Buying a show cat

When you purchase a cat from a reputable breeder who is active in the showing community, you should get a cat from a line whose ancestors were judged as to how well they met the standards of the breed, and which has been part of a program designed to breed healthy and robust examples of the breed in question.

Buying a kitten is an important and long term commitment so you want to choose a breeder that has the best interests of the cat, their breed and you in mind.

A reputable breeder will be registered with TICA and perhaps their breed club, for example with Bengals a breeder might be a member of TIBCS, both organizations have a Code of Ethics.

Helpful Hints For Newbies

Those of us who have been around awhile have often wished to be 28 again with all the knowledge we now have at 48! WOW!,  I for one would love that opportunity! This wish is often made in the cat fancy as well; however, I have never seen it fulfilled!

Once an individual has made up their mind to breed pedigreed cats, there is no turning back. Many will make the most common mistakes and many thousands of dollars will be spent.

The average stay in the cat fancy is five years

The Romance of Being A Cat Breeder

Some of the most expensive errors are said to be incurred through poor feline husbandry practices. Very often, an unrealistic and perhaps glamorous picture has been visualized by the wannabee breeder. They have high hopes and may quickly become disappointed by the many obstacles they encounter including never getting back what they had anticipated. This is not suggesting that we lower our expectations; but that we conduct more research prior to beginning a breeding program.

Do Your Homework Before You Buy A Cat

Purchase books and attend cat shows.Look at the cats and talk to exhibitors. Hopefully, you will come across a good mentor as this can save you those mega bucks we will keep referring to as well as the many headaches that come about. TICA is in the early stages of developing a mentor program especially for new folks so keep up to date as it develops.

A quote from a breeder:

"I think some of our most expensive errors are made in the beginning by buying the wrong cats.  I've found that most breeders have to spay and/or place the first cats they buy because they start out with poor quality and too many of those. I've always advised people to buy one cat, show it for a year and then breed it. During that year you will learn more about type, how to groom and possibly the most important thing – who are the honest, trust-worthy breeders. Paying a big price definitely does not guarantee you a good kitten!"

"Breeding cats does not come about easily. Both the cat & dog fancy are known to be a rich man’s hobby. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of time, money and dedication to raise cats so keep this in consideration.  For anyone serious about entering the cat fancy as a breeder, I cannot stress enough the importance of taking every opportunity to learn all that is humanly possible concerning the breed which they intend to work with. Do not expect quick results because it takes more than a lifetime to consume it all. I know of breeders that have been working with the same breed for more than 30 years and even they don’t know everything --yet! So be patient, listen and be willing to learn. "

Another breeder writes:

"Newbies have a choice in the matter. They don’t have to buy the first cat that is offered to them. This is a hobby that rests very much on REPUTATION.  Newbies are free to ask around and find out about past dealings. As with most things in life, a tiny bit of caution goes a long way."

"Please don’t think that we don't want to trust newbies with a top cat. We really do WANT to, but few have ever approached us with a firm breeding plan and a real understanding of what our cats have to offer (or don't have to offer)  it’s not that we have some set-in-stone rule about not placing whole cats with newbies. The truth is, we don’t place show cats with anyone who does not have goals and reasonable expectations- newbies or otherwise."


Many reputable breeders will specialize in one specific color or pattern class. Be cautious of any breeder that is working with or advertises to have every color/pattern. One cannot specialize in every color/pattern as this requires housing a large number of cats. Unfortunately, there are breeders that often advertise in this manner and will prey on newbies. It’s an old saying but an apt one; jack of all trades, master of none

It Ain't Easy

Another thought to keep in mind is that the average mortality rate for pedigree kittens is very high and cats are considered the more difficult of all animals to raise in captivity

Making Money

Anyone who expects to make a profit selling kittens is dreaming. Breeding by inexperienced individuals with little or no knowledge of feline husbandry is detrimental to any breed. Reproducing kittens for re-sale purposes only defines a kitty-mill.

Each breeding should be planned with the standard in mind and a desire to produce cats that meet the standard. The individual should be keeping and showing some of the offspring that he/she is producing; without showing they have no idea what their lines can produce or how they might develop.  

Size alone does not define a kitty mill operation. They vary from several breeding cats to hundreds. It is the objectives of the breeding program that is the concern. Anytime a profit is the sole motivator then often times corners must be cut and that includes feline husbandry practices such as poor medical care and poor quality of cats used in the breeding program. With this in mind, any individual that breeds should find a way to be involved in showing their cats if at all possible.

The Codes of Ethics of The International Cat Association (TICA) are:

Any kitten or cat sold as a pet/companion will be sold under the following conditions:

  • I will guarantee that the kitten/cat is in good health at the time of sale.
  • I will urge the purchaser to have the kitten/cat examined by the purchaser’s own veterinarian within a few days of purchase to confirm its good health.
  • I will require that the kitten be spayed or neutered NO LATER THAN 12 months of age and not be allowed to produce any offspring.
  • I will explain to the purchaser the dangers of an outdoor environment.
  • I will provide a written sales agreement that describes all the terms of the sale. I will abide by my own sales agreement.
  • I will provide the TICA registration application form and/or pedigree for the kitten/cat ONLY after I have received written evidence from a licensed veterinarian that the kitten/cat has been altered.
  • I will encourage the purchaser to contact me if the purchaser has any questions and I will respond in a timely manner.
  • I will not release a kitten until it has been inoculated against the following: Panleukopenia, Feline Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus. I also may choose to give other vaccinations.

