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How to pick a breeder?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I went to the TICA cat show this weekend in Waco, Texas. I am currently researching as much as possible about the bengal and looking for potential bengal breeders.

I talked to 5 different breeders and took notes. They all seemed informative and easy going. How do I go about picking a breeder? I would love to get some advice and opinions from any of our fellow breeders on how they chose who they bought from or anyone else who has any helpful tips on making that final decision.

How many years of breeding/showing qualifies a breeder as experienced in your opinion? Most of the breeders do know each other, but that doesn't help me in my decision. I know that there will be 3 key items I will be looking at to help me decide.

1. Price/Health guarantee
2. Ability to produce the bengal I would like/likability of breeder
3. Temperment of the cat/quality

I plan on going to at least 2 or 3 more shows this year to get to know any and all potential breeders available to me.
post #2 of 20
First of all if you've never owned a Bengal before or have no or very little breeding experience with purebreds, then you will have a hard time finding a breeder to hand over breeding cats to you.

If you are serious about FUTURE breedings, then start out with showing an altered cat. Reading about breeding, etc is very helpful, but getting to know the breed in person is far more important. You'll need to establish yourself as a good owner and learn how to tell a good/bad quality Bengal.

Usually people start off with a show alter, learn everything they can about the breed, get to know other breeders, know problems in the breed, etc. Then in a few years they seek out a breeding female. You don't want a male as of yet - you send her out to the stud. Males have to be caged because of spraying.

When looking for a good breeder, look for one that can produce consistency and quality - NOT quantity. You want to see pedigrees - look for cats that are grand champion or champions in the first 3 generations - the more "titled" cats the better the cat and better the quality.

You also want to know if those titled cats are producing quality kittens. Some grand champions are "flash in the pan" - they don't produce quality even if they are that good.

If your intentions of breeding are to make money, then don't even bother. Breeders don't make money, they are lucky to break even after all the expenses. If your intentions are to produce a show quality cat and a loving pet, then you are on the right track. But its hard work. You have to know the written standard and be able to evaluate the kittens. You also have to be willing to show your cats and line up future homes.

Good luck in your search, but start out with a show alter and wait a few years before you get into breeding.
post #3 of 20
I think perhaps you've misunderstood the OP's question GK....

How to choose a good breeder (human):

1. How much knowledge they have on the breed
2. What kind of cats they have produced over the years and from which lines
3. How they treat the cats they are showing (at the time of meeting)
4. How they interview YOU as a potential home
5. Did they invite you to see the cats in a home situation

In other words, a reverse process of what a breeder would do if you were a potential home for one of theirs....

Never expect a breeder to be able to produce what you really want (if you're that specific) since we breeders are not God. You could ask for a rosetted Bengal and never get one if the breeder you have chosen to purchase from is unable to "create" one! Unless of course, you're willing to wait!

Research is key!
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info! I am not looking to breed bengals at all. Will most likely start as pet to learn as much possible and then maybe show at a later time. I'm just trying to decide how to pick a breeder to get a bengal from especially when there are many to begin with.

How do I learn more about the lines and interpret them? I know bengals can be F1 and up, but I really would like to be able to understand what I am looking at when I see a pedigree.
post #5 of 20
Aby, no I didn't - the "breeder" I was refering to in producing quality cats was human-not animal

Ok, I misunderstood - thought you wanted to get into breeding the Bengals.

If you are looking for a pet and not show, then you still want some of the same things. A cat that produces good quality kittens.

The breeder (human) should tell you how they socialize their Bengals. Many of them don't do a good job of it - Bengals tend to need more human socializing then other breeds. And they should be willing to help you out with your questions, feeding, etc. You also want a good health guarantee too. Is the breeder willing to take back the cats if you can't keep them?

I would look for a breeder who has been in the show/breeding rings for at least 2-3 yrs. You want one that is really knowledgable with the breed.

Also the breeder should question YOU as much as you question them Nial (Meridian Bengals) can help you understand the F1 stuff. I think that you don't want a kitten that is anything less then an F4. PM him with some of your questions. He's KiaBengals in here.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Aby, no I didn't - the "breeder" I was refering to in producing quality cats was human-not animal

Ok, I misunderstood - thought you wanted to get into breeding the Bengals.

If you are looking for a pet and not show, then you still want some of the same things. A cat that produces good quality kittens.

The breeder (human) should tell you how they socialize their Bengals. Many of them don't do a good job of it - Bengals tend to need more human socializing then other breeds. And they should be willing to help you out with your questions, feeding, etc. You also want a good health guarantee too. Is the breeder willing to take back the cats if you can't keep them?

