Kitty Smart: A Guide to Responsible Breeders


Every year, thousands of puppies,kittens,cats and dogs become ill or are abandoned because they did not begin their lives and/ or were not placed with proper care. Many people unknowingly buy sick and under-socialized kittens from disreputable breeders and pet stores. The result is both human heartbreak and animal suffering. It is costly - emotionally and financially.

Part of Tigger Tot Cattery's mission is to reduce the number of unwanted animals. Along with a commitment to spay and neuter, educating ourselves and others about responsible breeders can make a tremendous impact on reducing the number of animals left homeless each year – and the tens of thousands trapped in inhumane practices like kitty mills.  By guiding those who choose to buy purebred, we have the best chance of helping the greatest number of kittens,cats,puppies, dogs and people.  Anyone can create a pretty website and brochures. Please don’t be persuaded by marketing materials. The proof of a reputable breeder is in your one-one-one interactions with them.  This information has been compiled from a number of respected resources. You can make a world of difference simply by reading and sharing. If the “Does Not’s” describe your seller, please avoid them!

 ► Responsible breeders want to educate and screen  potential buyers/adopters and provide follow-up support after the purchase or adoption.

► Responsible breeders take lifetime responsibility for the animals they have bred.

► Responsible breeders: DO Insist on meeting you and your family in person or by new methods such as Skype,face book or other meeting platforms available . This is the most important step you can take to make sure you’re getting a great kitten or puppy.

►Reputable breeders NEVER sell their beloved kittens to strangers.

► DOES NOT: Sell over the internet; arrange to ship the kitten/puppy to you or meet you in a parking lot or other public location to exchange money for the kitten.  A seller asking you to make a business transaction in a public place is highly suspect.

► Reputable breeders want to check you out and protect their kittens.

► Reputable breeders want you to meet and spend time with your potential new family member.

►Meeting your kitten will help ensure that he does not have any existing health or behavior problems and that he’s being raised in a clean and appropriate environment. If the seller won’t let you visit, it’s likely they are hiding something.  Don’t fall for excuses like “We don’t want diseases brought into our cattery.” This is a sure tip off that they may be hiding unsanitary or otherwise unacceptable conditions.

►DOES: Raise the puppies in the home, not a kennel. They will  happily invite you to see where the pup has been raised.

►DOES NOT: Raise puppies outside or in a kennel or discourage you from visiting.  Your pup is going to live in a home, so he needs to be socialized to life in one from day one. That way, he can become familiarized with all he’ll encounter in daily life: people, sights, smells, and sounds. Puppies that grow up separated from people - like in a garage, basement, or outdoor kennel- don’t get the exposure they need to grow into friendly, outgoing companions.

►DOES: Ask lots of questions about you, your family and how the kitten will be cared for and raised into adulthood.

► They will also freely offer references that you can call and validate how the kittens are raised and taken care of .

►DOES NOT: Skip questions about you, your family, or your lifelong commitment to the pup or appear unwilling or unable to provide references.

► Reputable breeders want to get to know you. They’ll ask you about your family, if you rent or own your home, who will be caring for the kitten, etc.

► DOES: Happily and proudly introduce you to the parents of the kittens or at least the mother( if using a stud service ) . By meeting the parents – or, at the very least – the mom - you will get a sneak peek of the adult your kitten will become.

►DOES NOT: Prevent you from meeting the cat parents, or at least the mother. If the mom cat isn’t on the premises, the seller may be buying the kittens from kitten farms and shipping them in.

 ► Responsible Breeders DOES: Socialize the kittens to people, places, and things.

►DOES NOT: Raise the kittens without exposure to people, places and things. Socialization is positive exposure that helps kittens respond  normally to everyday situations for the rest of their lives. It is  absolutely critical that a kitten has been well-socialized. Make sure your future kitten has been exposed to men, women, children, and household and real-world environments. If this isn’t done, the kitten is at risk for serious behavior problems.

► DOES: Have a veterinarian individually examine and vaccinate each kitten and has verifiable proof of this.

► Knows about the breed’s dispositions to certain genetic problems and has the cats tested for them. Does provide a pedigree prior to purchase so you search the OFA database for health certificates (details below). DOES NOT: Have missing or inadequate proof of vaccinations, examinations, or screenings for inherited disorders performed by a licensed veterinarian. Proof of veterinary care is NOT a vaccination schedule with dates written on it by the seller. This is a common way sellers will deceive kitten buyers. True proof is paperwork from a licensed veterinarian. All puppies should have been vaccinated and examined by a licensed vet and you should be provided with paperwork that details the results of the exams.

