Celia Haddon - Cat Expert

Understanding animals through their behaviour



Start with the International cat care website (www.icatcare.org) and look up hereditary diseases or disorders and see which apply to which breeds. Note these down. This is important when you choose which breed. If you are the UK, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (www.gccfcats.org)has really good details on how to choose a good breeder and their breeders follow a code of conduct (www.gccfcats.org/About-GCCF/Breeder-Scheme. )
In addition do the following:

  • Never buy online without visiting first. Never buy off the back of a van. Never buy somebody who offers to deliver (so you can’t see the conditions of the home.) Never buy if you don’t see the kitten with its mother and the rest of the litter. Just seeing the kitten with an adult cat means very little.
  • Never buy from anybody who says: “We always have kittens available.” That is a kitten mill.
  • Be prepared to wait for the right kitten.
  • Be prepared for the breeder to investigate you. Good breeders want kittens to have a happy home.
  • Is the mother cat and kittens kept in the house or in a pen? You want a kitten that is brought up in the house. If there are lots of cat pens in the garden drive away.
  • How do you socialise your kittens?  Avoid the breeder who doesn’t know what this means or gives a vague answer. If you have a dog, make sure the kittens have been brought up with a dog.
  • Can I come and visit before the kittens are ready? Check it out before committing yourself.
  • Are your kittens vaccinated? Good breeders vaccinate their kittens before selling them. Run a mile from breeders that don’t believe in vaccination.
  • Discuss any or all breed disorders (look at icatcare.org for these) with the breeder. For instance, ask if she has a certificate showing the mother is free from PKD (polycystic kidney disease) if the breed has this problem.  If not, do not buy. Your cat is likely to die young if it carries the PKD gene. There are also genetic tests for progressive retinal atrophy and other disorders.
  • Vet and vet nurse’s recommendation will be helpful but can only be completely reliable if they have seen the home conditions. (Untrained veterinary staff, such as receptionists, may not be reliable.) You must investigate further.


  • If there are too many adult cats in the house, do not buy. More than about 12 adult cats means this is a breeder for profit or an incipient cat hoarder. Kittens in these homes are more likely to come with diseases.
  • Runny eyes (particularly important for breeds with snub faces) or with snuffles in any of the kittens or household cats are a very bad sign. Do not buy.
  • Does the kitten approach you? Can it be handled? If it cowers away, it hasn’t been properly socialised.
  • Remember…You must see the mother with her kittens, not just the kitten or kittens. Sometimes bad breeders keep cats in a barn and just bring out the kittens. Run a mile if this happens. This is a kitten mill.
  • Report a bad breeder with unhealthy cats to the RSPCA and the local authority.

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