Gradient Strip
Grungy Paint Strip 3

The cost for a genuine purebred sometimes surprises people. The following articles explain the costs, what you get, and why they're worth it. 

Grungy Paint Strip 3
CAT FAMILY 3.png

Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Cat Breeder

You love your purebred kitty, and you know other people would as well. She’s got beautiful fur, clear eyes, an ideal disposition, and maybe she’s even won a show or two.   But before you begin imagining the adorable kittens you could breed and sell, it’s important to learn about the reality of becoming a cat breeder.

You Won’t Get Rich Breeding Cats

Becoming a cat breeder is more of a hobby than a smart career move. Because of the expenses required to keep up a cattery, all of the money you make from the sale of a litter of adorable kittens is likely to be taken up in medical bills, food, supplies, and other cat breeding costs.   Unfortunately, you may have noticed that this list of expenses does not include the cat breeder’s salary.

In fact, most breeders never break even.   You should never consider breeding a reliable income to survive on. You can theoretically support your cats and cat show activities by selling kittens, but don’t count on it. That’s why most breeders are hobbyists. And what an expensive hobby it is!

Become an Expert on Your Chosen Breed

You may know a lot about your cat:   her likes, dislikes, her favorite toys.   However, knowing the traits, potential health issues and temperament of your breed as a whole is very important toward becoming a reputable breeder with lots of knowledge.

It is important that you learn as much as you possibly can about your chosen breed before you think about opening your cattery. You need to be able to know about how to select foundation cats for your breed, paying special attention to bone structure, coat, and genetic history.   You need to be knowledgeable about the bloodlines you are looking at or hoping to use. Contacting many breeders and asking to talk about the breed, breeding in general and any tips or help they may offer will serve you well in establishing credibility and a useful network of people you can rely on for help and advice in the years to come.

A common suggestion for those interested in becoming a cat breeder is to actually purchase an altered cat and show him/her. This is for experience and to get a ‘taste’ of what it is like to be in the show halls, to prepare and groom your cat and see if you like it or if it’s something you want to do.

When it comes time to purchase a cat for breeding, don’t expect to just get any cat from any breeder. No one wants to sell a whole (unaltered) cat to an unknown person who has not even shown a cat before. It’s quite difficult to find a breeder willing to mentor new people and help them learn how to do things right, let alone give them tips and support. It’s very important to talk to people who are already well established, reputable breeders for your chosen breed. Let them know you want to learn, ask questions, a lot of them. And be open minded about showing a premier (altered) cat before starting to breed. It really is in your best interest.

Be Prepared to Devote a Lot of Time and Money

In order to be a first-rate cat breeder, you need to devote yourself full time to your cattery. Daily tasks such as cleaning, grooming and feeding will be not just an option, but mandatory in maintaining healthy cats and a healthy environment for your cats. In addition, you will need to consider that it will be quite likely you won’t be able to take vacations or make long-range plans. Sudden health issues, having pregnant cats or very young kittens, will likely derail any plans you will be able to make.

The expense of breeding cats is also a limiting factor for many people.  You will have the initial investment of purchasing cats with breeding rights and of setting up a proper cattery space.  Then there will be numerous health care expenses for your cats. An emergency C-section, for instance, can cost in the neighborhood of $1500+.  There are also expenses related to proper food, grooming, and general care.

Prepare Yourself for the Emotional Toll

While the time and money requirements are significant, many cat breeders find they are unable to handle the emotional toll. You must be prepared to see your cat die due to complications with giving birth or some other related concern. Kittens also frequently die or are born dead. Unfortunately, these are common issues to any cattery.

Another emotional hardship associated with breeding cats is figuring out what to do with the kittens you are unable to sell. You must be prepared to keep these kittens yourself or find homes for them.

An Expensive Hobby

In essence, cat breeding makes a rewarding, though very expensive, hobby.   It is not a good source of income, nor is it easy work.   Becoming a cat breeder consumes a great deal of time and money and is unlikely to provide any kind of return on investment for several years, if ever.

However, that said, the joys and rewards are many. Enjoying your gorgeous show cats every day, sharing them with others and the pride of having a winning cat at the cat shows (with pretty ribbons!) is something that simply can’t be explained without experiencing it for yourself.

For the inquisitive, this next article by Lynne Thomas breaks down the specific costs of breeding into their respective categories.

Illustrated Cat

The Real Costs of Cat Breeding

by Lynne Thomas

Jan 25, 2011

*Lynne Thomas is not affiliated with Arizona Cornish Rex and Sphynx or Rambunctious Cattery, but she's done an amazing job putting together all the breeding costs so people can understand what really goes into breeding. It's comprehensive and it might surprise you.    Thanks, Lynne!

