Here is another “hidden expense” of breeding. Let’s say I see an exceptional kitten in a litter. She looks like the perfect kitten – sweet, soft and cuddly. That really is pretty much all you can tell when they are little balls of fur. I might watch her for the first few months of her life trying to decide if she is destined to be bred but while I am doing that I am also making a commitment to her. Not every cat who can have kittens should have kittens. I have a number of spayed females who will never be bred and have never been bred. One just had an ugly meow. Another was too small. Both would have made great pets and to be honest they do make great pets for my family but they will never produce any income. Their care and feeding is another part of the cost of breeding. The same is true of a pair of neutered Apricot Smoke toms I have.
Kittens That Cannot Be Sold
I cannot think of a proper way to say it but not all pets can be sold. If a kitten is born that does not physically prosper it cannot and should not be sold. Still it eats and has other needs. These may include expensive vet bills. So for a breeder caring for unsalable babies is another “business expense” most people do not think of when they complain of the price of a purebred pet.
Not Every Cat Should Be Bred
grooming, time, attention and the hard work of caring for multiple animals beyond what a normal person would feel comfortable with.
It also means you baby’s mother is not going to spend the rest of her life getting knocked up every 6 months. Yes, in the wild cats do breed every year but they also die young but would you want to pop out baby after baby until your body collapses from the effort? So why buy a kitten from someone who will mistreat its parent? Breeding females need vacations. They need a loving home when they grow old. Admittedly males are quite happy to “do their part” pretty much indefinitely but they too can only breed so long and so often or you end up with too many kittens carrying the same genes. So after a while, everyone gets neutered. That is when you see who loves their pets and who just owns breeding stock.
their furry beauties. So the toms live on the far side of the house where they have their own man caves. That is another thing I should point out. They cannot live together either. Nope, there is no such thing as a kitty frat house. They each have their own space because if they don’t then they will fight and cause one another serious injury.
What you do want to buy is a kitten that was born into a loving home with a caring family nurturing it. That takes space if you want to breed seriously. Oh, one tom and a couple of females might seem like enough but if you want genetic diversity so that you do not turn out sickly kittens you need space. Our cattery occupies a large portion of our huge old farm house. To be honest when my sons joined the military and my late husband passed away I was very tempted to sell this old place. After all what do you do with 8 bedrooms and 5 ½ baths, well except scrub toilets all day. I decided I wanted to breed beautiful animals to share the joy they give me with others but let’s face it upkeep on a house big enough to breed properly and the wear and tear caused by kittens who have not yet learned their manners is not cheap. Then there is the heat, air conditioning and cost of keeping the place clean. Yes, I do provide air conditioning for my cats in the summer and heat in the winter. There is a big difference between the cost of raising kittens in a barn and raising them in a home.
Do You Really Need That Much Room?
Siberians are wonderful, loving cats who normally enjoy communal life but communal living is not good for kittens. It spreads disease. Every mother and her babies need a place of their own. This is especially true when they are very young. Also, you cannot just tuck a box full of kittens in the corner and hope for the best. I see a lot of catteries talk about raising kittens “under foot”. The wording makes me cringe. Throughout my home there are rooms with screen doors that have the screen replaced with wire mesh. This allows the tiny babies to romp and play while still being exposed to the sights and sounds of family life. We use these rooms. My daughter loves to play in them but they are “kitten zones” where you know to watch where you step and what you leave out. They are also shoe free zones where you walk in stocking feet. Not just to avoid tracking in dirt and germs but because if by some chance a tiny ball of fur does zip beneath your feet you will feel it before you crush it.
So Let’s Talk Kitty Litter and Vet’s Bills
How often do you change your kitty litter? No I am not talking about how often you scoop out the poop. I mean how many times a week do you empty the box entirely and scrub it out? We do it every day and we do every litterbox when we do it. Mind blowing isn’t it when you consider the number of litter boxes needed when you have not just your cats but their kittens as well. That adds up not just in time but also in litter, rubber gloves, dust masks and physical effort.
