So you’ve decided you want a Maine Coon kitten of your very own, congrats! Now it’s time to figure out where to get one. Like any good Maine Coon owner you’ll want to get a kitten from the best breeder around, someone reputable that will have just the gender and color you’re looking for. Read on to discover some of the most important things to look for in a good breeder.
They’re a Member of a Cat Association
For Maine Coons this means they’re likely a member of the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA). Associations have guidelines for how Maine Coons are supposed to look and act, and so associated breeders will try to breed lineages that are in line with the standards.
If the breeder is a member of an association then they should also provide registration papers for the cat, which shows that the Maine Coon is indeed a Maine Coon and verified by the association.
A proper cattery will keep the details of the cat’s lineage, typically back to at least the grandparents. These documents are called pedigree papers, and can also show through lineage that a cat is a Maine Coon.
Breeders that aren’t registered with an association might not be able to provide proof that the kitten they’re offering is actually a Maine Coon, and that may be because they’re not actually selling purebred Maine Coons or following the proper breeding standards.
Contracts & Guarantees
Any good breeder will provide a contract upon selling the kitten, and you should defiantly insist upon one yourself if they do not. Even though most breeders take measures to produce healthy litters that are free of genetic disorders, kittens can still develop health issues weeks after you’ve taken them home. A good contract will have a health guarantee that outlines what will happen if health problems show up in the kitten, and have time limits on how long the guarantee is good for. Most Maine Coon catteries will provide guarantees for up to 1 year.
The contract also usually outlines the new owner’s responsibility to give the Maine Coon regular veterinary checkups and provide a certain level of care. Most breeders will take the cat back if the owner can no longer properly care for the pet.
They Genetically Test Their Maine Coons
Every good breeder should conduct genetic testing on their litters because even though they might be taking all measures to produce litters without any health issues, these disorders can still spring up from time to time.
You can get a good idea of the general prevalence of disorders in the breeder’s litters by asking about the results of their genetic tests over time. It’s also important that they test your kitten for any health issues before you take the kitten home.
They Keep Health Records
Any good breeder will also keep the health records of all their kittens and provide these to you upon transfer of ownership. These documents are important to provide to your veterinarian so they have a place to start with checkups.
These health records will show their vet checkups, that they’re up to date with their vaccinations and the testing that was done for genetic disorders such as FIV and FELV.
Do a Quick Google Search
Believe it or not, you can gain a lot of valuable insight on a breeder just by doing a quick google search on their name. You can quickly find bad reviews and complaints if there are any, and cross them off the list swiftly and move on.
Ask the Breeder Questions
There’s nothing wrong with giving the breeder a questionnaire over email or phone before planning a visit. Some essential questions to ask are as follows:
- How often does breeding take place? Female cats should not breed more often than every 8 months. If a queen is being bred more often than that, it could be a sign of a neglectful or inexperienced breeder.
- What colors/patterns can you offer? For some people, getting a kitten with a specific color or pattern is important. Not all breeders can offer every color and pattern of Maine Coon (there are a lot!), so if this is important to you then make sure you find one that can.
- What measures do you take to minimize genetic disorders among your litters? This question is pointed, but can provide you with quick insight on the health of breeder’s litters. They should mention several things they do to prevent genetic issues and they might also being up whether it’s a common problem for them among their current litters.
- Do you spay or neuter kittens before they leave the cattery? Most good breeders will spay/neuter the kittens before they go home. This will prevent accidental pregnancies if you cat happens to encounter another cat and keeps backyard breeders from obtaining fertile Maine Coons. It will also save you the expense of spaying or neutering yourself.
- At what age do you release the kittens? It’s a bad sign if the breeder releases the cats before 10-14 months of age.
A good breeder will usually also ask YOU questions as well. After all, if they’re concerned with the well-being of their cats, then they should be concerned with the capability of a potential buyer to care for them.
Visit the Breeder
You can gain a lot of information just by seeing the breeding conditions of the cattery and observing how the Maine Coons parents behave.
Kittens will most likely adopt the temperament and behaviors of their parents, and not all Maine Coons are as affectionate or social as the articles say. Visiting the cattery will allow you to observe the nature of the parents; perhaps you can have a little play session or trying bonding with one of them.
You’ll also have a chance to see the general conditions of the breeding area. Is it clean and do the cats have plenty of space to run around? If you have access to their food, do their diets look adequate? Are there other pets or children in the home? Environment plays a big part in developing Maine Coon behavior in kittens, and a loud, stressful or aggressive environment might develop traits you were not exactly looking for.