Unfortunately, we aren't able to provide beautiful, healthy and well socialised kittens to every potential pet owner that requests it, so if we can't, what should you be looking for? We breed quality and not quantity and pour lots of our love, time and energy into every single kitten we produce. Sadly, not every breeder is like this. There are many scammers around who will take your money and disappear, there are also many Backyard Breeders around who cut corners, don't test the parents, don't vaccinate, don't socialise their kittens and basically churn them out on a regular basis. Mums are often overbred and exhausted and their kittens often become ill and sadly sometimes pass away.
So how do you ensure that you are buying from a reputable breeder and not one of these BYB's or scammers? Read on, and we will give you lots of information, what to ask, what to look for and how to avoid buying a kitten that isn't happy / healthy.
First of all, it may be a good idea to read our "Cheap Kittens" page! If you are looking at buying a Ragdoll kitten that costs £100s less than the rest of the kittens advertised, please don't - I absolutely guarantee you that there will be a reasonfor this - and it will not be good. If you read the above page, you will see that we make quite a substantial loss on every kitten that we adopt to new families. We do things properly, they get the best upbringing, veterinary care, food, litter and they get our time - lots of it. We breed because we love it - we adore the breed, we love bringing up babies and we love the looks of delight on the new owners' faces when they collect their long awaited kitten - this all comes at a cost though!
The responsibility of finding a good breeder lies with YOU and it is so important. This kitten will be part of your family and hopefully be with you around 15 years, so please do take the time to research thoroughly and be patient. An ethical breeder will welcome questions and will be able to answer any question you may have for them. No question is a stupid question!
What do I look for in a breeder?
A reputable breeder will be able to show you proof of specific health checks done on their breeding cats before they are bred. Examples in the Ragdoll breed are PKD & HCM DNA tests and also echocardiograms on the hearts to check for heart disease . You must know which problems are likely to occur in your breed and what checks should be done and check the paperwork. That is why researching the breed(s) that interest you is SO important.
A reputable breeder will provide a lifetime “take back” guarantee and will require that you return the cat or get approval for a new home if you cannot keep him. Good breeders do everything in their power to prevent their cats from winding up in a rescue or on the streets or even given away to someone who may be totally unsuitable. A quality breeder will require that if you must ever give up the cat, he / she MUST go back to the breeder or to a new home the breeder has screened.
WARNING: Don’t just take the breeder’s word on this get a “take back” clause in writing.
A reputable breeder will require a written (or on-line) application from you and to build a relationship with you prior to you adopting a kitten from them. Good breeders put a tremendous amount of work into their cats and kittens. They care deeply about their animals and will not to sell them to “just anyone.” Good breeders know from experience what kind of homes are likely to be the very best for the kittens they have produced. Good breeders will require a written application and will screen YOU to make sure that you can provide a proper home, lifestyle and finances to properly care for your new kitten.
WARNING: A breeder that will sell a cat to you without asking LOTS of questions, does not care about you or the animals.
A reputable breeder makes sure you know the breed’s temperament and needs - good and bad. All breeds have special characteristics. A reputable breeder makes sure you understand the traits of the breed. Our cats MUST be kept as an indoor cat, and must always be on a secure harness or inside a secure run or garden. They should let you know the pros and cons of owning a Ragdoll.
WARNING: If a breeder starts to sound like a used-car salesman, telling you only the good things about the cats and refusing to talk about the bad ones, find another breeder.
A reputable breeder will provide a written contract with specific requirements and health guarantees. Your signature on a well written contract with health guarantees, a spay/neuter requirement (if not already early neutered) for “pet quality kittens,” and specific recommendations for onward care is always required by quality breeders when you buy a kitten.
WARNING: If the breeder guarantees health for a short period of time like a few days or weeks then you are NOT dealing with a quality breeder.
