I had a lovely phone call the other day, from a lady I will just call J. now J had a Tonk,, adopted as an older cat, who passed away after a long and happy life. She was very much looking for an older kitty- a Tonk- but had had some conflicting advice from her vet. Could she have a chat to me, a breeder, so see what I thought? Of course she could. Any excuse to talk Tonk.
(And no- I didn't offer her my Indigo... lol! I wouldn't be without my Inds. I know a friend expressed an interest in her, and I did even think about it, but I just couldn't.)
Basically she wanted to know about Tonk rescue. She didn't want a kitten. Well I don't know if the readers here know it, but both the Tonk clubs- the Tonkinese Breed Club and the Tonkinese Cat Club- have a rescue service, with a named co-ordinator. This isn't for rehoming ex- breeding cats, that's up to the breeder. It's for purely pet cats that have lost their homes.
It may seem that this is unnecessary, after all, we have shelters. But as we all know, Tonks are a bit specialist. If someone went to an ordinary rescue, for a typical cat (no cat is 'ordinary' of course) then they might get a bit of a shock with a Tonk! And conversely, if one's heart was set on a Tonk, one could be waiting years and years, if one ever came along. It wouldn't work, hence the breed clubs' involvement.
They do such a good job, these clubs, so I thought I'd mention them. Older kitties rock. And they do not always advertise every kitty that is available, so if one wanted an older cat, and there was nothing on the website, it would be well worth contacting them anyway- you never know. Bear in mind the clubs are run by volunteers, so the sites sometimes don't reflect the current situation.
So this should be a first port of call. Sometimes there just isn't a suitable cat at the rescue though, so if you've tried that and have had no luck, there are other things to try.
This lady who phoned had been doing just that. She said she was looking at ex breeding girls... but that her vet had warned her off. Ex breeders, he said, were unhealthy and sick due to being forced to have litter after litter until they are worn out. They were then callously dumped at the end of their breeding life once they were of no further use, and so wouldn't have been much loved in the first place. And that such a cat would make a poor pet. And she wanted to know if this was correct.
As you can imagine, I couldn't disagree more!
There may be many reasons why an ex breeding girl may need a new home. The most obvious reason is that neutering can change a sexually mature cat's character, they may become more timid. Breeders' households are usually multi cat, and a timid cat may be picked on. They may suffer stress which can make them ill, just think of the worry I have had with Ava. Put simply, a newly neutered girl may no longer be cut out for the rough and tumble world of hormonal female cats. Surely the kindest thing to do would be to find her a lovely new home?
Perhaps that vet may be talking of unregistered breeders. I am sure there are many kitten farms out there who have little regard for their babies or Mamas, churning out litter after litter, and that is very sad indeed. But the breeders I know LOVE their cats. I know because of the way they talk about them, interact with them and care for them. I know because they can weigh up the merits of single protein versus mixed source foods, know intricately the characters of all their cats and have boxes of cat toys that none of their horrors play with. (ahem!) They refer to themselves as 'Mummy'. (the shame!) They own a shelf of cat-related books and expensive litter trays because their little darlings are picky. They can talk about enrichment of the environment and spend half their income at the vet.
In short, you can just tell.
Good breeders will only breed once a year, and less if the cat seems to need a break. I don't deny that pregnancies are exhausting for the cat, but a breeder will always keep this in mind, and organise her breeding plan around the cat's needs. I didn't breed Inds this winter, and I don't regret that choice although I have missed having kittens about.
So in response to the vet, I would say raspberries to that! If you are reading this and considering an ex breeding cat, talk to the breeder, get a feel for how she feels about her cats, find out about that cat's quirks and character, ask why she needs a new home. Ask as many questions as you like. A good breeder won't mind, in fact she will have a long list to ask you- she won't be letting her baby go any old place you know!
And good luck, J, in finding your cat. We'd love you to pop back and tell us about it when you do!