How to find a good/reputable breeder...
(copyrighted by Phyllis Stiebens: this is an excerpt from our new book w/a few changes added)
and has learned proper care and grooming for the breed.
1. A good breeder does health testing. If a breeder does no testing, you will have no idea what
troubles could be ahead. Testing cannot guarantee 100% healthy cats. Even cats from tested lines can
develop health problems. But get as much testing behind your baby as you can for your own sense of
2. A good breeder shows the facility of the cattery on the website. If you cannot go to the breeder’s
home in person to get your kitten, don’t be afraid to ask for more photos of the cats in their
environment. Do not buy where many cages, especially small ones, are seen. A cage may be needed in a
sick room, or a birthing room. A walk in pen may be used to keep boys separated from girls, but anyone
who has walls lined with cages is not a good place to buy from. If you are able to visit the cattery, look
for relaxed and happy Maine coons who adore their people. Some Maine coons are wary of strangers
but should not be frightened of them. Sometimes a shy adult will avoid visitors. But just be sure the
whole cattery group is not like this. Allow the cats to watch you and sniff you while you attempt a pet
and then some neck scratching. Once they allow this and are purring, you are accepted and you can
then see the personalities of the cats at this cattery. Some Maine coons are not wary of strangers and
will grab you as soon as you walk in the door. It is not normal for an entire group to ignore visitors. It’s
an individual thing and you should be able to make friends with a few within minutes.
3. A good cattery is not overcrowded. If you visit in person, ask to see other rooms where cats also
may be living. On occasion a breeder may have two or three litters close to one another and be very full
with babies, but this should not be the norm. Six adult females and a couple males, along with kittens
and a few adolescents is plenty to fill a cattery. Use your own judgment. There is no “rule” here.
4. A good cattery will be clean. You may always find loose litter on the floor and a dirty bowl in a
sink, but you can tell a clean area. If you smell urine, it is possible they have a spraying male and this
smell will not go away for some time. But take a look around and make sure that the cats are happy and
healthy looking. Be alert for dripping eyes, sneezing, skin problems or other signs of sickness (unless in
a separated sick room). Watch out for no clutter and filth around you.
5. A good breeder is transparent about potential problems or weaknesses in certain lines. There is
no disease-free line or genetic problem-free cattery. If you are being told such things, do not work with
this breeder. There are always problems of some sort and if you are told of a problem in a line or litter,
do not be afraid. This is a breeder who is being honest with you and that is an important beginning. If a
breeder is new or being mentored, they may not know the lines well and we suggest you then contact
those who are mentoring them.
6. A good breeder has a healthy diet for the cats they own and raise. Setting out kibbles and nothing
else is not a proper or healthy-enough diet for most cats. There are many types of dry food now and
some are very healthy while others are not. Since the cat is a carnivore, many breeders feed a raw meat
program which is very healthy. But not all breeders can or want to feed raw. We can talk diet with you
later, and what you want to feed is your choice. You will be able to tell a lot from observing the cats in
person. Are their eyes bright and are the cats alert and happy? Do they have healthy fur and skin?
7. A good breeder should take some time to get to know you before approving you for the purchase
of one of their babies. Some will ask for details of your home. Others may just ask what you are wanting
in a pet. Make sure you are buying from a breeder who cares about the future of the Maine Coon breed
as well as their kittens they are selling. If you are not a breeder, do not even attempt to ask for breeding
rights on a kitten. All responsible breeders will either sell their kittens with a neuter/spay agreement or
have them neutered or spayed before leaving their home. To become a Maine Coon breeder takes many
years of research, learning and showing in premiership (neutered championship class). If purchasing
from a newer breeder, ask some questions. A newer breeder should be under the “mentorship” of a long
8. A good breeder should have a pet contract that requires a basic set of rules for you to follow.
You may not always like the rules in the contract, but they are important for the cat and his future. The
basics every breeder should have you agree to is to never let you declaw the cat or allow the cat loose
outdoors. The contract should require you to neuter/spay by a certain age (usually by 7 months) and to
provide a nutritious diet and veterinary care for the life of your cat.
9. A good breeder will not allow the kittens to leave their home before the age of 12 weeks (and
sometimes much later). They will provide registration papers, although some will not give those until you
have the kitten neutered or spayed.
10. A good breeder does not continually sell ‘cheap’ deals. To provide good quality care, constant
deals are not possible to give. Sometimes a breeder will have lower priced kittens due to lesser
quality/size, an older age kitten or a spayed/neutered adult. These are fine for one-time deals. Just
remember that a rule of thumb is ‘you get what you pay for’.
11. A good breeder has a good reputation. Ask other breeders, as well as pet buyers, what they
know about the breeder you have in mind. Their experiences can help you decide whether you want to
buy a kitten from someone. Do not be fooled by backyard breeders. Kitten mills can have very appealing
websites with great pictures. They often use titles of ancestral cats and health testing results of other
catteries to look reputable. Most of them have never lifted a finger to earn any titles, let alone testing
any of their own breeding stock. So make sure you ask lots of questions before committing to a
purchase. A newer breeder may not yet know the answers to your questions and that is part of their
learning, so do not be afraid, unless they are not being mentored. If you want a kitten from a new
breeder, just ask to talk to their mentor.