To Breed or Not to Breed?
One of the most controversial topics surrounding pet ownership is whether to go through a breeder or a shelter. There is no question that cat overpopulation is a problem that plagues many countries, and that thousands experience tragic pain, suffering, and death each year. So, what is the best thing to do? Let’s consider that question now.
All Kitties Need Loving Homes
We all wish that more kitties could find safe, loving homes. Some claim that breeding is a major contributor to this problem — that every cat created through breeding directly results in the death of a cat in a shelter, because the person who purchased from a breeder now has one less “spot” open for a shelter cat. So, the argument goes that if we stopped breeding altogether, this would go a long way towards solving the problem. However, we here at the Siamese Cat Spot feel that the situation is a little more complex.
Focus On Responsibility
To get at the heart of the problem, the focus should be more on our responsibility to domestic cats in general and less on where these cats come from.
First and foremost, this means we should spay and neuter all pets. There is no reason for a household or barn cat to remain fertile. The urge to mate is natural and strong, so ensuring that there will be no “accidents” is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Sadly, too few people are willing to take the necessary steps to avert these accidents.
Secondly, only controlled, reputable breeding programs that are undertaken for the love of the breed should be supported. Responsible breeders are committed to improving the breed as a whole, and therefore focus on one or just a few specific types. They will often participate in shows to learn more about the cats as well as legal issues in the industry, to connect and work with other experts, and to enhance their reputations. (Interestingly, traditional Siamese cats are not recognized by some associations and thus cannot be shown.)
When responsible breeders sell kittens and cats as pets, they work hard to be sure their babies are happy, healthy, and placed in good homes. Kittens may be spayed or neutered early, before placement, or come with a spay/neuter agreement. Kittens are typically not released until about 12 weeks of age to ensure proper socialization. Reputable breeders should allow home visits from prospective owners so they can check out conditions for themselves, and they also make themselves available to help after the owner has brought their new baby home.
Irresponsible breeding in the form of kitten farms (and their canine counterpart: puppy mills) results too often in sickly, poorly socialized animals. The cats are overcrowded, females are bred too frequently, conditions are not clean, and the breeding is undertaken solely for profit, rather than for love of the animals. These breeders are not interested in the breed itself, and in fact may be producing cats from numerous breeds. There is little to no support for owners after they’ve purchased a new pet.
So What’s the Answer?
Cats deserve a loving home, no matter where they come from. We believe that an emphasis on education about responsible pet ownership and breeding, and commitment to spaying/neutering, will go a long way towards improving the situation for all. And to be clear, we take no issue with responsible, loving breeders since they are the reason the breeds we love can be maintained, and because they share our concern for the well-being of these wonderful animals.