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When you are ready to purchase your kitten, there are a few things you should be aware of and ask right up front. The first thing is to ask if your kitten is a full-bred Ragdoll. Some breeders are out-crossing to other breeds to bring in new colors and patterns. While this is fine if it’s done honestly, the customer should be told if the cat is less than the generation that brings it back to full Ragdoll. The price should reflect the generation of the out-cross. The kitten should be at least 4 generations away from the outcross before it is considered a full Ragdoll.
If you find a breeder whose asking price is much lower than the rest of the breeders around your area, ask why it is lower. Most good breeders don’t make money breeding. If they are lucky, they break even at the end of the year. If kittens are offered for less than average price, it could be because the breeder is cutting corners in order to outsell the competition, or they have produced too many kittens. They may have to lower their prices to attract people, and so the people will overlook the conditions the cats are raised in. A breeder should never compromise on how she raises her kittens, and never breed more kittens than they can easily raise and sell. That isn’t responsible.
No kitten should leave its breeder’s home before 12 weeks of age, and with at least one shot. By not taking a kitten before its 12 weeks old, you will be getting a much better and well-adjusted kitten. Also, the kitten’s immune system will be stronger, and the adjustment to its new home will go smoother. Kittens need to be with their littermates until this age. Then they can do their chewing and attacking on each other instead of their new owners. Kittens have to learn to be kittens, and it is better for them to do that at the breeder’s house, with their siblings and mom, than to do it to you and your children. Breeders know how to train the kittens for the best behavior towards people.
Kittens go through stages of kittenhood that are important. The first three weeks, they don’t want anything to do with people, and are happy just to be with mom. Most breeders will handle them at this age anyway, to get them use to it. The period of 3 to 6 weeks is a fun time. The kittens are thrilled with people, and want to climb all over you, and are so cute toddling around. Then comes the 6 to 10 or 11 weeks of age. At this age, they are either sleeping or flying through the house. This is the age they need each other the most. Sometime after 11 weeks of age, the kitten then turns back to humans for affection and attention. Getting a kitten at 8 weeks will not make that kitten bond with you more than at 12 weeks. You will just be depriving the kitten of a very important learning experience.
It is much cheaper for the breeder to let kittens go to their new homes at 8 weeks of age. Kittens between 8 and 12 weeks eat a tremendous amount of food, because they are growing fast. So, if the breeder is feeding them top quality food, as they should be doing, the food $$’s add up and take away any profit that might be made from the litter. As is stated above, most good breeders don’t make money. They would rather sell you a healthy, well-adjusted kitten than try to turn a profit.
You should never buy a kitten or cat without a health guarantee and contract. This protects the buyer as well as the seller. Read the contract carefully, so you know what is expected if you need to have your kitten replaced. Most breeders require an autopsy report. This is a sad thing to have to have done on a cat you just lost, and we do understand that. However, if we are to breed healthy cats, we have to know what problems we are dealing with. The vet’s "best guess" is not good enough. We need to know for sure what the problem is, and if it could be passed on to more cats and kittens. Make sure you get at least a two-year health guarantee on the kitten for any genetic or heredity defect. Many things don’t show up until the cat is a year old.
It is always best to try to visit the cattery you are getting your kitten from. This is not always possible, but it is worth the effort if you can manage it. If you can’t visit, ask for references and do call the people who have been there. Breeders can tell you something over the phone or email, but you won’t know if it is true or not, unless you visit, or talk to someone who has been there.
When you do visit, look for overall cleanliness, and make sure the litter boxes are clean, with no feces stuck on the sides. The house should not have an ‘old cat urine’ smell all over. Some breeding males produce wonderful kittens, but have horrible personal habits while they are breeding. These cats have to be confined, usually away from the living area of the family, and will have the smell of fresh urine around their cages. It is a strong smell, but should not be stale smelling; suggesting it hasn’t been cleaned for a while. Their areas should be well lighted and clean.
Make sure some attempt at separating the males and females are made. If not, ask how the breeder keeps unwanted litters or inbreeding from happening. A breeder should be willing to show you all the cats in her house the males included. Many breeders will not let you handle young kittens, but they should be willing to show you where they are raised even if it is a peek in the door of the kitten room. Look for overcrowding, or high numbers of cats and kittens that could indicate a ‘kitten mill’.
The recommendation for raising healthy kittens is to have the adult cats, except the moms, away from the kittens. This is so they don’t pick up germs from the adults who are not their mothers. Also, kittens shed viruses more than adults do, so it is also for the adult’s protection. If the total numbers of cats is small enough, there usually isn’t a problem mixing them somewhat.
On the other hand, you don’t want to buy a kitten from a place where the kittens are so isolated that they are nervous and afraid of people and normal house hold noises. Ragdolls are by nature a friendly cat, but like any other living things, they react best to what they are used to. They need to hear normal sounds of people talking, TV blaring and even kids running around. Most kittens that have been too isolated will eventually learn to accept noise and people, but it takes a while.
You have to remember that breeder cats do not look as beautiful as they would be if they were spayed or neutered. Males often have more important things on their mind then food, and can be on the thin side, with half the coat they would have if they were neutered. The females are usually in different stages of "beauty". They usually start looking good again with all their weight, and starting to get back their coats, just about the time they are ready to be bred again.
If you buy from a smaller breeder, you may have to wait awhile for a kitten, but the wait will be worth it. Naturally, a large breeder will have kittens available all the time, but realize that with more kittens per care taker, the kittens may not be getting the attention they would from a cattery with fewer kittens at one time. Raising cats is a hard job, and the more cats you have, the more work and there will be less time for the kittens.
Is the breeder willing to let you visit and see all the cats?
Do the cats look clean and well taken care of?
Do they have plenty of room, and are not overcrowded in their environment?
Does the breeder offer a contract with at least a one-year health guarantee?
Are the kittens offered for sale no earlier than 12 weeks of age?
Is the house or cattery clean?
Are the kittens well socialized? Do they seek out people, or run away when approached?
Breeding cats do not have the weight or the full coats of altered pets.
This should be taken into account. However, the cats should still be clean and well taken care of without runny eyes or matted coats.
We hope you enjoy your new Ragdoll family member, from where ever you buy it.
Ragdoll Fanciers Club International - www.rfci.org