Do you think that cat breeders charge too much for their purebred kittens? Do you think that you might like to start breeding cats for fun and profit?

Breeding Purebred Cats is rewarding but it’s a true labor of love, a hobby and not a business that makes money. To be a reputable breeder who sells the healthiest kittens, raised in the best possible environment, you may be interested to know the costs; not just the financial outlay but the cost in terms of the breeder’s time, effort, lack of sleep and heartache as well. This is not a joke. Everything listed here are legitimate and quite normal expenditures required to breed quality kittens. Cat breeding is not an endeavor for the faint of heart or the light of pocket.

  • FeLV/FIV testing for both Sire and Dam

  • Blood Type testing for both the male and the female

  • Travel: taking or shipping the queen to stud and the return fare

  • Stud Fee, usually the price of a pet kitten

  • Extra Food (3 times the amount of a cat’s normal diet)

  • Supplements for the Queen during the pregnancy and while nursing.

  • Extra feeding means extra cat litter. Lots of extra cat litter

  • Veterinary checkup and vaccination two weeks before the kittens are expected.

  • Possible complications at birth, e.g. caesarian, uterine inertia, hysteria, milk failure

  • A caesarean section at the emergency clinic will cost you more than you paid for your queen and the kittens aren’t likely to survive.  Sometimes your queen dies too.

FOR EVERY LITTER THE MOM CAT NEEDS
BEFORE THE KITTENS ARE BORN
  • To buy a queen, you probably need to spend 23 times the price of a pet kitten.

  • All the expense of raising a cat until she’s a year old [the age a cat can have litters] and can [be] bred.

  • Driving to the Airport or the Stud Owner’s house

  • Driving to the Vet and/or the Emergency Clinic

  • Lack of sleep for 7-10 days out of every month when the queen is in screaming season until she can be safely bred. Your family will complain and your neighbors might call the ASPCA

  • Extra cleaning and the cost to replace ruined things when the Queen sprays [when she's in heat] during her heats

  • Zero sleep for two or three days and nights in a row waiting for the kittens to be born

  • Time off work when kittens are expected. If the birthing is unsupervised, there will be kitten mortality in almost every litter. No time for friends or family when kittens are expected.

  • Registration of the litter and each blood typing [for each kitten]

  • Kitten milk replacer for a week when handrearing

  • Supplements

  • Veterinary treatment for common kitten ailments, e.g. swollen eyes, gastrointestinalupsets, lack of appetite

  • Special weaning formula for kittens at 35 weeks

  • Feeding kittens 3-4 times a day to weaning until they’re ready to leave

  • Even more extra cat litter for kittens.

  • Kittens’ litterboxes need changing and washing every two days.

  • Inoculation: Vaccines at 7 wks., 10wks., and 14 wks.

  • Rabies vaccine

  • Worming at 10 and at 12 weeks14 weeks

  • Spay or Neuter,

  • Veterinary check up for kitten (and cat)

  • Destruction [of things ]like antiques, vases, lamps, upholstery, torn curtains, etc.

  • Toys for kittens

  • Advertising

  • The cost of membership to breeder listing websites, business cards, pamphlets, flyers, magazine ads, yearbook ads….

FOR EVERY LITTER OF KITTENS

  • The emotional price of the grief you will suffer when kittens die.

  • The cost of a necropsy for every kitten that dies

  • When you breed kittens with inheritable genetic defects like Cardiomyopathy or Spasticity, you must go through the process of refunding money for the affected kittens.

  • When this happens, you will need to spay and neuter the parents that are producing the affected kittens, along with every cat from those lines. This has happened to me twice. Can you afford to start over?

  • Ringworm. Sooner or later you will get Ringworm in your cattery and you will have to buy very expensive oral meds.  Kittens and cats will need to be bathed every and dipped in Lyme Sulfur which swill stink up the whole house. You will also need to fog every room every day with antifungal treatment. In about three months, your cattery might be clear of fungus if you’re lucky but many breeders have a constant battle with it for years.

  • Every kitten you breed that has a defect or special need will require unknown extra costs.

  • Supplies: kittening cage, kittening box, bedding, fogger, towels, heating pads, hepa filters, reverse osmosis water filtration system, air exchange unit, cleaning products, betadine, forceps, hemostat, surgical scissors, nursing equipment, tube feeding equipment, nebulizer etc.

  • Tube feeding blood type incompatible kittens for the first 24 hours.

  • Digital camera and imaging software to send pictures to you prospective buyers and keep your buyers updated with weekly pictures.

