** I have been asked if breeders can use this page for their websites. It can be as long as it is copied without changes and credit is given to me to CitizenKat Sphynx and I give written permission **
Sphynx breeders need to have a concern for - Health (scanning), Temperament (breeding carefully and socialization), Type (showing a reasonable amount of time) and, of course, care about the pet buyer.
This page was made especially for those that do not like to read long articles, but really want the low-down on how to determine is someone is a good breeder. I have a longer article on my "Available" page
Please be careful where you get your kitten from. Some breeders have low prices and they are easy to spot as kitten mills, others still have high prices and are STILL kitten mills.
HERE IS A QUICK LIST OF IMPORTANT TIPS:
1.) DO THE CATS LOOK HEALTHY? - Even on websites, look at the cats carefully. Photoshop exists so it is not the end all, be all. It is best to meet cats in person and see them with your own eyes. Check for cleanliness - ears, body, nails. Check the eyes, do they look clear without third eyelid showing? Check the nose for any signs of a cold. I cannot tell you how many cats I see on websites where I can see the backbones. This is not a healthy cat if you can visibly see the backbone. When visiting in person, check the eyes, nose and cleanliness of the cats. Again, look at the weight.
2.) DNA HEALTH TESTING: Is the breeder doing everything possible to ensure there are not diseases? There are many DNA tests for various diseases. These are reasonably priced and therefore there is little excuse not to test. All breeding foundation cats should be tested for these diseases. The best part is, once a breeder has tested the foundation and any new additions, and if the disease profile is clear, then that breeder does not have to continue to test as all offspring are clear then.
Some examples of the disease tests are:
These are the links to some of the places you can test at:
UC DAVIS: http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/cat/
CAT DNA TEST: http://www.catdnatest.org/
3.) REGULAR HCM SCANNING - This scanning should be done every 12-18 months. It should be done on breeding cats is not a perfect tool, but it is the best we have right now. This must be combined with careful pedigree research and time watching the pedigree over many generations. Unfortunately, HCM is a genetic disease in all cats and most breeders will encounter it. Just because a breeder has cats that get HCM, does not make them 'bad' or not reputable. It is the actions they take to change the course of their breeding program that define them. If the problem crops up, see what actions the breeder takes to mitigate this issue. Are they timely with the information? Are they sending actual reports? Some breeders only scan random groups, not all each year because they claim they cannot afford to scan. This is a sketchy practice and hard to determine if a breeder is doing this.
4.) SPAY/NEUTER - Your kitten should be spayed or neutered before you get it. There are no good excuses - 25 years of studies show early altering in cats is safe and highly effective way to prevent many issues such as marking, cancers, etc. You can read about how successful this has been by the nationally accredited association WINN and Dr. Susan Little.
5.) SHOWING - If your breeder is not showing in an accredited association - CFA (Cat Fancier's Association), TICA, CCA (in USA and Canada) and most the cats are not titled, that is classic backyard breeding/kitten mill. A dedicated breeder shows their cats to show it is a good example of the breed. Titles are not everything, and not required for every cat, however reputable breeders seek to have these achievements. The shows are a great tool for learning how to breed better cats. Many have excuses for not showing, but it is not acceptable if you are going to be a reputable breeder.
**** A note - Many know that in the the dog world - the title of "Champion" title in AKC is quite an accomplishment. This is not true in the show cat world. The title of Champion means very little in the cat world. The equivalent of Champion in Dogs is "Grand Champion" and higher. This is what good breeders are striving to produce and breed.
6.) WRITTEN CONTRACT - This is necessary for your kitten. It is good to have your contract in writing and is recommended by reputable associations. While no single breeder can guarantee the length of life or health of a cat, your breeder should be there for you in the event you run into issues. This is what differentiates the good from the bad. Many pet buyers expect their cats to be perfect and without fault. We all hope for that - but it is not a realistic expectation. However a good breeder will be there to "make it right" for you. This includes taking back a cat if you can no longer care for it.
7.) NUMBER OF CATS KEPT BY BREEDER- Cats are not pack animals like dogs are and they are stressed if they are kept in large numbers. Stress means more sickness, less human contact and so forth. Sphynx are extremely social animals and therefore need even more attention than most cats which is another reason I strongly believe in keeping reasonable numbers. They are my pets first and must be loved as such.
8.) SOCIALIZATION - The number one most important advice for this is to visit the breeder in person.
Cats, especially Sphynx are extremely social and need to live like pets. Just because a place is clean and large, does not mean it is an acceptable environment. Are they kept in a basement? A garage? A separate room? A separate building? Any one of these can be just like jail. They can also be, except separate building in my opinion, finished to be a suitable place for cats to live if you feel the breeder is spending a suitable amount of time with the kittens and cats. For example: My boys are kept in a separate bedroom in order to maintain breeding integrity however they come out at night with their stud pants.
Those same areas can also be and usually are the opposite. Look to see if the conditions are crowded. Are the stud cages around queening cages? Too many cats in one area? Were cheap materials that cannot really be cleaned used? I once saw a breeder show on social media proudly a breeding cages that was 5x3x6 with 7 adult cats in it. To her that was acceptable, to me that is not. Another personal example: Seeing cage after cage with many cats living together like livestock is not acceptable but it may be for the next person. Each person has a different level of what is acceptable. A pet buyer should look to him or herself to determine what is acceptable. The pet buyer needs to look at the entire picture and to ensure the proper amount of time the breeder spends socializing their cats and kittens and that the cats are kept with good low stress conditions. Remember, Sphynx are extremely social that need a lot of attention.
9.) MUTANT BREEDS - If breeder is breeding illegal outcross breeds such as "Elf Cats", "Dwelf Cats" or any other thing, these are fad breeds. They are not recognized in Championship in any reputable association.
Only one association accepts these for registration only/experimental status, however, they are NOT a Champion breed. Most fad breeds fall to the wayside. Some of these breeders are telling pet buyers they are accepted or recognized by an association. This is not true. People who are working on new viable breeds do so in a respectable honest fashion. I personally do not agree with this against and strive to maintain and preserve the Sphynx breed as it is.
Anyone can enter anything they want in experimental breed status (as these breeds are entered as). Unfortunately TICA's current rules allow for this. What is true is that many of these fad "breeds" are in the experimental breed or "new trait" status. You can check the list of actual Championship breeds here on the association websites:
So where does this leave the me in my search for a Sphynx?
Unfortunately, this minimizes the pool of breeders that you should purchase your kitten from. Maybe 5%-10%. This is true in all breeds - dogs, cats, horses. It is not easy to find a good breeder or be tempted by less expensive prices. Please do not support those that do not breed properly.
There are breeders that do ALL the above and I can highly recommend if I am not close to you. Please contact me for information about these breeders. I have known these people for at least a couple of years, I have seen their cats healthy at the shows, they scan, and they treat their pet buyers with respect and really want to better the breed!!!
Copyright (©) Citizenkat Sphynx, 2012.
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