All purebred dogs are at risk for genetic problems that are common in their breed. Reputable breeders are very aware of this and have the parents and/or puppies tested to ensure they are not creating cats that will suffer. Verifiable proof of the results of these tests should be available.

 A valuable resource to utilize for cat owners and lovers is the Cornell Feline Health Center 

At the Cornell Feline Health Center, they strive to provide help for cats worldwide today while also promoting the hope for improved feline health tomorrow. they were the first center dedicated solely to the improvement of feline health; and their history is long and proud, their future (and that of cats, too) looks even brighter, largely due to several unique aspects of their Center.Their website is :

Another valuable resource is The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research and prevention of orthopedic and hereditary diseases in companion animals. OFA has the largest fully searchable online health database in the world, with over 1,000,000 records. Each dog (or cat) who has ever had an OFA certification issued can be searched by name, part of name, or registration number. Results automatically include all OFA certifications for that dog, plus sire, dam, siblings, half-siblings, and offspring. Visit: 

  We encourage you to learn more about the health issues in your particular breed.

►DOES: Have active associations with local and/or national breed clubs, breed activities, agility training, dog shows, etc. They show a real interest in the breed other than selling dogs and abide by the breed club’s Code of Ethics. A reputable breeder is able to knowledgeably answer all of your questions – and welcomes them.

►DOES NOT: Sell multiple breeds of kitten and have little interest in the breed. Note: referencing the TICA/CFA/AKC does not make someone a reputable breeder.

►DOES: Guarantee that they will take their kittens back at any point in their lives demonstrating a lifelong commitment to the puppies and to you. Any reputable breeder will take a puppy back into their home at any point in its life if you can no longer keep it. A life-long commitment to each and every kitten produced is a sign of a reputable breeder.

►DOES NOT: Commit to taking a cat back after a certain length of time or at all. Reputable breeders commit to their for life.  

About USDA licensing: If your seller’s credentials are that they are licensed by the USDA and/or has many breeds available, this is a huge warning sign that the seller is a farm. The USDA regulates livestock production kitten and Puppy farms are regulated by the USDA are supposed to meet the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) standards of care. However, kittens,cats ,dogs and puppies housed in total compliance with the AWA are still not getting what they need to be healthy in body or mind. “Accepted husbandry practices” are agricultural practices for raising livestock on a FACTORY farm. They are not appropriate for raising puppies to be family pets. About Puppy Farms/Puppy Mills A puppy farm or mill is commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits. They can be “state-of-the-art” with hundreds of kennels, or look like the stereotypical puppy mill you see on the news with neglected animals living in filthy, dilapidated cages. Both are inhumane, contribute to pet overpopulation and cause countless animal's a lifetime of suffering in squalid conditions.

When kittens and puppies are housed and raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions without socialization they become ill and develop behavior issues.  What’s more, their moms are caged and bred repeatedly until they develop medical issues and are no longer of use. When you purchase a puppy without using care to identify a reputable breeder, you contribute to this “industry” and the misery of hundreds of thousands of animals. Resources: Pet Shops Support Puppy Farms/Mills Pet shop puppies are from breeder farms and puppy mills. No reputable breeder would EVER sell puppies to a pet shop. Puppies are typically kept in cramped quarters, are not socialized, are often ill or carry diseases. They are typically shipped to pet stores in trucks like livestock.  No – not every single kitten or puppy in a pet store is sick. But when you support pet stores, you support puppy farms and puppy mills. Your good intention of “saving this one” actually encourages the continued practice. The fastest way to stop the sale of animals in pet stores is to simply stop purchasing – and to spread the word. How to Find a Reputable Breeder You can find responsible breeders by asking for referrals from your veterinarian or trusted friends, by contacting local breed clubs, or visiting cat/dog shows, obedience and agility trials. Visit the TICA or CFA's website for a Calendar of Events for events in your area.

Always personally visit a breeder before buying a kitten or puppy. See for yourself where your puppy was born and raised and follow the guidelines above. Doing the right thing does take time and commitment. By investing the time upfront, you’ll thank yourself for the rest of your cat's/dog's life – and you will be helping to address the issue of unwanted and abandoned animals everywhere.