I would look for a breeder who has been in the show/breeding rings for at least 2-3 yrs. You want one that is really knowledgable with the breed.

Also the breeder should question YOU as much as you question them Nial (Meridian Bengals) can help you understand the F1 stuff. I think that you don't want a kitten that is anything less then an F4. PM him with some of your questions. He's KiaBengals in here.
All the breeders I talked to socialize their kittens in the house and with as much human contact as possible. Most has at least 2+ years and up of experience.

I had a couple that said I was welcome to visit their cattery at any time, which is important to me to see how their living conditions are.
post #7 of 20
Sabrina and I have talked via PM several times about her bengal goals.

The points that have been brought up here are valid ones and a good guide line to go by.

I do however think your number one priority should be to find out how much emphasis is put on kitten socialization and temperament.

Afterall, who wants a stunning rosetted kitten sired by a supreme grand champion, that is fearful, hides or is so aloof that he/she won't allow you to touch it.

There are quite a few breeders out there, that produce stunning cats for the show hall, but their kittens are caged at home, getting just minimal human interaction.

Your kitten should be "plug and play", not something that takes you months to earn it's trust.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Bengals View Post
Sabrina and I have talked via PM several times about her bengal goals.

The points that have been brought up here are valid ones and a good guide line to go by.

I do however think your number one priority should be to find out how much emphasis is put on kitten socialization and temperament.

Afterall, who wants a stunning rosetted kitten sired by a supreme grand champion, that is fearful, hides or is so aloof that he/she won't allow you to touch it.

There are quite a few breeders out there, that produce stunning cats for the show hall, but their kittens are caged at home, getting just minimal human interaction.

Your kitten should be "plug and play", not something that takes you months to earn it's trust.
Very true Nial....this by far will not be a light-hearted decision and a life-long committment. I, like anyone else, would love to have a cat who has a personality, but is friendly and active all the same. I want to be sure that whomever I pick to buy from has a cat coming from a loving home and is free to roam.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Bengals View Post
I do however think your number one priority should be to find out how much emphasis is put on kitten socialization and temperament.

This was my number one goal when I started looking for my boys. Teri asked me what was I looking for in a kitten? I needed an outgoing, strong personality, confident, friendly kitty to mesh with my crew.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snosrap5 View Post
This was my number one goal when I started looking for my boys. Teri asked me what was I looking for in a kitten? I needed an outgoing, strong personality, confident, friendly kitty to mesh with my crew.
That's what I'm looking for. You just nailed it.
post #11 of 20
Being able to see the cattery is important, but many times its not possible if its too far out of state. We drove 6 hrs to get Charlie and visit with the breeder who has a separate house for her cats - but the house is like a normal house - no cages. The boys each have their own bedroom

Our next Oci will have to be bought without visiting the cattery as the ones I have in mind are too far away to visit in person.

In any breed proper socialization is important - I know breeders of Persians and other more common breeds who don't socialize kittens and they can be just as fearful and not outgoing towards people as Bengal breeders who keep their cats locked up and are not socialized properly.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Being able to see the cattery is important, but many times its not possible if its too far out of state. We drove 6 hrs to get Charlie and visit with the breeder who has a separate house for her cats - but the house is like a normal house - no cages. The boys each have their own bedroom

Our next Oci will have to be bought without visiting the cattery as the ones I have in mind are too far away to visit in person.

In any breed proper socialization is important - I know breeders of Persians and other more common breeds who don't socialize kittens and they can be just as fearful and not outgoing towards people as Bengal breeders who keep their cats locked up and are not socialized properly.
We used to breed Persians and they were socialized in the house with us. We did not even own a cage. We were very small and only had maybe 2 litters per year, maybe 3 at the very most.

So I endorse cats being very socialized and friendly. I could never cage an animal in my house.

I plan on visiting some catteries later on, however, how do I know if they are truly able to roam free and socialize? They could just let them out right before I come over and I'd never know. I guess that is where references will also come in to play.
post #13 of 20
You can tell by the reaction of the adult cats if they are free to roam or just been let out If they come running up to you and don't act overly cautious they are probably used to people around and being underfoot.

Charlie and Ling will be a little cautious but within 5-10 mins they are interacting with you.
post #14 of 20
Well with Nial's crew I knew right away the kittens had the run of the house. The great big 500 pound cat tree and all the cat stuff scattered everywhere, oh and the 10 or so kittens running from one room to the other kind of gave it away.

We drove 11 hours to pick up Takoda and visit Nial and Teri's cattery and I never regret making that trip. The dedication and commitment involved in breeding CORRECTLY is mind blowing. My three teenage boys received a wonderful tour and asked so many questions and were amazed at the set-up of the cattery.

