Before You Get Started:
What Are Realistic Expectations in the Cat Fancy?
Written by Willa Rogers Hawke, CFA Allbreed Judge
Roger’s Heights Cattery
So you’ve got a pedigreed cat that you purchased from a reputable breeder and now you’re thinking of showing and breeding. After all, what can be more fun than cuddly kittens to play with and being surrounded by beautiful cats?
On the surface it seems like a wonderful idea, and possibly you are the type of person whose lifestyle is such that you can do this. However, before you rush out and buy yourself a few breeding cats and dive head first into this activity, there are some things to be considered. Forewarned is forearmed.
What Are My Short Versus Long Term Goals?
It is important to understand what it is you are hoping to accomplish. Are you planning a litter or are you on a mission to become a major breeder in your chosen breed? Or do you even know how you feel about this? An honest answer to this question will guide you into knowing how many cats you should consider owning.
What may start out as a simple idea of having a litter of adorable kittens around the house once a year involves cages, daily cleaning at least twice a day, daily feeding at least twice a day and a host of other commitments (such as space) besides the time and effort that will be required to keep the health and sanitation of your beloved animals up to proper standards.
You will also need to decide whether or not you need your own stud cat. Many experienced breeders would discourage you from owning your own stud cat. Keep in mind that stud cats require separate housing, additional cleaning and extra attention.
What About Time and Money?
The care and maintenance of breeding animals is always significantly more than expected! That’s axiomatic and you need to be aware of that before you start. The time involved in sanitation and odor control is significant and is ongoing – there are no holidays from this.
When you are away at shows or for business, you need to make arrangements for the cats to be cared for properly. If you have kittens at these times, the need for extra, qualified help is even more critical. Diet and exercise are of paramount importance to the health and well being of your cats, and these come at a price.
Veterinary bills are directly proportional to the number of cats (and kittens) that you have. Even the healthiest of cats need ongoing veterinary care and examinations, and this is especially true of breeding cats and young kittens. Are you in a position to make this kind of financial commitment to your hobby?
Where Do Family Commitments Fit In?
Is the interest to breed cats yours alone or is it a hobby that you share with your husband, wife, significant other, children, etc? Breeding and showing cats can be a wonderful hobby for a family, but the shared interest has to be there to start. Don’t make the mistake of expecting everyone to share your own enthusiasm – especially when there is work to be done.
You’re going to need help and unless they have the same interest level you do, that help might not be as forthcoming as you would like. Consider this carefully and make sure that everyone involved is willing to make the commitment with you before taking the plunge. You’ll be grateful for their help and support if you get it.
Consider also that if they don’t share your interest, the time away from home at shows and the time spent caring for the cats could infringe on the family.
What About Emotional Stress and Strain?
Raising cats is not dissimilar to the stresses we all endure with raising children. We want the best for our kids/cats. We want them to be healthy and well adjusted, and we want them to represent us in the finest possible way. It’s only natural. And in a perfect world that is precisely what happens. However, our cats sometimes get ill or fail to have the kittens we were expecting or hoping for, don’t always show themselves to their best advantage in the judging ring, or a host of other things which are part and parcel to the show/breeding experience. Are you prepared for this additional stress? Can you accept the reality that sometimes things will not go as you believe they should or hoped they would – or downright expected they would?
Only you can answer these questions honestly. Only you can know whether or not you can make these commitments genuinely and openly. If you can and you decide to press forward, the reward for accomplishing your goal will more than compensate you for the negative aspects I’ve mentioned. Breeding a top winning example of your chosen breed will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment that will more than compensate you for the hours of stress, hard work and financial burden you have invested.
When you do achieve that goal – it doesn’t get any better.