At a glance:
Why do purebred cats cost so much?
Because it costs a lot to breed! That’s the short answer.
Many people think that cat breeding must be a profitable business due to the cost of kittens, but for the majority of cat breeders, this is just not true. The cost of a purebred kitten reflects the expense of bringing these cats into the world. In this article, we take a look at just some of the costs to breeders of cats.
Setup and maintenance costs:
Setting up a cattery comes with a lot of set up as well as ongoing costs.
Queen (female) and stud cat (male):
At a minimum, it will be necessary to buy one female cat with breeding rights. She must be show and breeding quality, which means she is an excellent example of the breed. The breeder who has produced this female could of course use her for themselves in their own breeding programme. To sell her, she will go at a premium price.
The gene pool for a lot of breeds is not as large as the wider population. Breeders must choose lines carefully to ensure they are not inbreeding. Often, particularly in countries such as Australia, this will mean importing lines from overseas. So not only are they paying a premium price for the cat, they have the added costs of additional vaccinations and veterinary checks, flights and quarantine.
One breeder I spoke to said an entire female Maine Coon costs between $2,500 and $3,000 and an entire male is in the range of $3,000 to $5,000. Importing a breeding cat will cost between $12,000 and $17,000, with many breeders insisting on strict contracts before they can purchase a cat.
Housing a stud (entire male cat):
The costs rise if you plan to have your own male (called a stud). It will be necessary to house him separately to avoid unplanned litters and spraying.
Most breeders set up a stud house, which is a large enough to accommodate the stud, with separate quarters for visiting queens. The stud house must be secure, well ventilated, protected from the elements, easy to clean and large enough for the cat to exercise as well as house his litter tray and a comfortable bed.
A stud cat is not recommended unless there are enough female cats for him to service.
New breeders are better to start out small and slow with one or two kittens, and use the services of an outside stud. This avoids the necessity of separate housing for an entire male cat.
Depending on the breed, stud fees can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Health and genetic testing:
Certain breeds of cat have a higher incidence of genetic disease such as hypertropic cardiomyopathy and polycystic kidney disease which breeders must rule out in their breeding cats. There are a number of ways this can be achieved such as genetic tests, or screens for certain diseases such as hip dysplasia and deafness.
Here is a list of many diseases which can now be tested for. Note: Not all breeds will need all or any of the tests.
A registered breeder must be affiliated with one of the numerous cat councils which are located in most countries. Annual fees to remain registered, plus fees to register kittens are required.
The goal of cat breeding isn’t to produce more kittens, it is to advance the breed. To produce the best possible progeny and expand lines. This costs time, and money.
Exhibiting cats is an important part of being a cat breeder so that the cats can be judged against the breed standard. Each show costs money to enter. In addition to show fees, the breeder will also pay for show curtains, a bed, and in some cases, a show cage as well as transportation, meals and accommodation.
All cats require veterinary care, at an absolute minimum, an annual health check up as well as regular parasite control for fleas and worms and vaccinations.
- The queen will need a clean bill of health (as well as proof she is FIV and FeLV negative) before she can mate with a stud. Pregnancy can be confirmed by a veterinarian and after the kitten has given birth, a health check of both the queen and her kittens are necessary.
- Annual health check of all cats (every cat should see a veterinarian once a year).
- Vaccinations of all cats, including two vaccinations for the kittens.
- Emergency medical treatment which can include disease, infection, difficulty giving birth, which may necessitate a caeserian section.
All cats, but in particular breeding cats, and their kittens require a premium quality diet to maintain the best possible health. Queens and kittens require a kitten diet, health adults, a maintenance diet. The type and brand of food is of course up to the breeder.
As a pregnancy progresses, the queen will need to eat more food, which is higher in calories (kitten food is best). Kittens start on solids from 4 weeks of age, and the amount of food consumed will increase as the weeks progress. A fully weaned kitten will eat 4 times a day.
Cat breeding takes up a lot of time, which can include:
- Cleaning litter trays and floors
- Feeding and grooming cats
- Cleaning the stud house
- Care of all cats
- Socialising kittens
- Time playing and interacting with the stud
- Answering kitten enquiries over the phone or email
- Updating website or social media
- Preparation, travel to and from and exhibiting at cat shows
- Travel to and from the veterinarian for desexing, vaccinations, health checks
Kitten specific expenses:
This section looks at just how much money it costs to raise kittens from birth to 10-16 weeks, when they are ready to go to their new home.
The majority of cat breeders now desex (spay and neuter) kittens prior to them going to their new home. This is the only guarantee that the kittens won’t be used to breed with in future, which is not only detrimental to the kitten, but ensures only registered breeders are breeding cats to improve the breed.
It is compulsory in Australia for kittens to receive a microchip prior to going to their new home. This is the only permanent form of identification and we recommend this even if it is not a requirement in your country.
All kittens should have received at least two vaccinations prior to going to their new home. The minimum is the F3 vaccination, however, local rules may require additional vaccinations such as rabies.
While most breeders will offer a 30 day health guarantee on kittens sold. Breeders do everything they can to keep kittens produced healthy, sometimes things go wrong and the breeder will pay veterinary costs, of should the worst happen, replace a kitten who has passed away if they are at fault.
Most breeders will send kittens to their new home with a kitten pack. This will contain printed instructions about the kitten, the food the kitten has been eating, what to expect in the first few weeks and the kitten’s pedigree papers (which is proof the kitten is the breed it is claimed to be and it has been registered with the appropriate cat council).
Along with the printed information and pedigree certificate, the kitten pack will contain:
- A sample of food
- Cat toys (not always)
- 30 days health insurance (not always)