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Why Do People Go To Breeders?

If you are wondering what is the right cat for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about purring and learning.

  
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Lucy

Super Tabby!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 2:18am PST 
I guess I just don't get it. There are millions of homeless kittens in shelters, rescues, and on the street. I found Lucy as a stray kitten. Why would anybody want to buy a genetically modified cat when they could get a wonderful cat and save a life. I'm not necessarily bashing breeders, but I just don't get it. I feel especially bad for cats like Persians and Exotics who faces are flat, or Munchkins, who can have terrible health problems that can lead to death. I just don't get why people are breeding these cats.
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Ubasti

The beds belongs- to me....
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 11:31am PST 
Some people just want a certian breed of cat. It may seem silly to some, but to others it is important.
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Lowell

Regional Winner!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 11:40am PST 
Sigh. I'm a Maine Coon breeder. We have posts like this every so often. I certainly don't disagree that most people are perfectly happy with a generic kitty, which usually means a rescue of some sort. It's said that 95% of all cats in the U.S. are "plain old cats"--not purebreds. But the issue is a lot more complicated than the standard "Why not get a cat from a shelter and save a life?" argument. There are as many opinions about this issue as there are cat owners, I think. For example, I don't really approve of breeds that have been genetically modified to the point where their quality of life may be compromised--Siamese, Persians, and Munchkins being the best-known examples. For most of history, there were only genetic cats, with some variations according to location--Egypt, Persia, Thailand, the Isle of Man (Manx cats), Norway (Norwegian Forest Cats), and America (the Maine Coon), and so on and so on. Later, these indigenous breeds attracted breeders who attempted to breed them to breed standards set by various cat registries, the CFA being the oldest and best-known. Some of these breed standards, such as those for Siamese and Persians, can be extreme and cause physical problems. Some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, have not yet been bred in ways that compromise their health. (Maine Coons are vulnerable to heart problems, but as far as I know, it's not clear whether this is due to breeding practices, or whether it's a problem that has been with Maine Coons from even before there was a purebred version. Breeders are doing their best to eliminate from their breeding programs cats with the genetic propensity for heart problems, and the CFA is a big sponsor of research on heart problems and other feline diseases.)

Take a moment to consider dogs. Distinct dog breeds have been around much longer than cat breeds. If you want to talk about breeding practices and breed standards that compromise quality of life, dogs provide a lot more examples than do cats. Some people defend the idea of dog breeds (which, obviously, require dog breeders) by saying that dogs were traditionally bred for certain tasks. Well, that may have been true at one point in history, but how many people living in your standard suburban home or urban apartment are using Fido as a hunting or herding dog? People choose dog breeds because they like the dog's looks, or personality, or size, or whatever.

It's the same thing with cat breeds. Most people are perfectly happy with generic cats. Even people with purebred cats often have moggies in their feline household (I have Spike). Although not every purebred cat's personality matches widely believed descriptions, you can probably bet that most Siamese are going to be chatty, most Persians are going to be pretty laid-back, etc. Sure, you can go to a shelter and find an adult cat with the personality you want (kittens are kind of a wild card)--in fact, in some ways, I think that's safer than getting a purebred cat because you're sure it's going to have the personality you want. (Some of my Maine Coons have very un-Maine Coon-like personalities).

But then there's the visual aspect. People are often attracted to animals because of their looks, just as they are attracted to other people's looks. Looks aren't everything, obviously. But some people like black cats, some people like red tabbies, some people like Siamese, some people like Maine Coons--and I don't see anything wrong with that. Mind you, this doesn't mean you have to get a purebred to be aesthetically satisfied. A generic cat will do just as well. It's just that some people prefer some looks over others, and, to repeat myself, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

And then there are those people who enjoy cats via showing them in cat shows. Cat shows are heaven for people who love cats (I've never met anyone in the cat world for whom cats weren't the center of their life). Cat shows can be stressful for cats, but a consciencious exhibitor will only show cats who enjoy being shown--and some cats do. Cat shows and the registries that sponsor them serve as excellent venues for exchanging information on cat behavior, health, etc., and breakthroughs in research on cat health have been made through sponsorships by the CFA and other registries.

