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Finding a good breeder - Advice needed!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am currently trying to find a ragdoll breeder to purchase a pet kitten. I am interviewing several breeders because I do want to make a good choice. I visited one breeder a couple of weeks ago and I am having some doubts about purchasing from her.

First, the positives. She is a very nice hobby breeder who has been breeding just a couple of years. She sells all her kittens as pets only and is very upfront about it. The kittens are raised underfoot. She doesn't release them until they are 12 weeks old. She has a contract and a guarantee that is acceptable to me. They are vet checked and vaccinated. In addition, she has a kitten that I like in the color I want.

Two major negatives are raising a red flag for me. One is cleanliness. The house had a very strong urine order as soon as I walked in the door. I do realize that an intact male cat will spray to mark his territory, but it was "take your breath away" strong. This alone wouldn't have turned me away, but when she was talking about how the kittens are doing development wise, she said, "they are doing pretty well with the litter box". These kittens are around 9-10 weeks old, so I think they should be doing "great" with the litter box. I was kind of reading between the lines when I heard her say this, so I am wondering how much of the urine odor was actually from the kittens not using the litter box.

The other red flag is the temperament of both the kittens and the adults. She brought the mom and dad out for me to see. The mom actually struggled in her arms. Neither the mom nor dad would stay in the room with us. Two of the four kittens from this litter would not stay in the room either. She would bring them in for me to hold and they would immediately run away. However, the other two kittens were fine. They each showed just the right amount of cautiousness as well as curiosity towards me. One of them is already taken and the other is still available.

Should I take a chance on this kitten or should I keep looking? The above reasons make me feel I should keep looking, but the fact that it may be difficult to find a local breeder with available Ragdolls makes me think I should settle on her.

I am visiting another breeder today who impressed me over the phone. She has a litter of kittens now that are already sold and is expecting another litter the end of August, but she already has two people on the waiting list for that litter. If I wait to get a kitten from her it could be quite a while.

Any advice is appreciated!
post #2 of 16
I would likely go somewhere else... but I am not a breeder
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by missmolly
Two major negatives are raising a red flag for me. One is cleanliness. The house had a very strong urine order as soon as I walked in the door. I do realize that an intact male cat will spray to mark his territory, but it was "take your breath away" strong. This alone wouldn't have turned me away, but when she was talking about how the kittens are doing development wise, she said, "they are doing pretty well with the litter box". These kittens are around 9-10 weeks old, so I think they should be doing "great" with the litter box. I was kind of reading between the lines when I heard her say this, so I am wondering how much of the urine odor was actually from the kittens not using the litter box.
Otherwise, was the house clean and tidy? If so, then simply ask her what percentage of the time the kittens are using the box. If she has been upfront with you about everything else, she would have no reason to begin lying now. It is true that whole males DO spray. And the smell is nearly impossible to eradicate once it is settled in. And kittens DO have accidents, no matter how well acclimated they are to using the box. As a breeder, I would not let any kitten who wasn't consistantly using the box go out to a new home. I would just talk to this lady candidly about your concern with this. If she is worth her salt, she won't be offended, she will appreciate that you are a concerned potential kitten mommy and respect the fact that you asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by missmolly
The other red flag is the temperament of both the kittens and the adults. She brought the mom and dad out for me to see. The mom actually struggled in her arms. Neither the mom nor dad would stay in the room with us. Two of the four kittens from this litter would not stay in the room either. She would bring them in for me to hold and they would immediately run away. However, the other two kittens were fine. They each showed just the right amount of cautiousness as well as curiosity towards me. One of them is already taken and the other is still available.
Does this lady live alone by chance? Sometimes, in small, household catteries, kittens may only have been exposed to one or at most two other people. We try the best we can to give them the best overall effort towards exposure to many possibilities, but sometimes, it just doesn't happen that way. Kittens adapt to their new environment once there. If her house is relatively quiet with not much traffic or noise and your house is exactly the opposite, then whatever baby you bring in WILL be a little skittish for the first several days.

My advice to you is to go back to the first breeder and talk to her about your concerns. As I mentioned above, she will probably be appreciative that you wanted to bring these things to her for discussion. If I can help in any way possible, don't hesitate to let me know.

