Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Cat Breeder
So you have decided you want to be a cat breeder.
You love cats & kittens. Especially Bengals.
How fantastic would it be to have the odd litter of kittens now & then.
You will get to play with the kittens while they are super cute and then sell them on to their new families and make some money too. A genuine win-win situation . . .
Well it’s not like that in real life. There is a lot more to becoming a cat breeder.
Although, well done for recognising that you need to do some research.
Here are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you decide to become a cat breeder.
Why do You Want to Breed Cats?
The first question you should ask is why? Be honest. Is it as for a hobby or do you see this as a potential business? Or is it just for your love of your chosen Bengals? Have you always owned cats and you see it as a natural progression from being a pet owner to breeder? Are you hoping to breed a cat that makes you famous in the show world, as a breeder? Maybe you just love kittens. These reasons are something you need to decide for yourself.
If you do start breeding just be sure you know what your reason is and is your reason to breed cats strong enough to see you through the tough times? Are you ready for the emotional rollercoaster that lies ahead? Are you able to support the financial burden of becoming a cat breeder? If not save yourself some pain, heartache and money.
Find a breeder to help you?
There is a lot to consider when deciding on a breeder to help if you want to start breeding. Here are a few that you need to think about.
How easy or difficult is it to find somebody willing to sell you your first breeding girl?
Are there suitable stud cats available to you within reasonable travelling distance?
Is the breed popular with the public and is there a demand for kittens?
How many other people are breeding them and are they able to find homes for the kittens they breed?
Are there any major health issues you need to be aware of in the breed?
Will you get along with your mentor and do you have similar ideas on breeding?
Do you have any knowledge of the Bengals already?
Can You Afford to be a Bengal Cat Breeder?
Just in case you are under any illusions about cat breeding meaning you can make loads of money, let me explain a few harsh financial realities. The quick version is making money breeding cats is just never going to happen and here’s why.
First you have all the usual expenses of having cats such as food, cat litter, damage to furniture and extra cleaning materials but you are now going to need to budget for the following.
Stud cat fees, increased vet bills to cover extras such as blood tests, c-sections and poorly kittens. Then you have the essential kitten vaccinations, worming and neutering. Plus, advertising your kittens, a website, cat shows, the financial burden of all this is significant.
Make no mistake breeding cats is a bottomless money pit. Best case scenario is you pile in almost all of your cash, work like all night & day and if all goes to plan and a lot of luck you get some money back when you sell the kittens. Accept it, you are likely to make a loss. It is best to treat cat breeding as an expensive hobby then you won’t be disappointed. If you treat breeding cats as a quick money making scheme you are in for a rude awakening.
Do You Have the Spare Time to Breed Cats?
Cat breeding takes up a lot of your free time. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful hobby but it completely takes over your life. Here is a quick list that you will need to make time for. The good news is the majority of them are pleasurable it’s just there are a lot of them.
Cuddles, stroking and play.
Preparing for cat shows.
Going to cat shows.
Learning about the breed and cats in general.
Visits to the vets.
Taking your girl to stud.
Taking time off work when kittens are due.
Potentially having to hand feed kittens.
Cleaning up after kittens.
Litter training kittens.
Advertising retired cats
Did I mention cleaning?
Updating your website. (Yes you will need one)
Maintaining your social media presence. (Yes you will need to be on Facebook)
Interviewing potential new kitten families.
Giving a lifetimes support to your past kitten families.
Do You Really Need to Become an Expert to Breed Cats?
I guess it depends on what you want out of the hobby and what you think it takes to be an expert. If you want to breed winning show cats that are fantastic examples of the breed & contribute to the breed then yes, you do. If you just want to breed the odd litter of kittens purely for the enjoyment of watching them grow then the answer is still yes. The reason is. To consistently breed quality winning cats you are not going to do it by accident. You need to know the standard of points inside out. You need to be able to see a show winning cat for yourself without having to pile the kittens in a basket to drive miles for a second opinion.
You need to know your pedigree. What works well together and what doesn’t. Not just your own pedigrees but also other peoples too.
These aren’t skills you learn in five minutes. They take time, dedication & often years. You will also need to know what it takes to keep your cats and kittens healthy. The right food, which inoculations, how to prevent common feline health problems and not to mention the emotional well-being of your cats are all vital to keeping your cats healthy. The biggest reason I believe you need to become an expert is because the families that buy your kittens will rely on you. If they need someone to turn to if they are worried or have a problem with a cat you’ve bred then you need to be damn sure you have the answers. This is why you need to be an expert if you breed cats.
Can You Cope With Calling Queens?
Have you ever heard a female cat ‘calling’? this is the term cat breeders use when describing the noise a female cat makes when announcing to the world she is ready to become a mother. A better description would be like the hounds of hell have been released. A noise once heard never forgotten. And it doesn’t end with the screaming.
Once a girl decides she wants a boy if calling does not attract a mate she will often try a few more special techniques.
