So you have decided to become a cat breeder.
You love cats. Especially kittens.
How wonderful it would be to have the odd litter of kittens now and again.
Unlike with children you can even sell your kittens as they get older.
You get to play with the kittens while they are really cute. Then sell them on to their new families.
A genuine win-win situation . . .
The thing is it’s not really like that in real life.
Sorry, that was me bursting your balloon.
There is actually a lot more to becoming a cat breeder. As you are reading this article I would like to congratulate you on passing the first test.
You recognised that you needed to do some research. (Seriously I mean it, well done.)
Here are just a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you decide to become a cat breeder.
Why do You Want to Breed Cats?
The first question you should ask yourself is why do you want to breed cats? Be honest with yourself.
Is it as a hobby or do you see this as a potential small business?
Or is it purely for your love of your chosen breed?
Have you always owned cats and you see it as a natural progression from pet owner to breeder?
Are you hoping to breed the next show stopper to grace the bench, a cat that champions your prefix and you as a breeder?
Maybe you just love kittens and want to surround yourself with them for years to come.
It’s not for me to tell you which are the good reasons and which are not. This is something you need to decide for yourself.
If you do start breeding though just be sure you know what your reason is.
Is your reason to breed cats strong enough to see you through the tough times? Are you ready for the emotional rollercoaster that lies ahead? Are you able to support the financial burden of becoming a cat breeder?
If not save yourself some pain, heartache and money.
Which Breed of Cat?
There is a lot to consider when deciding the breed of cat you want to start breeding. Here are a few that you need to think about.
- Which breed do you find attractive in both looks and temperament?
- How easy or difficult is it to find somebody willing to sell you your first breeding girl?
- Are there suitable stud cats available to you within a reasonable travelling distance?
- Is the breed popular with the public and is there a demand for kittens?
- How many other people are breeding them and are they able to find homes for the kittens they breed?
- Are there any major health issues you need to be aware of in the breed?
- Would you be able to find a mentor to help guide you when you first start breeding?
- Do you have any knowledge of the breed already?
All the questions above should help you decide on your chosen breed.
If I am honest I would say the most important one is the first one. You need to be able to say . . .
[pullquote align=”normal”]Yes, I find the breed attractive in both looks and temperament. [/pullquote]
Can You Afford to Be a Cat Breeder?
So just in case you are under any illusions about cat breeding being a way you can make some money I would like to explain a few of the harsh financial realities of being a cat breeder.
The quick version is making money by breeding cats is just never going to happen. Here’s why.
On top of the usual expenses of having cats such as food, cat litter, damage to furniture and extra cleaning materials you are now going to need to budget for the following.
Stud cat fees, increased vet bills to cover extras such as blood tests, c-sections and poorly kittens. Not to mention the expensive but essential kitten inoculations. Factor in the cost of advertising your kittens such as your own website or going to cat shows and the financial burden is significant.
Make no mistake cat breeding is a money pit. Best case scenario is you pile in loads of cash, work like a dog and if all goes to plan you get some money back when you sell the kittens. Accept the fact you are likely to make a loss.
Treat cat breeding as an expensive hobby and you will not be disappointed. Treat cat breeding as a quick money maker and you are in for a rude awakening.
Do You Have the Spare Time to Breed Cats?
Cat breeding takes up a lot of your free time.
Don’t get me wrong breeding cats is a wonderful hobby but it will take over your life. These might seem like strong words but you need to hear them as these are the facts.
Here is a quick list of essential tasks that you will need to have the time for. The good news is the majority of them are pleasurable. There are just a lot of them.
- Cuddles, stroking and play.
- Litter tray cleaning.
- Preparing for cat shows.
- Going to cat shows.
- Learning about the breed and cats in general.
- Visits to the vets.
- Taking your girl to stud.
- Taking time off work when kittens are due.
- Potentially having to hand feed kittens.
- Weaning kittens.
- Cleaning up after kittens.
- Litter training kittens.
- Advertising kittens.
- Updating your cat breeders website. (Yes you do need one)
- Maintaining your social media presence. (Yes you do need to be on Facebook)
- Interviewing potential new kitten families.
- Giving a lifetimes support to your past kitten families.
This list is not meant to cover everything. I am sure there are many other things that other veteran cat breeders could add to the list. (I would love to hear them in the comments below.)
Do You Really Need to Become an Expert to Breed Cats?
If you want to breed show winning cats that are beautiful examples of the breed and contribute to furthering the breed then the answer is yes. If you just want to breed the odd litter of kittens purely for the enjoyment of watching them grow then the answer is yes.
Okay I know I gave you two yes’s. Here’s why.
To consistently breed quality show winning cats you are not going to do it by accident.
You need to know your standard of points inside out. You need to be able to see a show winning cat for yourself without having to pile the kittens in a basket to drive fifty miles for a second opinion.
You need to know your pedigrees. What works well together and what doesn’t. Not just your own pedigrees but also other people’s.
These aren’t skills you learn in five minutes. They take time and dedication.
You will also need to know what it takes to keep your cats and kittens healthy. The right food, which inoculations, how to prevent common feline health problems and not to mention the emotional well-being of your cats are all vital to keeping your cats healthy.
In many ways you need to become a bit of a cat whisperer to truly understand your cats and kittens.
The biggest reason I believe you need to become an expert is because the families that take your kittens rely on you. If they need someone to turn to if they are worried or have a problem with a cat you’ve bred then you need to be damn sure you have the answers.
This is why you need to be an expert if you breed cats.
Can You Cope With Calling Girls?
So tell me have you ever heard a female cat ‘calling’? I use the term calling as this is the term we cat breeders use when describing the noise a female cat makes when announcing to the world she is ready to become a mother.
A better description would be screaming like a deranged banshee. A noise once heard never forgotten.
The best of it . . .
It doesn’t end with the screaming.
Once a girl decides she wants a boy if calling does not attract a mate she will often try a few more extra special seductive techniques.
If anyone tells you that only the boys spray then they are either lying or deluded. Trust me when I say that girls will quite happily leave their scent around the house to attract a male.
By the way when they have ‘the urge’ to reproduce . . . they are not that fussy who with either.
If they don’t get their hearts desire and be taken off to meet the boy of their dreams then they will do their level best to escape and go for ‘a bit of rough’. Any tom cat will do, in fact the more the merrier. So be prepared to baton down the hatches and make sure your girl does not elope with nearest tom cat.
With hormones rushing around the body often this can give your girl a bit of a delicate tummy. Never fear though as the vast majority of girls are not shy and will let you know they are feeling a bit icky by throwing up all over the house. (Read my rant about cat vomit further down the page)
If you have a multi-cat household as most breeders do then you will also have to contend with hormone induced, sexually frustrated squabbling girls.
Oh yes, last thing.
One girl usually follows the other, assuming of course they are not already in chorus, so if you are going to breed cats then you had best get some earplugs, forget being house proud and enjoy the new order of things.
Have You Considered What’s Involved Taking Your Cat to Stud?
I have written about what’s involved with taking your cat to stud before, but I think it is important to mention again. It really is something you need to consider if you are thinking about breeding cats.
Here are a few of the difficulties and financial implications that you need to be aware of.
Keeping a stud cat is expensive. So if you are lucky enough to get a stud owner to agree to allow you into stud then be prepared to pay a stud fee.
Before you can take you queen you need to have her blood tested for feline leukaemia and feline AIDS. Both are fatal to cats. Any responsible stud owner will insist on your queen being tested.
When you take a girl to stud then you should be prepared to leave her with the stud for a few days or even as much as a week. There is no guarantee that they will mate and even if they do there is also no guarantee your girl will be pregnant.
If the stud owner witnesses mating’s then the boy has done his job and a mating certificate is issued and a stud fee payable. If your girl is not pregnant then most stud owners will allow one free return mating.
Remember though if you need to take your queen back for a repeat mating then it means another blood test and another set of travelling expenses. Plus of course the time it takes to drive there and back twice.
Sound like hard work?
Are You Concerned About Damage to Your Home?
I think it’s only fair to let you know that from time to time your cats are going to trash your home.
If you are particularly house proud and can’t bear the thought of any damage happening . . .
Then perhaps cat breeding is not for you. In fact I would go further and suggest that perhaps owning a cat is not for you.
If you are still reading this then I guess you are probably not so terrified of a bit of damage. But how much is ‘a bit’?
You need to get used to your house being covered in cat hair. Oh yes, and your clothes to, even with a shorthair cat.
Hope you don’t have any problems cleaning up the odd bit of cat poo when they miss the tray. Same goes for cat urine, except in the case of urine they did not miss the tray. Oh no . . .