Retired Cats and Cats On Vacation
Before we get into the cost of taking care of an individual cat let’s talk about what happens when a cat grows old. Do you remember that lowlife breeding cats in cages in his barn or backyard? What do you think happens when his cats get too old to breed? Either he breeds them to death or he tosses them aside when they cannot serve his ends any longer. Pretty disgusting isn’t it? Yet when you complain that the price a reputable breeder asks for a kitten or puppy is too high you are forgetting the breeder has to support that baby’s mother and father for the rest of their lives. That means food, litter, toys, vet bills,
Then there are the toms. I love my boys but folks you need to know unneutered toms stink to high heaven. They are also noisy. Sure an unneutered tom was not a trial back in the days when people let their cats wander in the yard, road and alleyways behind their homes. Then they did their courting outside but they also got sick, run over and were attacked by dogs and other animals. Besides the fact that the great outdoors is not safe it is a germy place. You don’t want to buy sick kittens and I don’t want to have my darlings get sick so that means the toms live their lives inside. However, I don’t want to smell the lovely scent of their pungent urine when they spray to attract the females. (Yes, an intact tom will do that and do it often.) I also do not want to try to go to sleep as their croon love songs to
generic vet care. You are in charge of advertising, customer relations and endless files of information. You are a web designer, copy writer, photographer of small furry things that never sit still long enough to take a decent photo, you are the janitor, the delivery room nurse and all the rest rolled into one. So yes, you had better be passionate about it and you will never receive the full understanding of anyone but another breeder for the sheer level of work involved but you also have to do more than love animals. You have to love them in an organized professional manner because you are the one in charge of making sure everyone is taken care of on a daily basis.
That translates into fees. Show fees. Accountant’s fees. Lawyer’s fees for writing contracts. Advertising fees. Vet’s bills. Dues for memberships in TICA. Fees to register kittens. Sales tax. Mechanic’s bills on vehicles used for picking up food, taking kittens to the vet and delivering them to their new homes. The list goes on and on.
So Why Do It?
I guess the answer is the same as for everyone else… it’s what I do. I love the chaos and insanity of my life. I love my cats. I love meeting new people who are passionate about them. I love that moment when a litter is being born and I am looking at these tiny little beings who I have helped create. I love what I do.
Then there is the food. Do you feed wet or dry cat food? Is it cheap or expensive? We feed mostly wet food which is more expensive but we also know it saves the cats from developing urinary tract infections later in life. Sure we give them some dry too because we want the kittens to be comfortable with both sorts of food because we know you might want to feed dry food. Also we know our cats require high quality food because they are making babies. Cheap kibble means unhealthy kittens and mothers who cannot make enough milk. Breeding means you spend a small fortune on cat food each month.
I know you understand that your kitten needs to eat and poop but what about the cleaning expenses for the house. Oh, I know we all clean house but we don’t all have a cattery in our house and let me tell you it is very different. When you are breeding cats you reach a critical mass where you either spend a lot of time cleaning or you turn into someone off of the animal hoarder shows. Every day there are litter boxes, water bowls, food bowls, floors and surfaces to scrub. My time has value and it comes at a price but it is far cheaper than buying a sick animal because someone did not bother to keep things clean.
Then there are the vet bills. Shots, worming and tests for your kitten make sense up front but what about mom and dad? What about the older animals? Their vet bills have to be paid too so that adds up quickly and it is part of the expense of breeding your beautiful new kitten.
Let’s not forget about grooming and cuddling. That is another time hungry activity when you are talking about owning a cattery. I am lucky. Siberian Forest Cats do not require that much grooming but they are very social creatures and each one of them wants to be held and cuddled. How can a mother cat raise kittens to be good pets unless she is treated like a beloved pet? It is even more important that each and every kitten receive lots of love and attention in its formative months so that they will be friendly outgoing pets.
You Must Be Getting Rich
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I might be. Words, after all, are free – its pets that take upkeep. Oh I know what you are thinking – how much does a bag of litter and another bag of cat food cost? So as a point of pride let me explain where the money goes.
A Roof Over Our Heads
There are horrible, despicable people who raise cats in tiny little cages out in the weather or drafty barns. You do not want the kittens they provide. Why? First because you are perpetuating animal cruelty. Second because if a kitten is not properly socialized during the first part of its life you will never make a loving pet out of it.
I laugh when breeder friends say breeding is a passion not a business. Breeding is a passion AND a business. Seriously, I do not care if you make a profit or go in the hole consistently breeding is a business. I say this because if it is to be done correctly it must be done in a professional manner. There are endless records to keep on each animal so you can remember who needs what shot when and you don’t run out of food or other necessities. You need to budget time and money. You need to understand genetics, taxes,