A number of years back, I was emailed a handout to help explain to people about the challenges involved with breeding RagaMuffins or any other cats. This was meant to eliminate surprises new breeders may encounter. The goal is to help one decide whether or not breeding is an adventure to pursue. I have modified the original document, but am unable to give credit to the original writer as I don’t know who it is!
Sometimes, without realizing what is involved, new breeders become discouraged and quit breeding after a short time. This is disappointing for everyone involved: the new breeder, the breeder(s) who provided the initial breeding cats, and the mentor(s) who may have spent many, many hours helping the new breeder get started. There are some things that each potential breeder should know up front.
The Profit Myth:
One of the great myths about breeding cats is that breeders make a lot of money.
Very few, if any, cat breeders make a profit. A prospective breeder might wonder how this can be true. Well, first, there is a substantial investment to get started and second, the ongoing expenses of running a good cattery are more than anyone expects. The original breeding cats, supplies, equipment, food and vet bills can easily run more than the income from selling kittens. So, this venture should be considered more of a cat loving hobby than a viable source of income.
Keeping intact (not spayed or castrated) cats is very different than having cats as pets. Of course the more intact cats one has, the more of a challenge that this becomes.
Intact cats often spray urine to mark their territory. When males are not neutered, the smell of their urine is pungent to say the least. If they are kept in a breeder’s home, the home will likely have an unpleasant smell. Many people cannot live with intact males in the same ‘air space’ so breeders may need to consider a separate place where the stud(s) are housed.
Some stud owners have separate buildings that are properly ventilated and heated to house their males. If a breeder has more than one stud, he/she may need to keep them separate or fights may occur! Even though the studs may be housed in separate quarters, a cattery owner must find time each day to spend time with them so that they get the proper attention and affection to remain lovable RagaMuffin kitties.
Once intact males mature, some will cry loudly to let the world know that they are ready, willing and able to perform their breeding role. Some males are louder than others so it makes sense to be sure that neighbors will not be bothered by the noise.
Many think that only intact males spray. However, many intact females also mark their territory, especially when they are in heat, by spraying or urinating on carpets, bedding, furniture, etc. While many products claim to eliminate urine odor, it is very difficult to do so. Most breeders elect to remove wall to wall carpets in favor of easier to clean floors with washable area rugs. Waterproof mattress pads are a must and some also use them under slipovers on living room sofas and chairs.
Females also cry loudly when they are in season. Like the males, they will call loudly, night and day. During spring and summer, females tend to call approximately every two to three weeks for approximately seven days at a time.
Marketing and Sales:
Placing kittens and retired adults is a tremendous responsibility. You will need to market your cattery with a web site and Facebook page. Keeping those Internet resources up to date takes time and energy as well as a bit of skill.
It takes time to interact with potential kitten purchasers. Responsible breeders want to ensure that our babies are placed in appropriate, loving homes. Screening potential buyers via email and telephone is a time consuming activity.
Vet Bills & Health Problems:
Of course there are normal veterinary expenses. These include health clearance tests and vaccinations for your breeding cats, for example tests for FeLV, FIV and routine kitten vaccinations. Many RagaMuffin breeders are also spaying and neutering kittens prior to placing them in homes. This adds to the expense, but protects the kitten in the long run.
There are also the unforeseen expenses that may crop up. Upper respiratory, urinary tract problems, diarrhea, and dental issues should be addressed in a timely manner by a professional.
Complications can, and DO, arise either during pregnancy or during delivery and this is when the vet bills can really start to add up. Each litter will have to be treated should problems occur while they are in your care.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is when a breeder loses one or more kittens because they were premature, had congenital issues, or had an illness. Sadly, this will eventually happen under the best of circumstances. In addition, thankfully not often, a breeder may lose a beloved queen to complications in the birthing process. This is the other side of the joy of bringing beautiful RagaMuffin kittens into the world.
Foot Loose and Fancy Free?
Maintaining breeding cats will greatly curtail a breeder’s ability to be away from home. A responsible breeder can’t just get up and go. If a queen is due to deliver kittens, the breeder must be available in case of difficulties; this is despite having plans attend a wedding, a birthday party, Christmas festivities, or any other event. Things can go wrong very quickly.
Showing your Kittens:
One goal for breeders is to produce cats that match the standard for the RagaMuffin or to come as close as possible. Participation in cat shows gives a breeder the opportunity to see other RagaMuffins and also to meet with other RagaMuffin breeders and discuss issues relevant to the breed. Attending cat shows is another expense of being a breeder. There are entry fees and travel expenses, including sometimes eating out, staying in a hotel, and traveling to a distant location.
In addition, attending a cat show can take significant amount of time: filling out paperwork, assembling everything required to go to the show, arranging transportation and for a cat sitter if you will be away from home, bathing and grooming for the cat, traveling to the show location, being at the show itself (usually on a weekend), and traveling back home again. The shows are usually a lot of fun, but they will be another item in the budget.
At this point, I believe prior to starting a breeding program, a person should get a quality RagaMuffin premier ( spayed or castrated cat) and show it for a year. That year will be spent learning how to evaluate cats, groom kitties and make friends with quality breeders who can mentor.
Cat & Kitten Care:
Breeding cats (and any ‘teenagers’ or neutered adults), need to be fed and watered regularly along with routine litter box maintenance. Regular grooming is an important part of their care as well. The living quarters must be cleaned, and food and water bowls washed. Kittens must be weighed at least once daily for several weeks to monitor their growth. If newborns have difficulty nursing, or their mother has no milk, they must be raised by hand. This means feeding every two to four hours 24 hours a day.
Socializing kittens with play and cuddling is an important and fun part of being a breeder. It needs to be done daily and requires knowledge of kitten behavior to accomplish successfully.
Having a sick kitten or cat is always a worry. It is the duty of a breeder to spend the time and money needed to care for ill animals. As wonderful as they are, just one litter of kittens can be exhausting. . While we call this a hobby, it is actually a full-time job from which there are really no true breaks or vacations and little, if any, monetary compensation.
Forever a Breeder
Once placed in a home, a breeder’s responsibility does not end. Providing advice for the pet owner when needed is imperative. In addition, a responsible breeder is willing to take back any kitten at any time during its life. People’s lives change due to illness, divorce, etc and it is the duty for a breeder to ensure that any cat that he/she bred will always have a home.