I'm running out of space here, so I'll make just a few more comments as briefly as I can.

(1) There are many ways to enjoy cats. Having a cat as a family member is the most basic and common, but showing cats (and you can show non-breed cats as well as purebreds) is another. Breeding cats is another way of enjoying cats. So-called hobby breeders breed because they love cats. They do not breed on a large scale, and their cats receive the best in health care and maintenance. Inbreeding is usually not practiced (exceptions would be when a new breed is being developed and there aren't enough breeding partners to go around). Cats are tested for genetic mutations before being bred. Breeders enjoy breeding (which is back-breaking work, by the way) because they love cats, are trying to improve the breed in question, want to show their cats in cat shows (an important source for mentoring and getting advice), and last but not least, want to make new owners happy. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that responsible breeding brings in very little money.

(2) There are breeders and then there are breeders. There are consciencious hobby breeders, slightly shady hobby breeders, backyard breeders, kitten mills, and all sorts of variations in between. And don't forget that the consumer plays a role in all of this. A consumer who does not do research on the breed of cat they want, on how to find a good breeder (not simply for their breed of choice, but certain general rules), but instead buys an iffy animal from a pet shop or a sleazy breeder is as much a part of the problem as the breeders themselves.

(3) If you want a breed cat, there are breed-specific rescue services that can provide you with the breed you want, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have given a homeless cat a place to call its own AND have the breed you prefer.

(4) Breeders cannot be singled out as being responsible for the cat overpopulation problem. As I wrote above, less than 5% of cats in the U.S. are any specific breed. Although shelters will often label a cat as being a certain breed or a mix, not infrequently these labels are rather random if not inaccurate (the chances of finding a Turkish Van in a shelter are virtually zilch). But a breed label can help a cat find a home, so what's wrong with that? In fact, while there ARE purebred cats in shelters, their numbers are very, very few. As for mixes, Siamese and Persians have contributed a lot to the American moggy genetic pool, but certain newer breeds are rare and/or sold with spay/neuter agreements that make random breeding unlikely. To repeat: breeders are not responsible for the cat overpopulation problem (except for kitten mill owners who may just dump their kittens somewhere randomly when they can't take care of them any longer). Nor are people who want breed cats responsible for the overbreeding problem. Most people are satisfied with a generic cat, and the percentage of people who want purebred cats and have the money to afford one is, as I have mentioned before, statistically low. Even though purebred cats do end up in shelters, common sense says that someone who is willing to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a cat is probably less likely to abandon Kitty than someone with a loosely-owned semi-feral cat. I don't have figures to prove this, and of course there are always exceptions, but someone who spends $5000 for a cat probably really wanted that cat, and probably is in an income bracket where financial concerns will be unlikely to cause the owner to have to relinquish the cat.

(5) Breeders are not generally responsible for cat health problems. Yes, inbreeding and other questionable breeding practices exist, but are not practiced by consciencious breeders. If you are concerned about inbreeding, remember that many feral rescues or cat hoarding situation rescues have inbreeding in their backgrounds. A consciencious breeder limits breeding to cats who are not related and test negative for health and genetic issues. Cats with birth defects or illnesses are not sold, but are kept in the cattery. Cats who live in group situations, such as multi-cat households, catteries, and shelters, are more likely to pass on infectious diseases to each other. Cattery cats may have parasites and are almost guaranteed to have been exposed to Coronavirus--but then, so have most other cats. But, by definition cattery cats are indoor kitties, and it goes without saying that they are not apt to have feline AIDs or feline leukemia. As for whether purebreds have shorter lifespans than moggies--that's debatable. Purebred cats tend to live indoors, which is the single most important fact in prolonging a cat's life. It's probably true that a good percentage of people who are willing to fork out a lot of money for a purebred cat are also going to be willing and able to give it good vet care. A purebred cat may be less likely to be the result of inbreeding than a randomly-bred rescue. Purebred cat owners and breeders should be aware of health problems associated with their breed, which means more check-ups. In any event, I don't think you can make a blanket claim that purebreds are more prone to health issues than moggies are. It depends on the individual cat and the owner.

