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Registered vs Backyard Breeders

Registered breeders vs backyard breeders can be a very emotive subject for cat lovers.  What are the differences between the two and is anyone whose cat has had a litter of kittens a backyard breeder?

Let’s start by looking at definitions of these terms:

Registered breeders vs backyard breeders can be a very emotive subject for cat lovers.  What are the differences between the two and is anyone whose cat has had a litter of kittens a backyard breeder?

Let’s start by looking at definitions of these terms:

The term “registered breeder” denotes that a person is a member of one of the numerous cat registering bodies with Australia.  These are located in all states of Australia and have similar aim and objectives,  cat welfare being the most important.  Being a member of a club does not automatically make you a registered breeder.  Registered breeders have a cattery prefix or suffix to identify themselves and registered their cats using these names.  They only breed purebred cats according to the recognised standards set out by their registering club. All their breeding cats are registered and have registration papers.  Registered breeders should adhere to the rules and regulations of their clubs concerning the keeping and selling of their cats.

The term “backyard breeder” denotes a person who breeds cats and is not a member of a cat registering body and does not have a cattery prefix.  They may have purebred or domestic cats.  If they have purebred cats, their cats may have originally come from a registered breeder who sold the kittens as pet only without papers, expecting the new owners to have the kittens desexed.  They might have been given a kitten by a friend and decided they want to have kittens of their own. Or, in some cases, they see cat breeding as a way to make money, because they see lots of kittens in pet shops selling for high prices.  To these people, cats are a commodity, not an animal.

What are some of the differences between these two types of cat breeders?

Registered Breeder Backyard Breeder
Belongs to a cat club Does not belong to a cat club
Breeds only registered purebred cats of the same breed Breeds any type of cat
Breeds to improve their breed Breeds for money or “love” of cats
Knows about the genetic problems of their breed and works to eliminate them from the breed Has little or no knowledge of any genetic problems and puts any two cats together
Is knowledgeable about possible health problems and seeks veterinary advice as soon as required Has little or no knowledge of heath problems and does not take a sick cat to a vet either out of ignorance or to save money
Screens potential new owners and tries to match the kitten/cat with the best home. Sells to anyone who pays the asking price
Gives out health, vaccination and historical information on the kitten/cat at the time of sale. Is always available to the new owners for information, advice, etc. Sells the kittens/cats with no information or assistance to the new owners.
Takes back or assists in rehoming a kitten/cat that has been previously sold if the need arises Does not want to know about the kitten/cat after it has gone to its’ new home

Whether someone sells their kittens undesexed cannot be used to differentiate between a registered breeder and backyard breeder, nor whether someone sells their kittens to pet shops.

Early desexing (from 7 weeks of age) is a topic of great debate between breeders, rescue organisations, and vets.  Advocates for early altering believe it contributes to reducing the number of kittens and cats in shelters.  Advocates against it believe that it subjects the kittens to various risks due to their physical immaturity.  It is true that the vast majority of backyard breeders sell their kittens undesexed, many registered breeders do as well.  The difference is that most registered breeders sell with a desexing contract that is signed by both parties when the kitten is sold.

Some registered breeders own pet shops and sell their own kittens in their shops.  Other registered breeders do sell to pet shops.  Not every cat registering body has rules that bar their members from selling their kittens this way.  Registered breeders ARE prevented by the rules of their clubs from selling kittens less than 10 weeks of age.  Backyard breeders will sell kittens to pet shops at eight weeks.  Where someone sells their kittens has little to do with their status as a cat breeder.

Not every nonregistered breeder can be classed as a backyard breeder.  There is another type of breeder who falls between these two categories.  This is the breeder who once registered with a cat club, but for whatever reason decided not to continue their membership.  They still have registered cats and may breed only one of two litters a year and they have the knowledge gained while a member of a registered club.   They cannot be called a registered breeder, but neither are they backyard breeders churning out kittens for the pet market.

There is also the person who, due to ignorance, lets their female cat have a litter.  This may happen because they do not have her desexed before she comes into heat and she is allowed to roam outside or because they wrongly believe a female cat should have “just one litter” before being desexed.   They are not backyard breeders, just misguided in their knowledge of cats.  Most will have their female desexed after one litter.  If they do not, they can then be classed as backyard breeders.

In conclusion:

  • Registered breeders improve their breed for the good of the cat.
  • Backyard breeders improve their bank balance at the detriment of the cat.


Article written by Tracy of IceRegal.

Also see:

Buying a purebred cat   Kitten care