Best of luck on finding the perfect kitten for you,

~gf~
post #4 of 16
Ask her for references and do talk to her vet. At least you would be able to know if she is telling you the truth about vet visits and keeping the cats healthy. If the vet tells you she is legit, then it would make you feel better about getting kittens from her. Also, obviously, if she sold kittens to other people who would be willing to talk to you, that would be a big help in making your decision as well.
post #5 of 16
I would not have bought one of these kittens. Not so much because of the smell and the litter box, but I would never buy a kitten that would not come to me when I sit on the floor, and the temperament of the parents does not help either.

I live alone, and when I will have kittens hopefully later this fall, I know I have to invite friends and children often enough to have the kittens used to more that one person. The must accept to be picked up and handled.

If I were you I would go and see the other breeder, and if it is true that all the kittens are sold and there is a waiting list for the next litter, I would rather wait for one of those kittens.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
That's one more thing I thought suspicious. She had a notebook of letters from her satisfied customers that she held in her lap and flipped through, reading them to me (not word for word, but highlighting the good stuff). She doesn't give out reference names to protect their privacy. I guess that would be the third red flag.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by missmolly
That's one more thing I thought suspicious. She had a notebook of letters from her satisfied customers that she held in her lap and flipped through, reading them to me (not word for word, but highlighting the good stuff). She doesn't give out reference names to protect their privacy. I guess that would be the third red flag.
Would she give you the vet's name? If she doesn't, then I would not buy the kittens at all. I understand other customers might want privacy, but if she says the vet wants privacy-well, that is just bogus. And usually, well, there got to be a few people among her customers that would agree to be references, so that doesn't sound good. But I imagine most people would not be happy to give references, as they would want privacy. But again, the vet shouldn't be concerned about privacy.
post #8 of 16
As a small, household, hobby breeder myself, I know the issues around having kitten buyers into my home - it IS afterall, my HOME, not a professional cattery setup where the cats are confined to one part of the house that is specifically designed for them. It may also be true in this breeder's case that her cats, like mine, are beloved pet-companions first and breeding/working cats second. Did she ask you a thousand questions about your home and family? Did she ask you for a vet reference? Did she explain her Sales Agreement thoroughly? Did she tell you about her cats, their history, their health issues or other problems? If so, then you will probably be happy in working with her.

With regard to her notebook of satisfied customers, maybe you could ask her to give you a list of her customers who would not mind being contacted. I don't see where it would be a problem to ask her to contact them first and ask permission to give them as a reference. I have a couple of kitten buyers that are willing to do that for me. The majority doesn't want to though and so I don't press the issue with them. I would never arbitrarily give out anyone's contact info without first being granted permission to do that. I do give out my vet's name, address and phone number without hesitation, though. Not only does he talk with the person calling, but there is one of his vet techs that will talk to them too - she loves my cats and enjoys seeing them when they come in. *smile*

As for the kittens' temperment, I think it is an unfair judgement on this woman for anyone to say that they wouldn't buy a kitten from her just because it wouldn't come to them when they sat on the floor. Kittens are naturally curious, yes - but it is also true that if they did not have a great deal of exposure to "strangers", they could also be naturally reluctant, especially if the Momma cat was reluctant - and many cats ARE wary of strangers. I just don't think it is fair to pass an opinion on the future personality of the kittens based on this one visit. How long did you stay and did the other kittens ever come out to greet you at all?
post #9 of 16
My adult cats are all shy of strangers, because I rarely have visitors in my apartment. The younger two, Simba and SunLee learned from watching Shane, to run and hide when people knock on my door. They are NOT shy with me, though. In fact they are playful and loving. So, even though her cats may not be accustomed to strangers, and there for are very shy around them, doesn't mean that they aren't given lots of love and that they won't be loving and affectionate with you.

Simba and SunLee were both highly socialized and used to people, when I got them. However, like I said, they watched Shane, and I guess decided that they should do as he does and hide on the rare occasion when someone comes to my house. I wish they were a bit more friendly with new people, but I also feel secure in the fact that they aren't going to let a stranger touch them, if somehow they accidently got outside, or if someone broke into my house and tried to rob me or something.
post #10 of 16
I am sorry if you misunderstood me. What I mean is that I would not buy a kitten that will not come to me. Given the choice I would choose a kitten that is not shy with strangers (at least after some minutes).