(6) People who are truly determined to get a breed cat are going to do so, whether it means going to a breed-specific rescue shelter, buying from a pet shop, buying from a sleazy breeder, or buying from a responsible breeder. You can't change that. I find it unreasonable when the claim is made that by buying a purebred cat, you are causing a shelter cat to die. First, because a person who really wants a purebred cat will get one. Second, because purebred cats are not involved in any significant way to the cat overpopulation problem. Whether someone buys a purebred cat or not, obscene numbers of moggies will be put down by shelters every day. Pointing one's fingers at breeders as responsible for this obscures the true causes--people who do not spay/neuter their cats, people who do not find good homes for kittens resulting from an "Oops!" litter, mismanagement of feral colonies (and what this entails is another complex subject that I won't go into here), and even the existence of kindly souls with "loosely owned" cats--cats they feed and occasionally give shelter to, but do not necessarily desex or provide with vet care.

(7) I've been on Catster for several years, and one of the most frequently asked questions is "What breed is my cat?" The answer is almost always generic moggy--domestic short hair, domestic medium hair, domestic long hair. Sometimes you see cats with identifiable breed features--usually Siamese, Persian, or Maine Coon. I find it paradoxical that while the majority of people on Catster have generic cats, and that many do not seem to really approve of purebred cats or their breeders, that everyone is so fascinated by cat breeds, and that so many people seem to want their cat to be some "breed." Maybe this is the influence of dogs--most dogs have some kind of identifiable breed(s) in them, even if they're mutts. However, to have breeds (except naturally occurring ones, like Maine Coons--there are naturally occurring Maine Coons and purebred Maine Coons, which is confusing), you need breeders. Anyone (not necessarily the OP) who enjoys the idea of cat breeds but decries ownership of purebred cats or of breeders is being both illogical and hypocritical.

(8) If it were not for breeders, certain indigenous, region-specific breeds of cats would have died out. Everyone's favorite, the Maine Coon, was in danger of dying out in the postwar years, when there was a big boom in Siamese and Persians. The Turkish Angora, which is an extremely rare cat, was saved from extinction by rigorous measures taken by the Ankara Zoo--measures so rigorous that very few true Turkish Angoras have been allowed to be exported. If you're told by a shelter that your cat is a Turkish Angora, the chances of that being true, or even partly true, are almost guaranteed to be zero. Ecologically-minded people deplore the decline in species diversity. Were it not for breeders, certain indigenous breeds would no longer exist. The majority of new breeds are based on foundation cats with an interesting mutation (folded or curled ears, wavy fur, etc.), or hybrids resulting from mixing domestic and wild cats. Whether the creation of new breeds is actually an instance of enhancing biodiversity is a question I have no answer for, but it is certainly true that these new breeds give many people pleasure, and, in general, I see no harm in their being allowed to exist. (Exceptions would be if the mutation causes health problems, or whether hybridization with wild cats poses dangers to people, other animals, or the environment.)

(9) I have nothing but the greatest respect for people who take on special needs kitties--blind cats, cats with brain damage, cats with missing legs, cats with health problems. These people adopt less than perfect cats because they love them and want to help them. However, I tend to get a bit defensive when people oversimplify the matter of adoption to make it simply a way to save a cat's life. Surely, if adopting a cat means that you have saved it from dying in a shelter, or if adopting a handicapped cat means that you have given a loving home to a cat who would otherwise be unlikely to find one, that's a wonderful thing. But this does not mean that people who buy purebreds should be made to feel guilty. People who prefer to adopt a cat without major health issues should not be made to feel guilty, either. Owning a cat should not be confused with saving cats. If you can do both, fine and good. If you can't, you shouldn't be criticized. I often wonder why people think nothing of arguing that a cat should be rescued from a shelter, rather than be bought from a breeder, while they think nothing of having their own babies, rather than saving lives of children facing certain death in developing countries, or adopting a special needs child. Owning a cat should be neither a political or a moral statement. (And besides, you don't own a cat anyway--the cat owns you.)