  • Keeping your house constantly warm enough for your cats and kittens to thrive

  • No vacation or nights away for at least 16 weeks during kitten season.

  • Lack of sleep from feeding kittens every two hours if they're unable to nurse on their own.

  • Extra cleaning; scooping, feeding, fresh water bowls, sweeping, washing

  • Socialization time to cuddle, talk to and play with the kittens many times every day

  • Tons of extra laundry

  • Small or sickly kittens need to be cared for longer than usual.

  • Keeping kittens to honour new owners’ vacations etc.

  • Time spent for kitten inquiries by phone and Email

  • Time for visiting kitten buyers. Say goodbye to your weekends.

  • The costs of refunds, return shipping and veterinary requirements if, for any reason the cat is ever returned

  • Care, feeding and readvertising cancelled or returned cats / kittens

  • Caring for and feeding any kittens that you don’t sell or have health problems and can’t be sold.

  • Refund or replacement kitten if one you sold has a congenital or hereditable defect or if the kitten dies

  • The cost of surgery if a kitten has a congenital or hereditary defect like luxating patella or hip dysphasia

THE OTHER COSTS OF HAVING KITTENS

  • You will have to pay a stud service of at least the price of a pet kitten and that is if you can find someone who will allow you to use their male

  • You will have to pay the costs and or spend the time of getting your female to the male and back.

  • Your female might not get pregnant the first time or the second time and you may lose your stud fee

  • You are responsible for any Vet care that your cats needs while being boarded at the stud owner’s house

  • Your cat is very likely to come back sick and she can make all your other cats sick because every cattery has it’s own viruses and your cat has no immunity to those diseases.

IF YOU DON'T KEEP YOUR OWN MALE

  • Registration fees for each cat and kitten

  • Purchase of five generation pedigree for each cat

  • Cages, carriers, carrier covers, beds, toys, scratching posts, cat trees, pedigree program, filing system, litter boxes, grooming equipment, cleaning and disinfecting products, water filter system, air exchange/filter system etc.

  • Food and litter. Every week you need more food and more litter. If you spend the extra money for the best food, you will have fewer Vet bills but the weekly costs never go down. And when you have kittens, you can easily double your food and litter bills.

  • Replacement of vases, and lamps that get broken by your cats. You most expensive and irreplaceable heirlooms are the first things to get knocked over.

  • Replacement of furniture, blinds and curtains and everything that can get chewed, peed on scratched or vomited on

  • Repainting the interior of the house twice as often as people with no cats

  • Cattery helper / pet sitter if you ever have the time or money to take a vacation

  • Annual subscriptions to cat associations & registering bodies

  • Annual dues for all the Cat Clubs you belong to

  • Books, Subscriptions to cat magazines

  • Lectures and courses on genetics, cattery management and breeding practices etc.

  • Long Distance phone bills to call your vet, your breeder friends, your prospective kitten buyers, your follow up calls to kitten buyers and calls to get cats out of rescue situations

  • Internet, Website Designer, Domain Name yearly registration fee, Domain hosting

  • Your life will become a routine based on the needs of the cats. Foods, water, litter duty three times a day. Every day. Day in day out.

  • On at least a weekly basis, you will need to groom all of your cats: bathe, clip claws, clean ears, etc.

  • A thorough Veterinary exam and inoculations once a year for all your adult cats

  • Every year or two, your adult cats will need dental work

  • Time to learn about cats, cat breeding, the standard of your breed, research, communication, follow up and more. You will never stop learning and you can’t afford not to take the time

  • The time and money you must spend to rescue any cat of your breed in trouble if it is in a shelter near you

  • Legal fees for advice on writing a binding contract for your State or Province

  • Legal fees to pursue buyers who break your contract


 

  • Cattery helper / pet sitter while you are gone.

  • Dues to more cat clubs

  • Travel and time to go to club meetings

  • Entry fees for shows when exhibiting

  • Traveling to & from shows (can be very long Distances)

  • Hotel accommodation, airfare and meals

  • Grooming bench, grooming and conditioning products

  • Time off work to attend shows. Say goodbye to more weekends.

  • Show supplies: cages, carriers, drapes, beds & furnishings

  • Extra time for training & handling show cats

  • Veterinary examinations before each show.

CAT SHOW COSTS:
GENERAL COSTS

If you’ve ever considered breeding cats for a hobby or a business, please read the above three or four more times and ask yourself if you can think of three good reasons why you would want to do this.

 

Perhaps now you can see that this is a hobby for the truly committed or for those who ought to be committed. Your pet kitten, raised with love and care by a dedicated professional breeder, is priceless. Whatever the breeder charges is not enough.

Gradient Strip