If you’re looking to get a purebred or pedigree pet, your best option is to find a well-reputed breeder. There are multiple breeders out there; however, you must know how to identify who can provide you with the healthiest pets.
Breeders are the bridge between you and your future pet and will continue to be a source of help for many years. It is crucial to do your research and find the right breeder for you. Make a list of breeders in your area, talk to them, visit the cattery, and ask questions. Chose a breeder, not the first available kitten!
There are 3 simple steps to keep in mind that will find you the best responsible cat breeder and bring you closer to your dream pet. These tips will prevent you from getting scammed or end up with an unhealthy pet.
Table of Contents
STEP 1. Make a list of local breeders
Your first step should be to make a list of all the Siberian cats breeders in your area.
- Start with the registries. Two of the largest association in Canada and the US are The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA). Keep in mind that not all breeders would appear on the listing so you might want to do more research. Here are the links to their websites:
- Look at social media and search online. Facebook is popular and many breeders have their own page. Many breeders have websites now. There are many groups and websites online where adoring pet buyers talk about their experience with breeders and their cats. They can help refer you to a recommended breeder. These reviews will give you an idea regarding the behavior and upbringing of the kittens they purchased. Try different wording when you search, though. Look through their website and see what information they have available.
After you make a list, do your research on their reputation and responses from their buyers. Looking at reviews will help you make the decision on which breeders to cross off your list.
STEP 2. Identify a Responsible Breeder
After you made a list of breeders, it’s important to identify a responsible one. Many people look at the cute pictures of a kitten and do not care where it comes from. Unfortunately, this approach is more likely to lead to future heartbreak. A responsible breeder is knowledgeable about the breed, understands genetics, familiar with his breeding lines, aware of health conditions specific to Siberians and breeds to better the breed. He or she is honest and open. Here are some tips on how to identify responsible breeders:
- Are they registered with any of the big associations, such as TICA or CFA? Ask for a certificate of cattery registration.
- Do they show their cats? Showing breeding cats is an important part of being a responsible breeder. Independent and knowledgeable judges examine a cat and determine how well he or she adhere to the Siberian standards. If a breeder wants to better the breed, he or she must be aware of the strength and weaknesses of each of their breeding cats and plan breeding pairs accordingly. The result is high-quality kittens! However, be aware of a breeder who seems to be more interested in collecting trophies than the cats themselves.
- How many breeding males and females do they have? Too many cats are a red flag! It is not physically possible to provide all cats and kittens with regular attention and playtime, regardless of space and living conditions.
- Are males allowed to roam free with females? The males should be separated from females to avoid unplanned pregnancies and possible inbreeding. Some breeders house their males in foster homes. Some have a separate quarter for males. A male living with females without any limitations is a red flag!
- How many litters do you have at the same time? One litter is ideal. Two is acceptable. If there are three or more litters simultaneously, the kittens will be lacking attention and not well socialized.
- Do they have kittens available all the time? Siberians are a popular breed and most reputable breeders have waitlists. The wait time varies and sometimes a kitten becomes unexpectedly available (examples are people are waiting for a specific color or gender or decide to postpone due to vacation). However, stay away from a breeder who always has kittens available. Most likely they have a hard time placing their kittens, producing too many litters, or are scammers.
- Can they answer specific questions about the breed, lineage, genetics, health, etc? If they avoid it, or mumble and scramble to get the answer, they do not know it well enough. Ask them about kitten colors that a specific male and female can produce (for example, to produce a red girl kitten, a father must be red). Ask them when they can tell kittens’ genders. Experienced breeders can tell if it is a boy or a girl from birth.
- Do they test their breeding cats for genetic diseases? If they do not test but tell you that they know their cats and everyone is healthy, walk away! They can be breeding cats with genetic conditions that will not manifest until a cat is older. By that time, he or she would produce many kittens that can be possibly affected. The most common and important testing is for PK deficiency, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM testing is done by a certified cardiologist via echocardiogram. Ask if a breeder routinely tests for FIV/FeLV. These are common viruses and can spread through the whole cattery. Cats with confirmed positive FeLV/FIV tests should not be bred.
