situation.
However independent cats are (and not all breeds are independent), they still need close contact with humans and should be used to living alongside us from birth. Therefore, you should only buy from a breeder who houses the animals and treats them as part of the family.
Can I look at the kittens?
How the kittens react to their breeder and to you can be a good indication of how they are treated and should help with your gut feelings. Are they open-minded and alert, jumping up for cuddles?
Kittens are curious by nature and want to explore their surroundings and meet you! If you find that they are extremely anxious or seem terrified by your visit, you should be very sceptical and again contact your local shelter. Take a look at the kittens and give them time to sniff you and get to know you. Think about how the kittens behave towards you and how they react with one another.
The appearance of the animals can also reveal a lot about their health and well-being. Are there bald spots in their fur, is the bum dirty or does their stomach bloated? Any of these features can indicate that the breeder is neglecting their animals, and that they are not being cared for and fed in a species-appropriate way. Ask about these things and consider looking elsewhere. It is important to only buy from a breeder whose kittens are all healthy, with a soft, shiny coat and clean nose, eyes and ears, with no caking or crusting.
Can I see the mother cat?
No-one can replace the vital contact that a kitten has with its mother and siblings. Kittens need to be with their mother and siblings to ensure they have a good start in life.
A kitten will learn everything from its mother that it needs to know to have a good life. Therefore, the mother cat should always live in the breeder’s household and be close by.
If this is not the case or the breeder tries to spin you a sorry tale about the mother dying at birth, be on red alert and ask for evidence of these things because unfortunately, this a scam often used by dubious breeders or kittens that have been stolen.
Any serious breeder will care greatly for the mother cat as a pet and will willingly allow you to see her. Firstly, the mother should be neither shy or aggressive, and should happily let the breeder stroke her and be around her. Secondly, pay close attention to how the mother behaves with her kittens. If she is annoyed or disinterested, it may be that she is not in fact the real mother of the kittens. Don’t feel awkward asking when the mother last had a litter because it’s important for cats to have sufficient breaks between litters! A reputable breeder will only let a queen cat have one litter per year at the most.
When can I take the kitten home?
For a good start in life, developing a healthy character and good socialisation skills, it is important that the kittens are not separated from their mother and siblings too early. A serious breeder will not allow you to take a kitten home with you before it is at least 12 weeks old, and only after they are sure that the kitten is ready to be with its new family. A good breeder who loves and cares for their cats’ welfare will also want to know plenty about the kitten’s new home and family.
Have the kittens been vaccinated and wormed?
UK law requires that all cats receive so-called “core vaccines”, which protect against panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus) and rabies. However, there are plenty of other diseases that are commonly vaccinated against, with initial vaccinations happening at nine weeks old with a second set at three months, followed by annual boosters. As kittens are still living with the breeder at this point, any kitten you purchase should already have received all of its necessary vaccinations.
Make sure to see the vaccinations certificates, checking that they include cat flu, infectious enteritis and leukaemia. Check the veterinary stamp, as these first vaccinations can only be carried out by an authorised vet. Feel free to contact the vet to confirm.
Regular worming is also vital for your kitten’s health. As a rule, breeders will worm their cats for the first time about three weeks after birth and approximately every three to four weeks thereafter.
Can I see the cat’s paper work?
If you value having a pedigree cat then you should pay close attention to the integrity of the papers your breeder gives you. They should include the vaccination record as well as a pedigree. For your breeder to have this, they must be a registered member of a recognised breed club. The pedigree will provide information about the parents and grandparents of the kitten, as well as proof that the breeder has met all the breed requirements.
A pedigree will only be given to purebred cats coming from responsible breeding. The parent cats should be registered at the breed association and tested negative for hereditary diseases.
Why did you choose this cat breed?
If you are interested in a particular breed of cat, then you will hopefully have read a lot about it. You can also assume that a responsible breeder will know everything there is to know about the breed. It’s good to ask why they chose this breed and what makes these cats so special in their eyes. A personal conversation can be informative and also act as a small “test” as to the breeder’s seriousness. They should only specialise in a maximum of two breeds and be able to tell you plenty about their personal experiences. If they are breeding more than two different breeds and can only offer up general, superficial information, then be careful. If you have any doubt, go in search of another more experienced breeder.
How much does a kitten cost, and is there a sales contract?
Of course, a good conversation with a breeder should also include a little “business”. A reputable breeder will set a clear purchase price and will not try to tempt you with special offers. A real, pedigree cat from a responsible breeder will have its price and will be worth every penny. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Breeders need to invest a lot to breed healthy kitten. The importance of veterinary visits, vaccinations, worming, health checks, high-quality food and good training cannot be underestimated. A bargain price will not cover these costs. Generally, the wellbeing of the cats and kittens will be suffering and allow the breeder to sell them for a lower price. Feel free to ask the breeder how they came to the price, even if it seems reasonable for the breed. A legitimate breeder will not mind, as they are also looking to stamp out irresponsible breeding and will appreciate your thorough approach!
A reputable breeder should also conclude by making a contract of sale with you, in which you agree to a purchase price and share contact details of both buyer and seller. Moreover, they should go through liability conditions and record identifying features of the pedigree cat. The breeder may also like you to send some photos of the kitten once in its new home just to check up - another good sign you’re buying from the right place.
What tips can you give me about diet and care?
In the forefront of every respectable breeder’s mind is a love of cats, as well as the wellbeing of their chosen breed.
It is, therefore, only natural that a breeder will want to know exactly who is taking the kitten home and the type of house they live.
Personal questions about your job, marital status, housing conditions and hobbies are not asked purely out of curiosity, but allow the breeder to get a more complete picture of you and the home you have to offer.
Be open and honest when answering their questions. After all, you also want to be sure that the cat is going to a happy home and that you are well-equipped to look after it for many years to come.
Don’t be afraid to admit if you are new to cat-owning and are unsure about feeding or care – they’re there to help. It is normal for beginner cat-owners and will not stop the breeder selling you a kitten. If anything, a breeder will be happier to know that you are willing to ask questions and take advice rather than risking your kitten’s health!
A reputable breeder will also be aware that they have plenty to teach you and will be happy to offer out their extensive knowledge. They will happily stay in touch for the first few weeks. If your cat suddenly starts to behave strangely, refusing food or ignoring its litter box, the contact will be useful. They will always be happy to help and offer advice, even years after purchase, and will also enjoy keeping in contact.