As you can see, the issue is very complicated. I know a lot more about pedigreed cats and breeding than I once did, but I'm still far from omniscient. However, before someone begins criticizing the existence of purebred cats and breeders, or links the existence of purebred cats with the feline overpopulation problem, I suggest that they do some basic research, which will reveal some of the points I have made here. I have repeatedly tried to get solid

Edited by author Wed Nov 24, '10 7:12pm PST

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Lowell

Regional Winner!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 12:37pm PST 
...Oops, got cut off. Anyway, there seems to be a dearth of data regarding cat overpopulation, how it started, whether it is a bigger problem now than it was in the past, etc. I've tried to research this, but have come up with few figures.

I don't remember what else I wanted to say, except to each his or her own. Every cat deserves a loving home.

As for the thread title, "Why Do People Go to Breeders?"--if you get a good breeder, the relationship will last for the lifetime of the cat. A good breeder will be there to answer various questions about your cat. A good breeder will take your cat back if you find yourself unable to keep it any longer for some reason. A good breeder may even become your friend, and you may find yourself going back to the same breeder again for another cat or cats.

Heh heh, I didn't get Lowell from a breeder. I bred him myself (rather, two of my cats did), and it's a very satisfying experience. He now has a loving forever home--with me!
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♥- Roxy- ♥

Polydactyl Maine- Coons Rule!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 1:09pm PST 
My brother wanted to get a Maine Coon because he wanted a kitten who would grow into a large, healthy Maine Coon type (solid black) cat.
He did not want to get a random bred cat from a shelter because he wanted a cat where he knew the temperaments and health of the parents, and knew that the kittens had gotten adequate prenatal nutrition and health care as they were developing and as they were raised, as well as socialization. I helped him in his search to find a good breeder. I also did some showing with Roxy but that was something I got interested in after she came home, so it wasn't part of the planning. Roxy is a wonderful cat and she's gotten me more interested in the breed so I will probably get my own Maine Coon kitten in the future at some people, even though all my other cats were rescues, mostly as feral kittens.

Edited by author Tue Nov 23, '10 1:11pm PST

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♥- Roxy- ♥

Polydactyl Maine- Coons Rule!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 3:38pm PST 
Also wanted to add, Maine Coons are not "genetically modified". They are a natural breed native to New England.
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Bumpurr

RESPECT The- Star!
 
 
Purred: Tue Nov 23, '10 3:49pm PST 
Show people would go to breeders, because they show, and they want a quality show cat, thats what their hobby is. Non show people, may have gone to a cat show, to enjoy the cats, and see a certain breed, or a certain kitten that catches their eye. Or they may have some across a cat, or picture of a cat, that was a certain breed, that they really liked. Depending on the situation, they may get a show quality cat, or they might, for price reasons, just get a pet quality cat, that is also a purebred, and eligable to be registered, so they have the breed cat they want.

There are show people, who have expensive championship cats that are breeders. And there are, what the common term is, backyard breeders.

Show breeders have alot of money invested in their cats as well as their reputation. They go above and beyond, to make sure the kittens are well cared for, and they get responsible homes, weather it be to a show person or a non show person.

Backyard breeders, for the most part, are in it for the money, no not all, but a good majorty of them are.
They have registered purebred cats, that are not show quality, so not near the money invested in them, as a show person would, and they sell the kittens for ballpark $300-$400, so altho they are not getting rich on it, mol, it is extra income.

Backyard breeders are for the non show people, who have not a clue, about anything, but want the prestige, per say, of saying, I have a registered purebred Persian, its a status thing. And the people they are trying to impress, have not a clue either, so it sounds like they have a high class cat, per say. Or they are for the person that just really likes a certain breed, and cannot afford the higher prices of a show kitten, or may not even be aware, of show breeders.

Not at all, running down backyard breeders, have come across some great ones, very caring, they are just more for the non show people.

As far as the breeds, many of the CFA breeds, came from a barn cat, per say, for lack of a better term, that may be, different, as in the Scottish Fold, barn kitten was born with ears like that, and somebody said, hey, I have a good idea, lets breed for that. That, I do not agree with.