I do not mean that shy kittens cannot be very loving pets with their owners, but I feel I would be more certain of that if the kitten comes to me straight away.
post #11 of 16
I would follow Gaye's advice and ask her the questions that bother you - they bother me too, just reading them. I know the smell of urine is hard to mask, esp if one has a male stud. But the little ones can also add to the smell.

I would insist on talking to the vet and to having the kitten's medical records. And at least three references. Many good breeders have satisfied customers who are more than willing to share their information with you.

When I purchased my Seal Point Siamese, several facts cinched it for me. She had a great reputation but that was not enough. She refused to sell kittens to a family with small children - one child actually dropped a kitten when he picked it up and we all sighed with relief when they left. (and I adore children but a parent who does not teach her child to ask before picking up a young kitten is clearly not leading well by example). I fell in love with my kitten and we bonded right there and then - and she was the leader of her litter, as real dynamo. (she still rules the roost, lol)

Some kittens do not come to people not just because they may be afraid but because they are curious about some other thing that has their attention - this may especially true of certain breeds like Siamese. I like to see kittens that are well socialized even if it just with their own litter and seeing them in their own surroundings is a good way to determine this. Some kittens are skittish for some reason or another and that may just mean that is part of their personality. Certinly, all the fussing over them is bound to be a little hard on them after awhile.

The breeder I chose also asked people to pet her kittens only after they had used an antibacterial product - she was afraid of germs from another cat at someone's home since they still had one more vaccination to go. This is usually true of cat shows as well mind you. It is proper etiquette to ask first before petting.

References are very important and good breeders will share their references with you with no problem. Obviously, some people value their privacy and that is understandable. But there are others are only too happy to meet with you or talk to you. It concerns me she won't provide that but again, I do not want to judge and you can ask her for specific references.

Good luck finding your ragdoll. They are a cute breed tho I prefer Siamese.
post #12 of 16
I normally do like a potential home with kids ... I think every kid needs a pet.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice. I met with the other breeder last night and I have to tell you that it was like night and day! I am not saying that the first breeder was a "bad" breeder, but I will say that this breeder is an outstanding breeder. I am so glad I waited and found this lady. Her home is immaculate with no detectable cat odor and she had many more adult cats. The kittens were beautiful and all of them acted exactly as I would expect 10-week-old kittens to behave. I wasn't aloud to touch them because all of them are sold and she was concerned about germ potential. I was able to sit in the room with them and they were all over the place. Each of them approached me to check me out. They showed no fear. I am so confident of this breeder. I am on her waiting list for the next litter - third in line - so hopeful she will have at least three babies!
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by missmolly
Thank you all for the advice. I met with the other breeder last night and I have to tell you that it was like night and day! I am not saying that the first breeder was a "bad" breeder, but I will say that this breeder is an outstanding breeder. I am so glad I waited and found this lady. Her home is immaculate with no detectable cat odor and she had many more adult cats. The kittens were beautiful and all of them acted exactly as I would expect 10-week-old kittens to behave. I wasn't aloud to touch them because all of them are sold and she was concerned about germ potential. I was able to sit in the room with them and they were all over the place. Each of them approached me to check me out. They showed no fear. I am so confident of this breeder. I am on her waiting list for the next litter - third in line - so hopeful she will have at least three babies!
She clearly is much better than the first one, so good luck and hope that mama cat will have a lot of kittens!
post #15 of 16
I am so glad you haave a good feeling about this second breeder and her cats!

The other one need not be bad at all, but when you have this question mark about her, it is always a good approach to check out other breeders just to compare. And it sounds like you have found a good one with fine cats.

Hope she will have at least three kittens next time - best of luck!
post #16 of 16
I do not know much about ragdolls, but cats do have different personalities. For example my eight year old seal point male is very private. When I got him he hid for the first few weeks. Anytime someone comes to our house he hides. Most of my friends have never seen him. Yet when there are no strangers around he is the most loving cat anyone can imagine, but he prefers me over anyone in my family.
My two younger females enjoy everyone. They do not hide at all. They love strangers and family.
I have raised all of them the same, yet Mow still is very paranoid.
In terms of the smell, that is unacceptable. I can tell you that there are ways of making a stud not stink up the house. I change litterboxes twice a day, and my stud will wear stud pants.
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