So I tend to bang on about this...
ANYONE can get a registration number. All you have to do is pay the $75 breeding fee from DACO (or equivalent) and shazam, you're now a breeder!
If I had a dollar for every time someone said "Oh they're registered, so they're ethical". I'd be filthy rich.
Reputable breeding is SO much more than this.
There's lots of puzzle pieces that go towards being ethical, here's some below:
- Breed health testing - go HERE to see what's up for MC breeders.
- Kitten contracts - this protects me, you, and the kitten.
- Handling and socialising of kittens - it's more than just cuddles.
See the earlier section on how kittens are raised.
- Papers. Every single kitten is registered with GCSA and receives a pedigree. Papers aren't optional! It's a BYB practice to offer a cheaper option for unpapered kittens. Each litter is $10 to register, and a further $10 for each individual kitten. It's one of the cheapest aspects of breeding. I'll never skimp on this, and it often frustrates me that BYB's will claim extra 'profit' over something so inexpensive. I'm proud of their lines and to show our family tree!
- Building relationships with current and future kitten homes - I spend months on this, and I also have a group chat with most of our kitten families. I've spent over 2 years making sure this is a safe, non-judgemental space. We share updates, photos, adventures, fun stuff... but also the troublesome stuff... questions about anything and everything from injuries to illness and behavioural quirks. Often, if I can't answer, someone else will jump in for me.
- Taking back a kitten / cat if things don't work out - this is for the LIFE of the cat. The offspring of a reputable breeder will NEVER end up in a shelter situation. This includes behavioural issues, or life circumstances that we just can't plan for.
There are breeders around me that charge the same amount that I do....
Yet, they don't health test (some even say they do, can't offer proof, AND get mad when people call them out).
They don't provide lifetime support, they might not offer a pedigree, they'll sell to the first person with the money,
(or, and this is hideous, they'll tell a pet owner that their kitten died, keep the deposit, offer it to another breeder, often someone new and inexperienced, they won't offer mentorship or support to that breeder, creating a horrible backyard cycle).
People often tell me, well just raise your prices then? It's not that simple. My prices are carefully chosen (I've written a separate part about this) and they're based on MY program. Not anyone else's. The issue with jacking up prices is that it creates a shitty cycle, and you'll get to the point where people just can't afford or justify the higher price.
So my answer is, I won't up my price, but I will offer information about why this is happening. And hopefully this will help people make informed decisions.
Remember that hashtag that went around for a while #AdoptDontShop ??
It was well meaning but displaced.
It should be #adopt-or-shop-responsibly
You know how everyone says: "For every animal brought from a breeder, you're leaving/killing an animal in a shelter".
This isn't accurate. Hear me out. Why do animals end up in shelters?
They get dumped or surrendered for a multitude of reasons... behavioural problems, medical problems, or they grew up and weren't so cute anymore. A lot of people give puppies, kittens, or rabbits for christmas presents, and the recipient either wasn't ready, wasn't old enough, or the fit wasn't right for whatever reason.
Animals arrive at shelters because they're offspring of backyard breeders who were never accountable for them.
They sold the animal, washed their hands, and that was the end of it.
No education about breed traits.
No taking the animal back if things don't work out.
No health testing to reduce medical issues, and if shit pops up, again, no support.
One exception might be feral colony cats... but when you really think about the source, at some point in history, someone let their undesexed cat roam, it bred with another cat and *congratulations* you've now unlocked *exponential breeding cycle*
I grew up with stray trash cats (who are the best, by the way!). You know, the ones that just appeared on your doorstep one day, and yay, now you have a cat!
Actually, I think most of us grew up this way, and it's taken many years and generations for a culture shift ..... people are slowly realising that cats need to be contained, just the same as dogs. Cats go out and kill wildlife, they get lost, or run over, or bitten by snakes. They're so much safer indoors, or in proper outdoor enclosures. It keeps our wildlife safe, and the cats still get to enjoy the sunshine and various forms of enrichment. We don't let our dogs free roam, and this should be the same for cats too. Many of our kitten families also use harnesses, and they get to have outings which is really enriching.
So getting back to my original point.... If we *only ever* adopt shelter animals, we're supporting backyard breeders by proxy.
Read that again.
Shelter/rescue will always be important in our current world. So please adopt AND shop responsibly.
Some rescues are fronts for puppy or kitten mills, or they send out misleading information, or treat their staff like dirt, so yes, it's important to rescue responsibly too.
Instead of thinking: If you buy an animal from a breeder, it kills a shelter animal.
Adjust your thought to: For every animal you buy from a reputable breeder, this reduces the chances of an animal entering the shelter system.
The only way we can create change, is to be a part of the change. And this is why I became a breeder.