What is a registered cat breeder?
A registered cat breeder is a breeder who is a registered member of a valid cat association and breeds his or her cats to the breed standard. Also known as a cat council, a cat association is a registry of purebred cats such as the Cat Fanciers Association, The International Cat Association, ANCATS. It is the job of a cat council to maintain a register of pedigree cats, create, maintain and update breed standards for each registered cat breed, oversee the development of new cat breeds, organise and run cat shows with qualified cat judges and ensure all registered cat breeders follow a strict code of ethics.
The registered cat breeder has a prefix (cattery name), and all kittens produced by matings will carry this name. For example, if the breeder prefix is Sunnyside Cattery, the names of kittens produced from a mating may look like this:
- Sunnyside Calvin
- Sunnyside Norman
- Sunnyside Monty
- Sunnyside Melody
The registered breeder strives to produce kittens who are a great example of the breed by following the breed standard closely. The breed standard is a description of characteristics of each breed which includes the head (nose, eyes, ears, jaw), body conformation, coat colour and pattern.
How do I know if a breeder is registered?
The registered breeder should provide the name of the cat association they are registered with on their website and social media pages. If they are not online, or there is no information available, ask who they are registered with. Check that the breed association actually exists. Most cat associations will have a list of registered breeders on their website, if you do not see the name of the breeder, contact the cat association for confirmation.
When a litter of kittens is born, the breeder notifies the cat association who issue pedigrees. The pedigree certificate will have the name of the cat association at the top, along with the pedigree name of the kitten (using our example, Sunnyside Norman), along with the kitten’s sire (father), dam (mother), grandparents, great grandparents etc. This pedigree is the official paperwork that confirms the cat is purebred.
Registered vs backyard breeder
We know that a registered breeder is registered with a cat association. All members must abide by the Constitution, By-Laws and Code of Ethics set out by the cat council and failure to do so will result in expulsion. These regulations serve to ensure the integrity of the council and ensure breeders uphold the highest of standards with regards to the welfare and health of cats and kittens.
The backyard breeder is not a member of a cat association, his or her cats may or may not be purebred, but the kittens produced will not have a pedigree. They are not bound by the rules and regulations of a cat association and therefore there is no accountability.
How to find a registered cat breeder
Ordinarily, the recommendation would be to visit a local cat show and meet some cat breeders. This is not possible in many countries due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Contact cat associations and check their breeder listings, if you cannot find a breeder, contact the cat association, as they may still be able to recommend somebody.
Do your homework before choosing the right breeder. Ask a lot of questions and search the Internet for their name and/or prefix to look for reviews or negative press. While it is the job of the cat association to make sure their breeders are complying to their rules and regulations, sometimes one will slip through the cracks. Social media and Google reviews have made it easier to get feedback.
Facebook in particular has a lot of breed-specific groups for like-minded people. Many will include breeder listings, and/or allow people to ask for recommendations, but this will usually be via direct message to avoid a lawsuit if a bunch of people tell you to avoid XYZ cattery. Personal recommendation is a really good way to find a cat breeder.
It is a requirement of breeders in some states of Australia to provide a breeder identification (BIN) number or supply number when advertising online (breeder website, Facebook, Gumtree etc). This number helps prospective buyers to find out more information about the kitten or cat who is listed. Find out if the BIN is genuine by searching ‘breeder identification number search’, in your chosen web browser. People in NSW can use the following tool to input a BIN on this page.
How do I become a registered cat breeder?
Most cat breeders start off with a registered purebred show cat (or two) who they regularly exhibit at cat shows. Future breeders have so much to learn including genetics, breed standards, animal husbandry, infectious diseases, inherited diseases, mating and raising kittens. Exhibiting cats opens up the opportunity for mentorship, and most breeders are happy to take on a willing mentor. When selecting a purebred cat with the purpose of showing, let the breeder know in advance, so that he or she can sell you the best example of the litter. Not every kitten will make a show cat, some will have minor faults, which doesn’t detract from the cat or impact his or her health, but means they won’t fare well on the show bench.
Becoming a breeder is a slow process, once you are familiar with the breed, and feel confident starting out as a breeder, you will register a prefix with a cat association and buy a breeding cat (ie; a purebred cat who has not been desexed). Most breeders start out with one or two females and use the services of a stud (entire male cat) from another breeder for a fee.
Cat breeders are constantly learning, even those who have been breeding for years. Finding mentors and attending shows is the ideal way to establish yourself as a cat breeder.