A reputable breeder will provide a written health record for your kitten and give you their pedigree papers. This information should include any health problems he has had, the date and kind of each vaccination he got, and the dates of worming / flea treatments and drug that was used. The breeders vet will give the breeder this information and having it in writing makes it much more likely that your kitten has received the care he needs. The pedigree papers should be from a registering body like TICA, FiFE, GCCF, LOOF etc and these are proof that you have bought a pedigree kitten and not a very expensive cross breed!
WARNING: If the breeder just writes some information on a scrap of paper off the top of their head, the record is NOT accurate and probably won't even be real.
A reputable breeder carefully plans and has a waiting list for each litter. You will need to be patient and wait for your kitten. Quality breeders usually breed only when they have enough qualified buyers for the number of kittens likely to be produced from a breeding. You will most likely be put on a waiting list if the breeders feels you are qualified to purchase one of the kittens.
WARNING: If you are not patient and want to rush out and get a kitten, any kitten from anywhere, you will most likely end up with a kitten from a disreputable or back yard breeder.
A reputable breeder will invite you to their home to meet them. You will have an opportunity to meet the parents of the kitten and observe the conditions in which the animals are kept. The atmosphere should be clean, warm, healthy and friendly. THERE SHOULD BE NO "CAT SMELL"!!
WARNING: Never meet a breeder in a car park to “make the deal.” Quality breeders DO NOT operate this way.
A reputable breeder specialises in and will only offer one (or possibly two) breeds of cats. It takes a lot to get to know a breed and the cats’ heritage, needs, requirements, temperament and health. Quality breeders take this work very seriously. It is very difficult for one person to be a “specialist” in many breeds.
WARNING: Back yard breeders will breed any animals they think will “sell.” They often breed more than one breed and may even be dealing in more than one species (cats and dogs, for example).
A reputable breeder will socialise the kittens - they will be happy and confident by the time it is time for the potential new owners to visit them. The kittens will be accustomed to people and a home environment and consistently using the litter tray.
WARNING: Be very wary of kittens that are kept in isolated environments away from people and normal experiences they would have once they “go home” with you. Isolated kittens will probably not be socialized and are likely to be nervous and perhaps withdrawn from people.
A reputable breeder will NEVER allow you to take a kitten before it is AT LEAST 13 weeks old - all registering bodies insist on this and it is better for the kitten. The kittens age should be verified on vaccination records and contract provided by the breeder. A good breeder knows that a kitten learns many of its “life skills” from his / her mom and litter mates in the very early stages of life. The difference between a well adjusted social kitten and a fearful one can be determined by a few additional weeks spent in the security of the litter.
WARNING: Back Yard Breeders see their animals as a “cash crop” and therefore will want to get the money in their hands as soon as possible and will sell kittens way before they should be leaving their litter. Studies have shown that cats taken from their litter too early are more susceptible to behavior and health problems.
A reputable breeder will be accessible. He or she will give you his/her phone contacts. Quality breeders will invite you to call or email them if you have any questions or problems with your kitten. They will return your calls when you leave a message. You will know where they live and have visited the place where the adults and kittens live.
WARNING: If the breeder is difficult to find or is elusive about his/her operation, location or contact information DO NOT buy from him/her. You need to have a breeder who will be available should you have questions or problems.
A reputable breeder will have kittens that are (and look) healthy. They will be chunky, their eyes will be clear and bright, their noses will be clean as will their back ends. If the house smells or the litter trays are overflowing or have diarrhea in or the kittens are quiet and withdrawn or have red, sore looking eyes, they're sneezing, scared of their own shadows - please walk away. The number of people who come to us after they have lost kittens to various conditions due to poor breeding practices is frightening (hence this page)! There is no excuse for not bringing up kittens properly and ensuring they remain happy, clean and healthy!
Questions to ask the breeder
If a breeder is genuine and has nothing to hide, they will be more than happy / able to answer the following questions. Make a list before you go, as when you get there and see the beautiful kittens, they may well go out of your head!
Which registering body is the kitten registered with?
