HOW TO FIND A REPUTABLE BREEDER
People have asked me over the years what to look for when buying a Maine Coon kitten. With so much contradicting information out there, an extensive search can lead to confusion or frustration! This is why I added another link to my website:
What can be some of the signs of a good breeder?
There are just as many responsible as irresponsible breeders out there. Discernment is the key! Breeders certainly don't have to meet all the criteria below to be reputable! I am simply trying to give people some "clues" on what to look for:
* Breeder is at least registered with one registry CRUCIAL or several Associations DESIRABLE (preferrably with MCBFA also if an older Cattery). MCBFA has ceased and membership had to be earned.
* Breeder regularly tests for breed specific diseases (HCM, PKD, HD, also SMA in some lines) CRUCIAL
WARNING: Both the gene test and Color Doppler Echo Cardiogram are tools for HCM testing. However, the Color Doppler Echocardiogram/Colour Doppler Ultrasound, done by a cardiologist or feline heart specialist, is presently the ONLY fairly reliable form of HCM testing. The older the animal is at time of testing and the more generations are tested, the better! Oh, and yes, there can definitely be hip and heart problems in ALL pedigrees of the Maine Coon breed.
* Breeder shows his/her cats regularly or has past show experience. CRUCIAL to be able to breed according to standard.
* Facility pictures are openly shown on the homepage DESIRABLE
*Pictures and some information about the breeder and his/her family is DESIRABLE as you might want to see and know about whom you are potentially getting your kitten/cat from?
* Some of the pictures of kittens/cats on a homepage show the background ( the actual living space) DESIRABLE
*Breeder openly displays registered names and pedigrees of his/her cats on homepage, not just the "call names”. DESIRABLE as this can protect you from fraud.
* Cats are not kept in pens, except for birthing or introduction purposes. CRUCIAL
* Facility is not overpopulated CRUCIAL for health and well being. Overcrowding leads to stress. Stress often leads to disease. Overpopulated Catteries will usually not be able to pass TICA Cattery of Excellence with a good rating, unless cats are hidden during an inspection.
*Breeder lets you see their facility by appointment (or during pick-up of our kitten) DESIRABLE but please take into consideration that some breeders will not let you visit, in order to protect their Cattery from viruses and diseases.
* Cleanliness and hygiene in the facility are excellent CRUCIAL
*The majority of cats are friendly and outgoing CRUCIAL. If they aren’t the breeder could possibly breed with shy bloodlines or does not take the time to socialize the cats.
*Breeder’s concern is to provide a healthy, quality kitten, rather than following current colour trends and extremes. CRUCIAL
* Breeder has good communication skills. How do you expect to get proper after-care if communication is not satisfactory before the purchase? DESIRABLE
* Facility is Veterinary inspected DESIRABLE. Definitely! Why not?
*Breeder takes part in a voluntary responsible breeding program (CFA and TICA offer these) DESIRABLE
* Kittens and cats appear healthy, with nicely brushed coats, clear eyes/noses and well nourished CRUCIAL
*Breeder is transparent about potential problems or weaknesses in certain lines. Purebred doesn't mean “perfect”. Beware of "disease free or "free of genetic defects" catteries! Even though some breeders are able to produce *very* healthy kittens on a continuous basis, you likely aren't being told the truth if everything sounds just a little too perfect. CRUCIAL
* Matings are being done wisely, with keen knowledge of pedigrees, heterozygosity and potential issues in the lines. CRUCIAL!
* Breeder has responsible, somewhat outcrossed program in place (note: an "unrelated" pedigree over 4 generations can in reality be very inbred!!) CRUCIAL. Too much inbreeding will lower the immunity and produces irritability and stupidity in your kitten.
* Breeder makes a supplemented raw meat diet a large part of the cats'/kittens' diet. Believe it or not, this could potentially be CRUCIAL as it gives your kittens a great start in life.
* Breeder has a controlled amount of litters throughout the year and enough loving homes lined up for the kittens. CRUCIAL
* Breeder has experience,visible knowledge about the breed and also a real love and passion for the breed and his/her own cats CRUCIAL
* Kittens are checked by a veterinarian before they leave the breeder CRUCIAL
* Breeder wants to get to know a prospective buyer before selling a kitten CRUCIAL
* Breeder requires spaying/neutering before releasing the registration papers CRUCIAL
* Breeder has a written sales contract and health guarantee, asking you not to declaw the kitten or let the kitten go outside without supervision CRUCIAL
* Kittens are sold with registration papers, once proof of sterilization has taken place CRUCIAL
*Kittens are not released to their new homes before at least 12 weeks of age (better at 13-14 weeks or potentially older) CRUCIAL
* Breeder never sells to pet stores CRUCIAL
*Breeder never sells to strangers out of a cage or out of their car at a cat show CRUCIAL
*Breeder does not advertise on Kijiji, Craig’s list or similar platforms!! This is considered low standard (tacky) and usually a sign of too many kittens. DESIRABLE
* Breeder is able to provide excellent references. CRUCIAL
*Breeder does not have low prices. Breeder does not give cheap "deals' on Kittens. Kittens do not go on sale! Proper quality care and a responsible breeding program with ALL that is required would NOT allow an unusually low price. Chances are you pay for what you get or it’s a scam!
*Breeder does not charge outrageous amounts for fancy colours or certain traits as this is usually a reflection of their profit driven motives. CRUCIAL
*Breeder has at least a decade of breeding experience or is supervised by excellent mentors. CRUCIAL
Don't be fooled - backyard breeders and kitten mills can have very appealing webpages. They can be professionals in taking amazing, often heavily photoshopped and manipulated kitten pictures. You might never know who the parents really are. Some cats in the pedigree may have been tested * somewhat* for genetic problems but mostly only with a DNA test. Has the breeder him/herself lifted any finger to get their own breeding stock *properly* tested, meaning hearts by echocardiogram and also hips? The same goes with titles - let them show off those ribbons! Ask for proof of testing!!
Some newer breeders here in Canada have a heart of gold, a TRUE passion for our breed, a longing to be mentored and to do things properly. Blessings on them!
Having said this, MANY so called breeders are suddenly coming out of the wood works, recognizing a market niche, due to the latest developments of the pet industry. They often aim for expensive “rave colours” and overtypification, have no proper mentoring and literally are a disgrace to our beloved breed! Many other breeds of cats and dogs have been ruined by their kind.
Then there are scammers. Scammers steal pictures off of other websites and sometimes don’t even have cats! They can potentially take your money and run!
Long story short, just make sure to ask LOTS of questions before committing to a purchase. Search the internet and sign up with the “Maine Coon Canada” Facebook group for warnings adn reviews! (Careful there are two groups with that name). Search the “Breeder’s Black List” on Facebook.
There are further things to consider when buying a Maine Coon kitten, but this list above gives you a pretty good indication about some important details. Some of us have learnt to read between the lines when looking at webpages. Please do your homework before buying a kitten from a questionable place!
Oh and by the way..........There is an enormous difference between animal welfare organizations, which work for the humane treatment of animals, and animal rights organizations, which aim to completely end the use and ownership of animals. Just type in “the truth about peta” in your search engine and learn about them. Here’s a good one:
Any more questions? Ask away!