They deliberately chose not to use the tray in favour of your bed to claim ownership of their human or indeed they were spraying to mark their territory or to attract a mate.
Now here is one little chestnut that I must share with you. Forgive me if I start to rant but I need to get this one off my chest.
My cats sometimes like to vomit. I think they do this to show me they are feeling hormonal and in the mood for ‘some lovin’. Or perhaps it’s because they are unwell, pregnant, stressed and sometimes I am sure they do it just for the hell of it.
Now the thing is I soon cottoned on to the fact that part of owning cats and being a cat breeder was accepting the fact cats occasionally share the contents of the stomach with the floor. So I got rid of all my carpets and now have laminate floors.
I thought I was rather smart here and feeling rather smug decided that cleaning their offerings up would be much easier in future. How wrong I was . . .
They no longer like vomiting on the floor. It no longer gives them the same sense of satisfaction it once used to. It’s okay though my Siamese cats are very clever, they adapted.
They have now taken to hunting out any type of soft furnishing and making their deposits there. Oh yes, I said deposits. They never do less than three piles. Each offering on a separate cushion, bed, item of clothing or any other type of material that is difficult to clean.
They are truly talented in this endeavour.
Okay, rant about cat vomit over. But can I ask any cat breeders out there a quick question? Do your cats always throw up in three separate piles and also hunt out soft furnishings or is it just mine? (Let me know in the comments below)
It would not be fair to neglect to mention your wall paper, curtains and upholstery. In short they are all fair game.
Upholstery and wallpaper share the dubious honour of being scratch pole substitutes. Your curtains are for swinging off and occasionally peeing on.
So get used to double the amount of cleaning, using twice the cleaning materials and overworked vacuum cleaners that can take no more punishment.
Living with cats (especially breeding cats) is like living with a team of naughty four year old hooligans that are hell bent on mischief and mayhem.
How Will You Find Homes for Your Kittens?
So you have your first litter of kittens. Presuming all went well with the birth, weaning, litter training etc. you now need to find homes for your kittens. So how is this done?
Well actually it is a lot harder than you think.
I’ve covered the topic of finding homes for kittens in great detail before and you should check out that article. However I think it is worth quickly mentioning some of the key ways to advertise and the work involved to do so.
You will need to have a cat breeders website. For which you will need regular photos and updates, it’s not a case of set it up and then forget about it. There is a lot of work involved to run a successful breeders website.
You also need to be on social media, in particular you need to be on Facebook. This is where your kitten buyers hang out.
It’s also a good idea to advertise on websites such as Siamese Cat Breeder. Additionally, if your breed club or area club allow kitten adverts then place adverts there.
Once you get some enquiries you need to vet the people as best you can and get rid of the obvious lunatics. Believe me, you are going to speak to quite a few. You also need to watch out for crooks, scam artists and back yard breeders that want to use your kittens to breed with for financial gain (trust me this is not where you want to see your kittens end up).
It’s hard vetting kitten buyers. You get better at it with experience. Your first step is to ask all the right questions. Also, ask yourself are they asking you the right questions. Follow your gut instinct.
One final thing regarding finding homes for your kittens. When it comes to the kittens actually leaving home will you be able to go through with saying goodbye?
Many people can’t.
Are You Prepared for the Emotional Rollercoaster Ahead?
The sad fact about breeding cats is that in addition to the huge amount of fun that you can get from breeding. You are also in for a lot of heartaches.
Breeding and showing your cats will hopefully give you the respect of your peers, new friends, a social life (admittedly only with other cat breeders), pride, a sense of achievement and of course the joy of owning and living with cats.
On the downside, you will have to live with the financial burden of breeding and owning cats, dealing with squabbling cats, stress, worry, illness and ultimately your cats and kittens dying.
Believe me, all of the bad parts of cat breeding do take their toll. It’s not all sunshine and roses.
Finding the Answers
So now you know which questions to ask yourself it’s time to find some of the answers.
Much of the information you need to find the answers can be found in books and online – check out the breeders area here.
But before you check out these resources you need to look to yourself for the answers.
Look deep inside and be honest.
Are you breeding cats for the right reasons and are you up to the challenge?
And if you decide you are going to start breeding cats . . .
Enjoy the highs and keep your chin up when you hit the lows.
Most of all never forget ‘the your reason’ why you started.
Hang on to your reason.
Because if you ever forget or let go of it . . .
It’s time to stop breeding.