A pedigree kitten should be registered with one of the recognised registering body - in UK that will be either TICA, GCCF or FiFE. If you go to their website, you should be able to find the breeders' prefix (cattery name) on there - this will show that they are registered with this regstering body. Do not accept breeders saying that pets don't need to be registered - ALL pedigree kittens should be registered. This is your guarantee that the kitten you are buying is a pure breed and not a cross breed. Even pets that will not be shown, should come with registration papers.
Request to see the parents registration papers.
This will prove that the parents are registered as pure breed Ragdolls and ensure that the paperwork also shows that they are allowed to be bred from (in TICA it will say "not for breeding if they were bought as pets and in GCCF, all breeding cats will be registered as active)!
Have any of the kittens had any health problems?
Try to find out when the kittens in the litter had health checks, or if they have been treated by the vet for any reason. If your kitten has been checked or received any treatment, the breeder should provide details of anything abnormal that the vet may have noticed and don't be afraid to call their practice if you have any concerns. Breeders' vets should know them very well, as they visit regularly to ensure that all cats and kittens are healthy, happy and vaccinated etc.
Is the mother healthy - has she been vaccinated and wormed?
It is very important that the mother is healthy and up-to-date with her vaccinations and worming, otherwise, the kittens may be more at risk of suffering from health problems too.
How many litters, including this one, has the mother had and how long ago was her previous litter?
Pregnancy, birth, and rearing kittens all take a lot of energy and work for the mother. Avoid kittens from mothers who have had numerous litters, as this may be a sign that the breeder has expected too much from the mother, and may also mean that the care and the condition of the kitten could be affected.
Have the kittens been treated for worms or any other parasites, and have they had their first vaccinations?
Some kittens have worms, as they are commonly passed on to them from their mother's milk. To ensure the kittens are healthy, breeders should, with veterinary advice, make sure kittens are wormed. Avoid buying your kitten from a breeder who has not wormed their cats and kittens. Vaccinations are also very important to prevent certain deadly diseases. Kittens normally have their first vaccinations at around nine weeks old and then a second one at 12 weeks. If your kitten has been fully vaccinated already, the vet will have given them a vaccination certificate.
Where are the kittens kept and are they socialised?
For example, are they kept inside the house, or in a busy kitchen where people come and go and interact with the kittens? A kitten who hasn't met many people, or has lived in a quiet home, may become fearful of new people and different environments when they are older.
What length is their health guarantee and what does their contract cover?
Breeders should always offer a lengthy health guarantee. We are very happy to, as we have the utmost confidence in the health of our kittens and cats. A contract should protect the kitten and ask for the breeder to be contacted if for any reason the new owner is unable to keep the cat at any point in the future.
Ask the breeder for a couple references of kitten owners that they have sold within the past year. CONTACT them. Find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their cat and how any problems were handled. We have a Cattery Facebook page that all owners and prospective owners are invited to join, so they can get to 'meet' our past owners before they join the "Cwtchycats Family".
What is the breeder currently feeding the kitten?
A quality breeder will feed a good quality food to their kittens. Breeders that feed a poor quality diet, are likely doing it to cut costs, so beware! Regardless of what they are feeding, it is ideal to continue feeding the same food for at least the first few weeks at home to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances and additional stress ont he kitten. If you choose to change the diet, do it gradually.
What aftercare do they offer?
All reputable breeders will offer help and support for the lifetime of the kitten. The kittens should leave with a care sheet, vaccination certificate, pet insurance, Registration papers, a contract and health guarantee. We also offer a handmade bed that smells of 'home', and numerous toys that they have enjoyed prior to leaving for their new home plus samples of food - both wet and dry and litter that they are used to using.
To help you in your search, I have listed below the breeder sections in 2 of the main Cat Registering bodies - TICA & GCCF - plus 1 International and 2 UK Ragdoll breed clubs.
THIS IS NO GUARANTEE OF A REPUTABLE BREEDER however, so still ensure you ask lots of questions and find a breeder that YOU like and trust. You have a long relationship ahead of you with them, so this is really important! Good luck in your search, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
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