Takoda was cautious of us at first. Which is to expected but within just an hour on the road he was all over the place and letting everyone know just how he felt.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snosrap5 View Post
Well with Nial's crew I knew right away the kittens had the run of the house. The great big 500 pound cat tree and all the cat stuff scattered everywhere, oh and the 10 or so kittens running from one room to the other kind of gave it away.

We drove 11 hours to pick up Takoda and visit Nial and Teri's cattery and I never regret making that trip. The dedication and commitment involved in breeding CORRECTLY is mind blowing. My three teenage boys received a wonderful tour and asked so many questions and were amazed at the set-up of the cattery.

Takoda was cautious of us at first. Which is to expected but within just an hour on the road he was all over the place and letting everyone know just how he felt.
That's really great! If I can't find one I'm comfortable with, I may just have to interview with Nial. At least I know his are friendly and very well cared for.
post #16 of 20
If you were looking for an Oriental I'd say that if you don't end up with a cat in your lap or climbing on your shoulder within a few minutes of sitting down, look elsewhere. Bengals aren't so much lap cats, but they should be confident and outgoing, so expect to be investigated! Look out for bright, alert, and active kittens, and inquisitive friendly adults. Kittens are sometimes too busy playing their kitten games to even notice you at first so don't expect them all to flock to you immediately - but the point is that they shouldn't look horrified or worried by your presence, whether they immediately include you in their games or not. I am not sure what reaction you ought to expect from early generation cats with a higher percentage of ALC blood or whether they are as bold, I'm talking about the more usual later generation Bengals.

I think you should go and visit breeders, but then I have the luxury of living in a small country, it may not be feasible for you in which case try to meet the breeder at a show and ask around people who have had kittens from him/her.

Questions I asked when I was looking for Sonic included: How often do your queens have a litter; Do you enjoy showing your cats; What look do you ultimately want to acheive (this was a particularly relevant one for me looking for an Ori, as we weren't after an ultra-modern/US type); How would you describe the personalities of your cats... etc etc, you get the picture!

Expect to be asked some quite personal things such as: What hours do you work; Do you plan to have a family; What attracted you to Bengals; Have you had a cat before, how long did it live and what did it die of... etc etc, they are just wanting to make sure you will love their babies as much as they do, provide a suitable home environment, and find the perfect match for you! If a breeder does not seem that interested in your circumstances, then it shows a lack of care for their kittens' future and they probably haven't put as much effort into raising great cats.

I hope that helps!
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
Bengals aren't so much lap cats, but they should be confident and outgoing, so expect to be investigated! Look out for bright, alert, and active kittens, and inquisitive friendly adults. Kittens are sometimes too busy playing their kitten games to even notice you at first so don't expect them all to flock to you immediately - but the point is that they shouldn't look horrified or worried by your presence, whether they immediately include you in their games or not.
Perfect description! Actually you described Takoda and Magnum to a T! This is exactly what you would like see when you visit a cattery!
post #18 of 20
I would say the cats should acknoledge you and not run at the site of you. I have seen caged catteries with well socialized cats. Its more like are the cages walk in, are they socialized and how many cats do they have total.
I don't cage and don't plan on it nor do I sell to caged catteries but each cattery is unique.
The biggest thing is how does the breeder talk about her cats, can she pick a cat up without it turning tail?
post #19 of 20
I say: Just get one from Nial. End of story. Great breeder, nice people, VERY caring and amazingly wonderful cats.

His bengals are SO worth waiting for.

Although, I didn't get to tour the cattery while I was at his place, so I'm jealous of Eva and her boys.

But OMG - the kitten room! What a FANTASTIC place to be - sitting on the floor surrounded by non-stop spotted/marbled ENERGY! And the cuteness factor!

I could have stayed for WEEKS just watching those little ones go.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GingersMom View Post
I say: Just get one from Nial. End of story. Great breeder, nice people, VERY caring and amazingly wonderful cats.

His bengals are SO worth waiting for.

Although, I didn't get to tour the cattery while I was at his place, so I'm jealous of Eva and her boys.

But OMG - the kitten room! What a FANTASTIC place to be - sitting on the floor surrounded by non-stop spotted/marbled ENERGY! And the cuteness factor!

I could have stayed for WEEKS just watching those little ones go.
Honestly, if I can't decide on a breeder here in Texas, I may just do that. I've heard such wonderful things about Nial and Teri and I want to make sure I pick the right breeder to get a bengal from. Afterall, this will be a 15-20 year commitment. I want to get it right the first time.
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