As Harvey said, the Siamese and the Persians of today, look nothing, at all, like the breed of years ago.
Why they bred the Persians to have the smushed in faces, and the Siamese to have those very slim bodies, and which, I know what else they do, to achieve it, which ya don't want to know, I have not a clue, why they decided to do this.

As far as the Maine Coons, they are prone to HCM, as are Ragdolls. Its a genetic defect. They don't know what causes it, they have been trying to identify the gene. The Ragdoll people and the Winn Foundation have been instrumental, in doing the research, as has Dr Susan Little, and there is one other, I forget his name now. After years of reasearch, they identified, one, just one, out of like a zillion, so the research is on going.

But, the breeders themselves, have caused a good deal of this, by not policeing themselfs. They did not test their cats for HCM. Positive cats should be removed from the breeding program and spayed/neutered.
At this point in time, a negative cat, only means, at that point in time, the cat is negative, does not mean, the cat cannot develope it later on. Positive cats, should be pulled from the breeding program. Females or males can get it, altho, males are more prevelant to getting it. You can have one kitten in a litter that has it, and the others don't.

By not testing, and continueing to breed, they are only making the situation worse.

I say this each and every time, this subject comes up, any Maine Coon breeder or Ragdoll breeder, who does not test, is insane, they are playing with fire.

They absolutly, do not, want to come across a kitten buyer like me.

Bump has it.

He was diagnosed at 10 months, was told, he would not live past 1 yr. Somebody's gonna pay, and pay dearly, for that.

Called his breeder, she was beyond helpful, offered me his purchase price back, offered another kitten, offered to help with his vet bills. She didn't even know, she said, alot don't. When I got done, they all knew.

All I asked for, was I wanted to know, where this came from.

Took me over a year, to find it, going back and back, in his lines on both sides, forced kitties to be tested,
even got death threats, on me, on Bump, CFA even got involved. Threatening me is one thing, I didn't back down, thretening Bump, was somebody's huge mistake.

They all kept asking me why, why are you doing this, he is neutered. Because I said, I don't want any more Bump's born, no one should have to go thru, what I went thru. I don't wish this heartache on anyone.

When I got done, a whole top championship line got shut down. They should of tested, this all could have been avoided. Some kitten buyers have lawsuits going.

Like I said, breeders who don't test, are insane, they do not, want to come across, a kitten buyer like me.
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BooBoo

headed for the- light.
 
 
Purred: Wed Nov 24, '10 7:22am PST 
Meowma has always had 'found', rescue or shelter cats; I am purebred but was in a rescue situation. But Meowma is considering getting a purebred at some point. One thing that I'm suprised our show freinds here did not mention is that if you get a kitten from a show breeder, it will most likely be easy to handle, have a pleasing personality, and be used to all kinds of activity due to the breeder's care and handling that goes on in a show home. The buyer is less likely to end up with a kitty that hides all the time or gets over aggressive because of this as well.
Also, Meowma likes seeing all the different kitties at the shows, and the fact that very few of the cat breeds look like any you ever see running the streets (some would argue--go to a cat show if you want to see)Meowma also would like to compete at the cat shows at some point, and maybe even eventually breed some kittens. It wouldn't mean that we could never save a homeless kitty again!
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Bumpurr

RESPECT The- Star!
 
 
Purred: Wed Nov 24, '10 9:44am PST 
Boo Boo is right, was going to get into that, but when this subject comes up, Harvey's and Bump's posts get kinda long, mol, and when Maine Coon's come up, I get on my soapbox about testing, mol, plus, my supper was ready, mol. laugh out loud

Most show breeders ads, say raised underfoot, and they mean that, literly. They have people coming and going, their kids, their kids friends, some have 2 litters going, and my breeder has dogs and horses. These kittens are extensivly handled by many people and are very very well socialized. Show breeders have kitties that are worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollors, they have a reputation to maintain. They want to make sure the person gets the right kitten and is happy with that kitten, and they have health guarantees. If you don't like the kitten, or there is a health issue, you bring the kitten back, they will give you another kitten, or your money back, which ever you want. They want kitten buyers happy, and they continue to help you after you bought the kitten.

