Has been COTD!
|Purred: Tue Aug 17, '10 5:58pm PST |
|It sounds like this breeder is selling sick cats. No, she does not sound like a good breeder. She sounds like she is not doing what a good breeder does--treating treatable diseases, keeping sick cats quarantined, probably not keeping the toilets clean enough, perhaps underfeeding her cats. Contagious diseases like ringworm and URIs spread in any multicat environment. That includes not only catteries, but also shelters and multicat homes. Catteries have fewer cats than shelters, and a good cattery keeps a keen eye on sanitary conditions and the health of each cat/kitten. A good cattery does not overbreed its females, and except in rare cases, when a cattery is trying to develop a new breed, for example, line breeding (breeding genetically related cats) is not practiced. Lowered immunity may be related to inbreeding, but ringworm, URIs, worm infestations, and giardia are not, so far as I know. Some conditions CAN be passed from the mother cat to her kittens through her milk--roundworms being one example. Sharing toilets is another common way for cats to pass on parasites to one another. If one cat gets a URI, it is not uncommon for all the cats (especially kittens, whose immune systems are not yet well developed) to catch it. Again, the same thing happens in shelters and multicat homes. Perhaps the safest way to raise kittens is to make sure that Momcat doesn't have any parasites or other diseases that can be passed on to her kittens. The kittens should be isolated from the rest of the cat population until their immune systems are developed. If all the adult cats and any other kittens in the household have been checked for worms and the like, the younger kittens will not spontaneously develop things like ringworm. There is a possiblity of them developing URIs if another cat in the household has, for example, been to a cat show and picked up an infection in the air (it happens). Cats can also pick up URIs at the vet's. The cat may not show any symptoms, but pass the infection on to other cats anyway. A good breeder is responsible for treating any kittens who are obviously sick. Fleas can enter the house by hitching a ride on a human's clothing, or by flea-infested rodents (fleas can also transfer tapeworms). A good breeder recognizes these symptoms, and treats the kittens. A kitten should not be sold until it is well. Unfortunately, things like herpes can recur, but it is probably somewhat naive to think that any multicat environment--shelter, home, or cattery--is always going to be free of URIs. If a cat has a serious health problem that cannot be cured (a heart disability, a URI that has permanently plugged up the tear ducts), the breeder should not sell the cat, but keep it in the cattery.
However, I will play the devil's advocate here. If you're going to buy a cat from a cattery, you must do your homework. A URI may not be obvious when you first go to see the kitten, and then flare up when it is stressed out by its new environment, but something like ringworm should be obvious from the start. A potential buyer should insist on looking at all the cats and kittens in the cattery, and if any of them look sick, find another cattery. The best article I've read about choosing a cattery is about Maine Coons, but the information is applicable to any breed.
If you're going to buy a cat from a cattery, make sure you do your homework first. Learn how to distinguish a good cattery from a bad one (the article above explains a lot about that one). Learn what diseases to look for (obviously, there are some that can't be seen with the naked eye, like roundworms, but you should be able to see if there are fleas, ringworm, URIs etc. in the cattery). Ask the breeder if the parent cats have been tested for parasites, and for genetic defects specific to that breed. Educate yourself on the breed standard for the breed you're looking at--the CFA is a good place to start. See how the kittens respond to you, or, perhaps more important, how the adults do. Demand to see the pedigree up front, and don't be afraid to ask questions about any cats who seem to be related. Also, educate yourself about the cat world. Recognize that famous catteries are NOT always the best; smaller catteries who spend less time on PR can produce good cats, too. Regarding cages, breeding cats under foot is the ideal, but there are times when a cat must be caged--when it's being treated for a parasitical infection and has to have its own litter box, when a cat in heat is quarreling with the other females, when a cat has just come back from spaying, etc. The stud must be kept separate from the other cats, in his own room or in a cage. Kittens have to be kept in some kind of enclosure until they have been litter box trained. There are sanitary benefits to keeping cats in cages all the time, but I prefer cats that have been bred under foot.