Don’t let anyone tell you that only the boys spray because they are either lying or deluded. Trust me girls will quite happily leave their scent around the house to attract a male anywhere and everywhere, including the toaster. If they don’t get their hearts desire and be taken off to meet the boy of their dreams then they will do their level best to escape and go for ‘a bit of rough’. Any tom cat will do, in fact the more the merrier. So be prepared to baton down the hatches and make sure your girl does not elope with nearest tom cat. With hormones rushing around the body often this can give your girl a bit of a delicate tummy. Never fear though as the vast majority of girls are not shy and will let you know they are feeling a bit icky by throwing up all over the house, usually the only bit of carpet you own and not the hard floor.
If you have a multi-cat household as most breeders do then you will also have to contend with hormone induced, sexually frustrated squabbling girls.
Oh yes, one more thing. One girl usually sets off the others, assuming of course they are not already in chorus, so if you are going to breed cats then you had best get some earplugs, forget being house proud and enjoy the new order of things.
Have You Considered What’s Involved Taking Your Cat to Stud?
Here are a few of the difficulties and financial implications that you need to be aware of. Keeping a stud cat is expensive. So if you are lucky enough to get a stud owner who allows you into stud then be prepared to pay a stud fee. Before you can take you queen you need to have her blood tested for feline leukaemia and feline AIDS. Both are fatal to cats. Any responsible stud owner will insist on your queen being tested. When you take a girl to stud then you should be prepared to leave her with the stud for a few days or even as much as a week. There is no guarantee that they will mate and even if they do there is also no guarantee your girl will be pregnant.
If the stud owner witnesses mating’s then the boy has done his job and a mating certificate is issued and a stud fee payable. If your girl is not pregnant then most stud owners will allow one free return mating. Remember though if you need to take your queen back for a repeat mating then it means another blood test and another set of travelling expenses. Plus of course the time it takes to drive there and back twice.
Sound like hard work? It is.
Are You Concerned About Damage to Your Home?
You need to know that from time to time your cats are going to trash your home.
If you are particularly house proud and can’t bear the thought of any damage happening . . . Then perhaps cat breeding is not for you. In fact I would go further and suggest that perhaps owning a cat is not for you. If you are still reading this then I guess you are probably not so terrified of a bit of damage. But how much is ‘a bit’?
You need to get used to your house being covered in cat hair. Oh yes, and your clothes to, even with a shorthair cat. Hope you don’t have any problems cleaning up the odd bit of cat poo when they miss the tray. Same goes for cat urine, except in the case of urine they did not miss the tray.. They deliberately chose not to use the tray in favour of your bed to claim ownership of their human or indeed they were spraying to mark their territory or to attract a mate. It would not be fair to neglect to mention your wall paper, curtains and upholstery. In short they are all fair game. Upholstery and wallpaper share the dubious honour of substitutes for a scratchy pole. Your curtains are for swinging off and occasionally peeing on. So get used to double the amount of cleaning, using twice the cleaning materials and overworked vacuum cleaners that can take no more punishment.
How Will You Find Homes for Your Kittens?
Well actually it is a lot harder than you think. You will need to have a website.
You also need to be on social media, in particular you need to be on Facebook. This is where your kitten buyers hang out. Additionally if your breed club or area club allow kitten adverts then place adverts there. Once you get some enquiries you need to vet the people as best you can and get rid of the obvious crazys. Believe me you are going to speak to a lot. You also need to watch out for scam artists and back yard breeders that want to use your kittens to breed with for financial gain.
It’s hard work vetting kitten buyers. You get better at it with experience. Your first step is to ask all the right questions. Also ask yourself are they asking you the right questions. Follow your instincts, you have them for a reason. One final thing regarding finding homes for your kittens. When it comes to the kittens actually leaving home will you be able to go through with saying goodbye? Many people can’t. I used to tell my children we were just borrowing them until they were ready to go to their new homes.
Are You Prepared for the Emotional Rollercoaster Ahead?
The sad fact about breeding any animal is that in addition to the huge amount of fun you are also in for a lot of heartache. Breeding and showing your cats will hopefully give you respect, new friends, a social life (admittedly only with other cat breeders), pride, a sense of achievement and of course the joy of owning and living with cats.
On the downside you will have to live with the financial burden of breeding and owning cats, dealing with squabbling cats, stress, worry, illness and ultimately your cats and kittens dying. Believe me all of the bad parts of cat breeding do take their toll. It’s not all sunshine and roses.
Finding the Answers
So now you know which questions to ask yourself it’s time to find some of the answers.
Look deep inside and be honest.
Are you breeding cats for the right reasons and are you up to the challenge?
And if you decide you are going to start breeding cats . . .
Enjoy the highs and keep your chin up when you hit the lows.
Most of all never forget ‘the reason’ why you started. Hang on to your reason.
Because if you ever forget or let go of it . . . It’s time to stop breeding.