As responsible hobby breeders, we should only be producing enough kittens that we have time to care for, show and suitably place. Ideally, the kittens are reserved before the parents are bred.

Backyard breeder types and kitty mill-ers are a hobby breeder’s worst nightmare and a tremendous threat to our hobby’s very existence because anti breeder organizations such as PETA cannot (or will not) identify a good breeder from a bad one. We have no identifying marks on our forehead (or anywhere for that matter!); therefore, we are all clumped into one huge clump and classified as breeders

Be a Responsible Breeder

 Due to the often misleading policies of anti-breeder organizations, we need to not only practice but also demonstrate responsible breeding through all stages and at all times. This includes finding suitable homes for every kitten that we produce whether they are going to a pet home, a wannabee breeder or an established breeder and we must be willing to wait for as long as that takes.

One would certainly not consider handing a wannabee doctor a set of tools, instruct him to perform heart surgery and expect good results. That would be absurd. We all know that there are many years of training and preparation ahead for such a career. As serious hobby breeders, we should manage our catteries responsibly and with a very high standard. If we don’t, that privilege will eventually be taken away from us without our having any say in the matter.

A Cat Breeder Writes:

"Showing as an alter is the newbies' best friend. I might try to offer newbies a nice retired cat to show as an alter for very little, IF they agree to find a mentor to help them and show. *Sadly, few actually take me up on the offer. They seem to think they will be wasting their time showing a spayed or neutered cat. Most probably do buy a "dud" from someone who has no qualms about taking advantage of them. Some even insist that they don't need a mentor! "

Show An Alter  

Most reputable breeders agree that starting out in the alter class is the best place to start. Often times you are able to purchase a very nice show kitten or retired adult (altered) more reasonably priced than a  whole (unaltered) kitten or cat. Sometimes, the cat has already titled (earned a champion or grand champion title); therefore, is proven show quality. Other advantages in a situation such as this- the cat is already familiar with showing and consequently surely a pleasure to show and might teach the new exhibitor a few tricks!

Purchasing a kitten to show later in Alter class is okay too, especially if you happen to come across a reputable and experienced breeder who is willing and able to honestly evaluate their kittens. Even the most experienced breeder is sometimes disappointed with the development of a kitten. Often time breeders will show the kitten themselves before handing the kitten over to someone else. This tests the waters in order to determine if a questionable kitten is truly show worthy

Understand Show Quality

When we define show quality, this not only indicates that the kitten meets the standard but additionally, the kitten exhibits the show personality. This quality is just as crucial as the beauty part.

Unfortunately, the most beautiful kittens/cats don’t always agree with our intentions and protest the idea of being show kitties. It’s very disheartening to have produced that prized kitty that wants nothing to do with the show scene. They simply hate it, they want to be anywhere other than a show hall but preferably at home stretched out upon their satin pillows and perched in the window sill. Until this kitty gets his way, he/she will show you and everyone else in the show hall what he thinks of cat shows!

While we expect some nervousness for the first couple of shows, continual temper tantrums cannot be tolerated. A strange and loud show hall filled with unfamiliar sounds, people and other cats can easily intimate even the sweetest kitty.  Biting and swatting at judges are not only undesirable traits, but grounds for disqualification. If a cat is continually improving with each ring and each day, give the kitten time to come around, but if it is worse and worse every ring and every day, then it is perhaps time to reconsider if kitty should show or not.

Judges may use their own discretion by refusing to judge any cat with questionable or aggressive behavior. This is a good policy. A wise exhibitor will not knowingly present a kitten/cat demonstrating these behaviors; nonetheless, we cannot always predict what an animal will do. If you see your cat continually protesting, there is nothing else to do but withdraw the kitten/cat from the show ring.

On the other hand, if the kitten enjoys the shows then you will have just as much fun showing her off as she will have putting on the Ritz. There will be 4 months to show in kitten class before moving on to Alter class at 8 months of age. To me the fun is in the TICA motto: Fun, Felines and Friendship. Again, the exhibitor has plenty of time to show their cat, see other cats and learn. The exhibitor now has opportunity to test the waters and see if they really enjoy showing. Also to get a feel of what breed, color and look is preferred. Once that preference has been determined and you’ve been bitten by the show bug, hopefully you will soon be on your way to a serious and responsible breeding program


So You Want To Be A Breeder

You love your pedigreed cat, and you know other people would as well. She’s got a beautiful coat, brilliant green eyes, an a great temperament.   But before you begin imagining the adorable kittens you could breed and sell, it’s important to learn about the reality of becoming a cat breeder.

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