- Ask about written contracts and health guarantees. A written contract is a must. It should list the name and address of the cattery as well a specify rights and responsibilities of both a breeder and an owner. Many reputable breeders offer a health guarantee. Usually, it covers genetic defects for 2 to 5 years. Ask if FIP is covered under the contract. FIP is an infectious disease that partly caused by a faulty immune response to a virus. Breeders who cover FIP are sure of their lines and are taking responsibility for their offspring.
- Are the kittens spayed and neutered prior to leaving? Responsible breeders will not allow intact kittens out of their house. The research proved that early spaying and neutering are easier for kittens and have fewer complications. Good breeders will take the responsibility of neutering/spaying and all risks associated with it.
- Do they screen potential owners? Generally, the breeder will give a great deal of importance regarding who their loved animal will go to. Good breeders will ask you many questions about your living situation, your family, and your daily life. He or she insists that if for some reason the cat is no longer wanted, that it will be returned back. If you get a sense that the breeder is too keen on selling their cat to you, this may be a sign to find other options.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Most breeders are passionate about what they do and will take time to answer your questions. Also, ask for proof – copies of pedigree, vet records, genetic testing results, and others.
STEP 3. Visit the cattery
This is where you trust your gut feeling. When meeting with the breeder for the first time, keep an eye out for many things. Look around the house and the living condition of the cats. Are they caged up? Are their living conditions sanitary and acceptable? Talk to the breeders regarding their experience. How long have they been in the business? Do the cats and kittens look healthy? Look if their eyes are weepy, have runny noses, and matted fur.
Keep in mind that most breeders have cats and kittens in their own homes and not everyone is comfortable inviting strangers inside. Most breeders would not allow people until kittens are over 8 weeks and have the first set of vaccines to prevent kittens from getting sick and reduce stress for a momma-cat. Consider alternative means of communication then – Skype or Zoom meetings, videos, and photos.
Asking well thought out questions is essential. If you sense that the breeder is not as willing to provide the information you ask for, it might hint for you to steer clear. Visiting breeders and getting firsthand experience is the best way to rule out any sketchy sellers.
Key Points to Responsible Breeders
- The breeder is registered, with TICA, CFA or other big cat registry association
- Kittens stay with the breeder at least until 12 weeks
- Kittens are vaccinated twice, usually at 8 and 12 weeks
- Kittens are spayed and neutered prior to leaving, or the contract specifies this requirement
- There is a signed written contract with specific terms and conditions
- Breeder is providing a health guarantee, including coverage for FIP
- Breeder has a waiting list and does not breed without securing homes for future kittens
- Breeding cats are tested for genetic diseases and viruses
- Limited number of cats in the house
- Males and females should be separated
- Females are not being bred more often than 3 times in 2 years
- No more than 2 litters at the same time
- Kittens are raised in the house and have been handed by number of people to ensure proper socialization
- Cats and kittens are fed high quality diet. You can read about it in our article “The best diet for Siberians”.
Key Points to Backyard Breeder
- Allow kittens to leave before 12 weeks. They will claim that kittens are ready because they are fully weaned and litter trained. These breeders are not aware of importance of socialization period that last until kittens are 12 weeks or even older
- No genetic testing or testing for viruses. They usually claim that their lines are healthy and no testing is needed
- Advertise Siberians as non allergenic breed. Often backyard breeders claim they are themselves are highly allergic to cats and have no symptoms to their Siberians. It might be true but it does not mean Siberians does not produce any allergens and that you will not react to a Siberian. There is no such think as non allergenic cat. Please read about Siberians and allergies in our article, “Are Siberians hypoallergenic?”
- Have multiple breeds, beside Siberian
- Sell mixed-breed kittens
- Have multiple litters at the same time
- Breed close relatives, such as father and daughter, brother and sister, etc.
- Always have available kittens
- No contract and usually sale is “no strings attached”
- Sell sick kittens. It is possible for a kitten to get sick. They are not much different from human babies in this regard. However, the responsible breeder will not release a kitten until it is healthy again.
- Cheaper price. Do not search for cheaper costs or alternatives. Kitty mills produce adorable kittens at low prices but the added risks of multiple health and behaviour problems, which will ultimately lead to heartbreak and a lot of medical expenses. Hence why a registered, well reputed breeder should be your main target.
These are a few important tips to be aware of when making the decision where to purchase your Siberian kitten from. Finding the right breeder for you is the first step, before finding your perfect kitten. When selecting your breeder, do as much research as you can, ask questions and express your concerns. Remember you are choosing a companion for many years!