Was at Petsmart one time, had to go look at the kitties, mol, could just take them all home, mol. One was very obvioulsly a Ragdoll, had the long fur, the points, the blue eyes, that, was a purebred Ragdoll, who knows where he came from or how he ended up there. They had him labeled as a Siamese.

Not even close, in the coloring or the temperment, two totally opposits of the spectrum. One lady was looking at the Ragdoll, told her it was a Ragdoll, not a Siamese, rescue lady was beyond mad at me. She said nobody knows what a Ragdoll is, but most un knowledgeable people know what a Siamese is, people see blue eyes, oh, must be a Siamese, and they sell, per say, faster. I told her they are mis-representing the cat, and thus, more prone to the cat being brought back.

I see that alot, and read posts on here about that alot, my kitty is a rescue kitty, and they told me he is so and so breed, which, the kitty is very obviously, to a knowledgeable show person, is not.

Not at all knocking rescue organizations, they perform a valuable service in the whole big picture. I just think they should not mis-represent the cat.

And, when one of my kitties had to be put down, and I had room in my heart for another kitty, I called rescue organizations first, I was their best friend, until I mentioned I show, then I was the enemy, they said flat out, we will not adopt to you, one even hung up on me. I said to the heck with this, and decided to get another show kitten, which was Bump. Should thank those people, if it were not for them, would never have found Bump, and thus, found the bestest kitty in the whole world.

big grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grin
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Lola

Proud mother of- the Fab Four!
 
 
Purred: Wed Nov 24, '10 10:48am PST 
Not all of my kittens have grown up to be easy to handle, but that could be because I was going through some tough times when my last litter was growing up, and probably didn't socialize them enough. It is true, however, that none of my cats (even my moggy Spike) have many of the behavioral problems that I read about on Catster. Yeah, we have some toilet issues, but they're related to territorial stuff and my not keeping up with the litter boxes. But clipping nails, grooming, baths, giving medicine, going to the vet, going on trains and riding in cars, the cat carrier--everything is cool. It's partly genetics and partly the way the cats are raised. I've noticed that Chibi's kittens tend to be more outgoing than Leila's; Umesaburo is a mellow dude, and Chibi is eternally cheerful. Leila is an affectionate and very ladylike and well-behaved kitty, but somewhat aloof, and her kittens include some rather unfriendly ones.

As for rescue agencies not being willing to have one of their cats be shown--I can sort of see their point, in the sense that it can be stressful for many cats, and shows do expose cats to germs. But the consciencious exhibitor does not show cats who don't like being shown, and going to a cat show is certainly less of a health threat than letting your cat outside. I suspect that not a few rescue people secretly resent the whole world of breeding and cat showing--all because of the very short-sided generalization that purebred cats are somehow contributing to the cat overpopulation problem.

And, I'm repeating myself here, but when I read of people getting rescue kitties who have ear mites, parasites, fleas, URIs, and who knows what else, I sort of wonder if it's considered somehow noble to adopt a sick kitty--the sicker the better. My breeder wasn't really up on anything but the most basic health stuff (probably the worst thing I can say about him), and the cats I got from him had parasites. I once saw some kittens (none of which I adopted) who seemed to have eye infections, although the next time I visited, the eye infections had been cured. Cats living in group situations are more likely to get sick than those who don't. Still, if I'm going to adopt an animal that may be with me for two decades, I'd rather start out with a relatively healthy one.

And yes, Maine Coons are not genetically modified cats, although there is a difference between naturally occurring MCs and pedigreed MCs. The former breed randomly, and the latter only with other pedigreed MCs. But the foundation stock is the same. Breeding always involves breeding for certain breed standards, which means breeding only those cats who have those traits (in the MC world, tall ears, square muzzle, nose dip, sturdy build, long torso, fluffy tail, and size). In that sense, purebred cats could, I suppose, be described as "genetically modified." But I think this is only a problem when the "modifications" have negative impacts on the cat's health.

Don't forget that dogs have been genetically and surgically modified for centuries. Take bulldogs or pugs: they have serious health issues due to the extremes that these modifications have reached. Or think of the practice of cropping ears and docking tails. Compared with dogs, cats have undergone considerably less genetic and surgical modification throughout the ages.
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