Beginning In the Cat Fancy
This page has been created to assist people new to the world of showing and breeding pedigreed cats. Many of the links I provide, and information I refer to, are related to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) because I exclusively register and show with this association.
I plan to add information to this page as time goes by. Please feel free to contact me if there's information you're looking for regarding showing and breeding, but can't seem to find it. I will attempt to answer your question and hopefully include it on this page.
Getting The Best Start
It's assumed that you've spent many hours at different cat shows in your area admiring the cats, choosing a breed that you're very attracted to, possibly speaking with breeders of that breed, even asking to speak with a CFA Ambassador in the show hall who can introduce you to the world of showing cats and explain what's going on in the show hall. If you feel like you're hooked and want to know what the next step should be, read on...
Purchasing, caring for and showing cats as a hobby can be quite expensive. It's crucial to get good information, and to understand the breed you're interested in, before investing in your first cat for show. Many times a newbie will buy what a breeder has cited as "show quality" only to find out that it's not. This unfortunately is usually realized during the new exhibitor's first show and can be embarrassing. Never assume because a breeder has told you a cat is show quality, that it is. You'll need to spend many hours looking at excellent representatives of the breed in photographs and in person to "train your eye." You should spend this time also looking at the pedigrees of these quality cats so you hopefully see trends in lines. Make note of these for future reference when you're putting your breeding program together.
This hobby can be a very involved learning experience. You should always go slow. Getting your feet wet first, before diving in and investing too much money on too many cats, is advisable. So beginning by acquiring an adult cat that you can show in the Premiership (spay and neuter) class is extremely valuable. This will give you a lot of exposure to the show process, the breed you're interested in, and the invaluable opportunity to meet and learn from people who show and breed these cats.
A good Premiership cat prospect is usually one that has already achieved a title as an unaltered cat. Exotic and Persian cats usually improve as they age. So, at least with regard to these breeds, sometimes an untitled cat or a cat with a CH title, may be a good prospect. Once you're ready to purchase, begin contacting breeders of the breed you're interested in, who appear to have titled adults that might be retired and available now or in the future.
If you absolutely insist on starting with a kitten, understand that kittens may not develop as planned. So, although you've done your research, gotten help evaluating (usually through seeing pictures and video), and been told by the breeder that the kitten is show quality, it may not be as successful in the show ring as one would hope. But alas, this disappointment can also happen to those of us who are very experienced! It helps greatly to choose a kitten from a breeder who actively shows their cats and has acquired titles on several of them. This may help to insure that their evaluation of their own kittens is as accurate as possible, but remember that nothing is more valuable than your learned ability to recognize quality. Not all things can be seen in a photograph and video. So, consider asking if the kitten's head is smooth and its teeth straight as well as inquiring about its temperament. If you're able to fly to see and pick up the cat/kitten in person, all the better.
It's more likely than not that you'll be purchasing your first cat/kitten from out of state or even abroad. Some breeders prefer not to sell show/breeding cats within their own show region and sometimes not even within their own country. This is obviously for competitive reasons. Be sure that you state where you live when inquiring about a kitten/cat they have for sale. Also, be aware that breeders normally keep their best quality kittens/cats for themselves and when they do sell a top quality kitten/cat, they often prefer it to be in the hands of a fancier who's shown successfully. This is where beginning by showing a Premier will help you acquire better quality cats/kittens later.
Breeding Pedigreed Cats
As stated above, this hobby is very involved and is expensive. The learning curve can be quite large and most knowledge will be acquired by getting advice from several sources and assessing whether that information applies to your situation. No pregnancy and birth is ever exactly the same and each female and male is different with regard to their reproduction, behavior, and susceptibility to health issues. Commonality exists within relatives and lines, so with experience and time you learn to understand what's most normal in your group of cats, but even then they'll continue to keep you on your toes.
Good books on the subject will be helpful in learning the basics. I have listed my favorites to the right. I use the Feline Husbandry book most frequently. However, you'll find yourself getting much of your most valuable advise through fellow breeders, feline researchers and those vets who support you and are open minded and curious to find solutions.
It's very important to have several resources when questions arise. Understanding cats and their health issues can be very frustrating and sometimes even your vet may not be able to satisfactorily help you. Be sure that you have a mentor who can guide you, and become a member of online e-mail groups where you can interact, to hopefully give you incite into your challenges.
Some of the more popular e-mail groups can be found on Yahoo! Groups. You will need to register an account with Yahoo! to access, join and manage your groups. Some of my favorite Groups include:
You can find tons of information about showing and breeding cats from CFA's websites. See the New Bee Program, as well as the CFA Mentorship Program. Check out CFA's book recommendations and other offerings in the CFA Online Catalog.
Cat breeders have a very large active community on Facebook. Feel free to "Friend" as many of them as you can, as well as join Facebook Groups dedicated to Persians and Exotics.
Other Cat Breeding Resources
CAT INFORMATION & CARE LINKS
Book & Magazine