One rule of thumb is that a good breeder should show their cats in cat shows, at least from time to time. Sick cats or cats who don't meet the breed standard will get cold treatment at shows. Breeders like to gossip, and a breeder who is recommended by a lot of other breeders is likely to be a good breeder--BUT breeders also tend to form cliques, and will badmouth another breeder simply to be catty. As for the CFA logo and CFA registration: the cattery's name is registered with the CFA, but the cattery itself is not. The CFA does have a list of "Catteries of Excellence," but while catteries on that list probably are excellent catteries, many equally excellent catteries are not on that list. I live in Japan, where the CFA is very active, and know which catteries produce the best cats. The last time I checked, there were very few of them on the list--not because they failed the inspection, but because they never applied. The CFA only gives a cattery the right to say that the cattery's name has been registerd with the CFA--in theory, you could register your cattery and not even own a single cat! So don't be too worried about the connection with the CFA (or TICA, or any other registry). But a backyard breeder will not show their cats (it's too expensive, for one thing--one cat in one cat show costs around $200 in Japan--ouch). And their cats would probably not meet breed standards.
Every serious breeder wants to have a Grand Champion (preferably a stud) in their cattery. Becoming a Grand Champion is not that easy. Becoming a Champion, however, is almost automatic if you put a cat in one or two shows. Having Champions in your kitten's line means that the breeder does show his/her cats, which means that the cats are probably not obviously ill, follow the breed standards, and relatively well-socialized (points are taken off for cats who obviously don't like being shown). It also means that the breeder has a support group which acts as a source of information about breeding, illness, and breed standards. On the other hand, unless you have an absolutely amazing cat, making your cat a Grand Champion or Regional/National Winner is all about points. In other words, you have to have the time and money to put your cat into lots and lots and lots of shows. There are plenty of excellent cats who are not Grand Champions or Regional/National Winners.
Your breeder sounds like a lemon. There have been other complaints lodged against her. This is a sad but true example of how a potential buyer should do a lot of homework before buying a cat. Use the Internet. Hang out at cat shows. Visit a lot of catteries.
As for me, I bought five cats from the same breeder. His cats were more or less bred under foot, but he was at work most of the day. The first cat I bought from him (Harvey) was very standoffish from the start, but eventually became quite friendly. All of the kittens I got from him turned out to have roundworms, apparently from Momcat's milk. His stud had coccidia, but since he didn't share the other cats' litter boxes, he didn't infect anyone else. Let's just say that my breeder wasn't really up on medical things. Nor did he have a clear idea about cat color genetics (which is, to be fair, an extremely complicated topic). Nevertheless, aside from the roundworm problem, and the fact that some of his kittens were not particularly affectionate at the start (after all, every cat has a distinct personality), he was not a backyard breeder. However, he and his mentor (all breeders have mentors) both made buyers sign contracts stating that the cat being bought could not be returned for any reason but a congenital disease. His thinking was that if one of his cats had ringworm or a URI at the time of sale, the buyer should have recognized that and not bought the cat (none of the kittens I saw ever had either condition, by the way). If ringworm or a URI developed later, in his view, it was no longer his responsibility. Yes, even I found this attitude a bit irresponsible, but I understand the reasons behind it. One of my cats developed a URI several months after I bought her, and I'm pretty sure she caught it at a cat show. I certainly couldn't blame him for that. I do blame him for not deworming his queen each time he bred her, though.
As a side note, one tricky issue is that of FIP--a devastating, invariably fatal disease that kittens are particularly vulnerable to. FIP results when feline coronavirus mutates. A significant majority of cats, especially those raised in a multicat environment, show antibodies against coronavirus when given a blood test. One might think that a breeder should have all the cattery's cats tested for coronavirus antibodies, but since the majority of cats have coronavirus, and it mutates into FIP only rarely, this is, to my knowledge, not a test that is regularly done on cattery cats.
Sorry to have gone on for so long. And I'm terribly sorry for all the people who have been ripped off by breeders. There are irresponsible breeders out there. There are also breeders like my own breeder, who are basically good breeders, but not perfect. In fact, I wonder if there is such a things as a perfect breeder.
As for breeders who abuse their animals--yes, they do exist, and they are the lowest of the low. You know, the type of puppy/kitten mill breeders who keep their cats in cages that are filled with feces and dead animals. Or the type of breeder who kills an animal who is sickly or otherwise cannot be sold. Or a breeder who makes a queen give birth too often or too many times. This is why the buyer has to do their homework--and even that is not a guarantee that a cat is going to be healthy. I was irritated at my own breeder when I discovered that he was selling cats with roundworms, but that's nothing compared with selling inbred cats or cats with ringworm (which is obvious to the naked eye). Unfortunately, sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes--I know I have. You ran into a lousy breeder. I feel sorry for you and your kitty, and hope that somehow things will work out.
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