Mark Pennington

... Continued from homepage

When we bought our first pedigreed show cat we had no help. I studied the breed for two years. I studied pedigrees, talked to many breeders, many of them very clearly poorly educated about the breed- and a few who were obviously knowledgeable. Those who knowledgeable were not always helpful and many were downright unhelpful. There were a select few who knew the breed well, who understood the issues associated with breeding as well as the risks involved. Many of the less-reputable breeders with whom I spoke were happy to sell "breeding cats". They called them "show cats". I started asking myself basic questions like: “How does this person know this kitten is "show quality" when he/she doesn't show his/her cats?”

It was frustrating that the worst of the breeders to whom I spoke were willing to sell me any of their cats as a breeder but the best of the breeders I spoke to were very reluctant to sell me a breeding cat. I had to study a great deal more to understand this interesting dichotomy. Eventually I understood; why would a reputable breeder sell an unknown quantity, me, one of their best cats from his/her proven (shown and titled) cats, with sound genetic health? They are trying to better the breed. That’s a KEY concept. If an experienced, seasoned breeder is truly trying to better the breed, why would he or she sell a great cat - one the breeder could use to better the breed- to a beginning breeder? Why would those who were not focused on bettering the breed be willing to sell me any cat at all as a breeder? It's not a big leap to realize some breeders are about breeding and selling cats for money, not for the love of their breed.

Next, I discovered "cheap" cats do not equal "good" cats. This realization wasn’t about "show quality" versus "pet quality" either. It is a much deeper concept than that. A good cat means a cat bred by a breeder who cares about bettering the breed. This includes genetic health as well as beauty. It means genetic temperament as well as nice coats. It means there is a legacy in the breeders breeding program that they value, which means you are much more likely to have a good guarantee for your cat. It means you are more likely to have lifelong support for health and behavioral concerns. You are not just buying a cat; you are becoming part of a good breeder’s extended family!

Don’t make a purchase decision based on price; make a decision based on the lifetime commitment you are about to make. Choose a breeder who is dedicated to making the breed better, check references, and talk to others who have purchased a cat from the breeder. Educate yourself and make sound decisions based on a proven breeding program. You will be very glad you did!

-Mark Pennington (www.mystre.com)