While some backyard breeders (BYB's) may make money selling kittens, most legitimate breeders do not even begin to cover their own costs. In fact, most dive deeply into their own savings and other resources just to keep on breeding. It is an extremely expensive hobby. Most of us WISH we could just break even, but can't. It may look like a gold mine to you, but let's go through the expenses involved and you'll see that turning a profit would be a rare event for a breeder. We do this for love and overall benefit of the breed, not money!! And most of us hide the REAL expenses from our spouses!
As an example, buying a top quality female, with breeding rights (which may have restrictions on how we can sell the kittens), may cost $800 to more than $1000. Males are more. Sometimes, a registered breeding male can cost upwards of $2000!!! Maintenance, supplies and veterinary care generally cost breeders about $500 per cat per year. By the time a cat is first bred, at about a year old, the breeder may have easily invested several thousand dollars out of pocket. And all of this doesn't even begin to cover the costs of showing the cats! To take a cat to the title of Grand Champion or Regional/National Winner can be from $1000 to more than $20,000!
If the breeder isn't fortunate enough to own their own male, then there is a stud fee for the breeding, which may be $500 - $1000 per litter. The required series of kitten shots cost breeders about $100 per kitten - and that's if there are NO problems to be treated. Kittens stay with breeders for 3 months or so, and have to be fed, cuddled, and cleaned-up-after for all that time. More and more breeders are opting to have their kittens spayed or neutered before going to their new homes and in some areas, this early neutering can cost in the neighborhood of $200 - $300 per kitten!!!
Separate, special areas of the house are often customized for the cats to use as a cattery or nursery - and some cattery set-ups cost $5,000 or more to build. If all goes well, fat healthy kittens are born - but there are always the disasters, such as C-sections that run $750 and up. Sometimes, after all the investment is made, a cat is found to be infertile. Good breeders make a huge investment into "doing it right", by having the right breeding cats and facilities. BYB's reap profits by cutting corners (not having quality cats as parents, not keeping kittens until the proper age or providing proper prenatal and kitten veterinary care) - and then they charge the same price as the reputable breeders. We cannot dismiss the fact that those caring, professional breeders make huge sacrifices in their personal lives and shed lots of tears in trying to create succesful breeding programs. BYB's are "one hit wonders" - they take your money and are gone. Most legitimate breeders are going to be pretty darn annoyed if you neglect to send photos and check in once in awhile!
Hope this answers your question.