Registered vs Backyard Cat Breeders

Registered breeders vs backyard breeders can be a very emotive subject for cat lovers.  What are the differences between the two and is anyone whose cat has had a litter of kittens a backyard breeder?

Registered breeders vs backyard breeders can be a very emotive subject for cat lovers.  What are the differences between the two and is anyone whose cat has had a litter of kittens a backyard breeder?

Registered breeder:

The term registered breeder denotes that a person is a member of one of the numerous cat registering bodies with Australia.  Being a member of a club does not automatically make you a registered breeder.  Registered breeders have a cattery prefix or suffix to identify themselves and registered their cats using these names.  They only breed purebred cats according to the recognised standards set out by their registering club. All cats are registered and have registration papers.  Registered breeders should adhere to the rules and regulations of their clubs concerning the keeping and selling of their cats.

Backyard breeder:

The term backyard breeder denotes a person who breeds cats and is not a member of a cat registering body and does not have a cattery prefix.  They may have purebred or domestic cats.  If they have purebred cats, their cats may have originally come from a registered breeder who sold the kittens as pet only without papers, expecting the new owners to have the kittens desexed.  They might have been given a kitten by a friend and decided they want to have kittens of their own. Or, in some cases, they see cat breeding as a way to make money, because they see lots of kittens in pet shops selling for high prices.  To these people, cats are a commodity, not an animal.

Difference between registered and backyard breeders

Registered Breeder Backyard Breeder
Belongs to a cat club. Does not belong to a cat club.
Breeds only registered purebred cats of the same breed. Breeds any type of cat.
Breeds to improve their breed. Breeds for money or love of cats.
Knows about the genetic problems of their breed and works to eliminate them from the breed. Has little or no knowledge of any genetic problems and puts any two cats together.
Is knowledgeable about possible health problems and seeks veterinary advice as soon as required. Has little or no knowledge of health problems and does not take a sick cat to a vet either out of ignorance or to save money.
Screens potential new owners and tries to match the kitten/cat with the best home. Sells to anyone who pays the asking price.
Gives out health, vaccination and historical information on the kitten/cat at the time of sale. Is always available to the new owners for information, advice, etc. Sells the kittens/cats with no information or assistance to the new owners.
Takes back or assists in rehoming a kitten/cat that has been previously sold if the need arises. Does not want to know about the kitten/cat after it has gone to its’ new home.

Other differences

Some registered breeders own pet shops and sell their own kittens in their shops.  Other registered breeders do sell to pet shops.  Not every cat registering body has rules that bar their members from selling their kittens this way. The rules of cat councils prohibit the sale of kittens under 10 weeks of age.   Backyard breeders will sell kittens to pet shops at eight weeks.  Where someone sells their kittens has little to do with their status as a cat breeder.

Not every non-registered breeder is a backyard breeder.  There is another type of breeder who falls between these two categories.  This is the breeder who once registered with a cat club, but for whatever reason decided not to continue their membership.  They still have registered cats and may breed only one or two litters a year and they have the knowledge gained while a member of a registered club.   They cannot be called a registered breeder, but neither are they backyard breeders churning out kittens for the pet market.

There is also the person who, due to ignorance, lets their female cat have a litter.  This may happen because they do not have her desexed before she comes into heat.

Early desexing

Early desexing (from 7 weeks of age) is a topic of great debate between breeders, rescue organisations, and vets.  Advocates for early altering believe it contributes to reducing the number of kittens and cats in shelters.  Advocates against it believe that it subjects the kittens to various risks due to their physical immaturity.  It is true that the vast majority of backyard breeders sell their kittens entire, many registered breeders do as well.  The difference is that most registered breeders sell with a desexing contract that is signed by both parties when the kitten is sold.

If you only want a purebred as a pet, why should you care?

Buying from a backyard breeder supports the unchecked breeding of animals. These breeders have no authority to guide them and no rules and guidelines to follow. This means they can do as they please, regardless of the impact on their breeding animals.

By supporting this kind of industry, it fills the population with un-registered purebreds who can potentially carry genetic diseases which will continue to affect future generations.

Pet owners have almost no comeback if a cat they purchase from a backyard breeder becomes sick shortly after adoption or is found to carry a genetic disorder.

You’re on your own if anything goes wrong.

Key points

  • Registered breeders improve their breed for the good of the cat.
  • Backyard breeders improve their bank balance to the detriment of the cat.
  • A kitten from a registered breeder will have a health guarantee.
  • Registered breeders will help with advice during the period the kitten is transitioning to its new home.
  • Many registered breeders will be willing to take back a cat they have bred if circumstances change.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio