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If You Bought a Purebred Cat, I Won't Judge You

You've heard it before: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter cats die!” But I think that mindset does more harm than good. What about you?

 |  Dec 12th 2012  |   180 Contributions


One perennial truth in the world of cat lovers is that nothing generates as much passionate and even heated debate as the decision about whether to get your cat from a rescue or a breeder. My answer is, “I really don’t care where you got your cat, as long as you provide that cat with a loving, safe home and good care for its entire life.”

The diminutive Singapura is affectionately known as "the Velcro cat." Girl and her Singapura cat by Shutterstock

That’s not to say I don’t care about cats who suffer in kitten mills or die on the streets. It’s certainly not to say I don’t care about the appalling number of cats who are killed in shelters simply because the constant influx of homeless cats makes it nearly impossible for open-admission shelters to have enough room to keep cats more than a week or so. But if you think rationally for a moment, you’ll realize that the problem of homeless cats is not the fault of responsible breeders -- and it is certainly not the fault of people who decide that they want to share their home with a purebred cat.

The Siberian is known as a gentle giant with a mellow disposition. One of my good friends owns two Siberians because her spouse has a very severe allergy to the Fel d 1 protein in cat saliva, and the Siberian produces much less of this protein than other breeds. Seal-point tabby Siberian cat by Shutterstock

You can’t honestly think that if all the breeders on the planet suddenly disappeared, the millions of homeless cats would disappear along with them.

The only way there are going to be fewer homeless cats is if we educate people about the importance of spaying and neutering (starting as early as elementary school) and provide easy, affordable access to spay/neuter services -- and if we start advocating for and implementing large-scale trap-neuter-return operations to control the feral cat population.

And when I say "educate," I don't mean "explain in a patronizing tone of voice why they're wrong." I mean "be friendly and articulate, and meet people where they are."

The Somali enjoys a reputation of being an intelligent, outgoing, high-energy and mischievous cat. Somali cat by Shutterstock

The only way we’re going to stop kitten mills from selling unhealthy and poorly socialized “purebred” cats is to educate people about the fact that there are kitten mills. Most people know about puppy mills, but very few people realize that the purebred kitten in the pet store probably came from a kitten mill or a backyard breeder.

In order to implement these real solutions, we need to stop judging and shaming people who buy purebred cats. No matter where or why the caretaker of a purebred cat got that cat, it’s a pointless waste of energy to sit on our high horse and sneer at them. Instead, let’s welcome responsible breeders and purebred cat owners into the circle of people working to improve the lives of all cats.

And now someone’s going to say, “There’s no such thing as a responsible breeder!” Oh, come on! That’s about as rational as saying, “There’s no such thing as a good rescue” after hearing about Caboodle Ranch or some other rescue that became a horrific hoarding situation.

I confess: Self-interest might be involved in my writing this article. I'd love to add a Russian Blue to my feline family. I've started looking for a responsible breeder in my area. Russian Blue cat by Shutterstock

We in the cat rescue world tend to be entirely too judgmental in general. Whether we’re judging shelters for being “kill shelters” or judging people for buying their cats, or, worse yet, judging the shelter in the next town over because they don’t do things the same way our shelter does, we’re wasting energy that would be put to much better use coming together to save cats’ lives.

If we want a real and long-term solution for the suffering of homeless cats, we need to involve all cat lovers, not just the ones we deem worthy of being our allies. We need to understand that there will always be people who want purebred cats in their lives and to encourage those people to buy their feline friends from a responsible breeder or to adopt from a purebred rescue group.

Most of all, we need to stop the shaming and blaming.

What do you think? Lay it on me in the comments, flames and all. I’ve got my asbestos suit on!

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