Choosing A Reputable Breeder
This is meant to simply help point out a few things to help you in your search for your new family member! Remember to still do your research and follow your instincts...if something doesn’t feel right, run the other way!
One important thing that a reputable breeder will have is a clearly written contract. This will include the health guarantee as well. This helps provide pet owners with confidence that the breeder will still be there for the kitten should something go wrong. It will often give clues about the breeder’s concern for their kittens; things such as asking that the kitten be offered back to them in case of rehoming and requiring that the kitten receive proper veterinarian care.
Not all breeders use these, but don’t let the fact you have to fill out a few questions deter you from contacting a breeder you are truly interested in. These forms often help the breeders to make sure you are prepared for a baby and to help match you with your perfect little one.
Every good breeder should be registered with at least one major cat association! This is non-negotiable! We are registered with TICA for all our cats. Our cattery is "Gobsgobblins". The only exception is our pure Serval kittens as they are not a domestic or hybrid cat breed. And yes, I know many pet owners don’t care about registration papers as they never plan to breed or show, but there are also important reasons for ensuring that you do receive those papers from your breeder. If a breeder doesn’t know anything about their bloodlines or worse lacks paperwork on their breeding cats, this is a huge red flag! Even if they explain it away by saying their family member lost the papers, or that they never planned to show so it didn’t matter...it does matter! If they don’t know their cats’ parents’ names, how can they know if those cats had health risks? How can they know they aren’t inbreeding very closely related cats, and what if both of those cats come from high risk lines? These are things that are signs of a responsible breeder! I have also seen breeders advertise that they are not registering their litter of kittens so they can discouny the price of their kittens...the cost to register a litter is $13. There is no excuse not to register! So be very cautious of a breeder that is offering a discount of several hundred dollars and claiming they are able to do it because they aren't spending that money to register the litter.
When I am looking at working with a new breeder, or possibly adopting from a breeder, one thing that is truly important to me is that the breeder has the kitten spayed or neutered prior to placement. I have worked with both Sphynx and Lykoi for many years and no reputable breeders allow any kittens to leave them intact! Some breeders of other cat breeds still do spay/neuter contracts where the pet owner is required to have the surgery completed and provide proof by a certain date. Unfortunately many dishonest people use this as a loophole to breed their pet. A pedigree kitten without papers can still sale for hundreds of dollars, and the temptation is too much for some people. Most reputable breeders choose to help protect their breed by having the sterilization done prior to the kitten leaving. Another benefit is that this gives the new family assurance that the kitten did great during the surgery and is ready to just come home and play, play, PLAY! This also prevents the cats from dealing with hormones, which often bring mood swings. Intact cats will often try to dart for the door to attempt to look for a mate (even at a very young age) and this puts them at risk of disease, accidental breedings, or being hit by a car. And of course having the surgery done prior to the kittens goign home saves the owners the money and stress of surgery. So it is a win, win, WIN!
A reputable breeder is there for support and often becomes a friend! Remember, the kittens belonged to the breeder first. We were the first to look into their eyes, we were the ones that watched like mother hens to make sure the babies gained weight and were healthy...and we want to know about our babies as they grow up. Silly stories, cute photos, and of course health concerns...these are all very important to a caring breeder!
A good breeder will not seem put out by your questions concerning the health and happiness of your kitten. I know from experience that sometimes it is hard to respond back right away, but I am always happy to answer questions asked by my kitten families...even if it seems silly to them! This is a sign to me that the new family is thinking ahead and looking out for their new baby.
You know how a sponge soaks up water? Well that is how a good breeder is when it comes to learning about health! Every year new discoveries are made about feline health. A reputable breeder will spend hours studying these to ensure they make the best decisions possible when mating their cats. Another thing they will do is follow the guidelines of health testing for issues within their breed...such as HCM scanning, FIV testing, FELV testing, PKD testing, as well as any disease tests available. There are also DNA color tests available...and if a breeder believes they are working with one of the colors that are seen less often (more rare), then they should make sure to do these tests to confirm color.
And one final thing...
If it seems too good to be true...it probably is! Savannah kittens have an adoption fee of $1000-15,000 (depending on what generation). If you find a kitten with a significantly lower adoption fee than what seems to be the average for the generation you have decided to purchase, you should be cautious! Over the years I have had so many families contact me for advice after adopting a cheap kitten only to end up with thousands in vet bills and the breeder just ignores them or disappears. I would love to tell you that if you adopt from a reputable breeder that your kitten will be perfect, and it will be all sunshine and roses...but that wouldn’t be honest. As hard as a breeder tries, there may be kittens that have an unexpected health or genetic issue arise. A reputable breeder will have done everything in their power to try to give every kitten an opportunity to live a perfect life...but sometimes things still happen. The main sign of a reputable breeder is if that breeder still sticks around if something goes wrong. And if it is an issue that was the fault of the breeder, then that breeder will take responsibility, instead of trying to find a way to blame the pet owner.