So you want to become a cat breeder… now what?
by Carissa Altschul
Disclaimer: Any medical advice given in this article should be referenced with your vet before beginning treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect any official policy or position of the Cat Fanciers' Association or the Persian Breed Council.
The Next Generation and Beyond
If you have reached the point where you have raised your first litter or two successfully, maybe kept back a kitten or two, you are now moving into the “not quite a newbie” time as a breeder. The next few years will pass by faster than you think, and soon your original breeding cats are going to start getting to the age when you need to think about retiring them.
Ideally, it’s best to retire a breeder cat at or before 5 years of age. It’s much easier to find them new homes when they are 5 years or younger. They are probably certainly capable of breeding more years; but you have to consider your ability to care for them (and your other cats) should you keep them in your program past the age of 5.
As a courtesy, you should also offer your foundation cats back to the breeder before you neuter or spay them. Sometimes the breeder might want them back; usually they do not. It’s important to make the offer, however, as courtesy is something you can never give enough to other people in the fancy. If you continually treat others with courtesy, it will come back you.
I don’t mention keeping these foundation cats (or any other cats you retire from your breeding program) because it’s far too tempting to keep them all. Often, we feel a obligation to give our cats a forever home ourselves. We have of course established emotional bonds with our cats, and letting them go is not easy to consider. However, consider this: If you keep them all, how many is too many? How many cats can you truly take care of properly? For each breeder, this number is different. When you first start breeding, 3 cats might be the extent of your ability. As you learn and become more experienced, you might find you can handle a few more, then a few more. But eventually, those few more become too many. Be honest with yourself and your limits. This is another time when your mentor breeder is important. Allow them to visit, and often. Things you might not have noticed as lacking or important an experienced breeder might see and be able to bring to your attention. A good rule to remember once you have reached a number you feel comfortable with is: in order to keep a kitten, you must place another cat. In order to purchase an outcross, you must choose a cat that will be sold. Maintaining a program within your limits is essential to the health and well-being of not just your cats, but also for you.