To Breed or Not to Breed

"Why would you intentionally breed cats when so many already exist that animal shelters must routinely put down unwanted felines simply because they have no home?"

This is a real and valid question and one that we ourselves had at one time. This T-shirt pretty much sums it up. The United States Humane Society reports that about 3 - 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. So why breed when there are so many cats already? Isn't that a pretty selfish thing to do?

It may come as a shock to some, but over the past years we have come to realize that controlled breeding, rather than contributing to the problem, is actually the best solution! That may seem a little counter-intuitive, but let's start by answering two questions. First, why do so many cats end up in a humane society? A few reasons that come to mind are:

  1. The cat was a stray and not being cared for.
  2. The cat was being a nuisance, stand-offish, or was ruining furniture and other household items.
  3. The cat had certain traits that made it undesirable as a pet.
  4. A pet cat had an unwanted litter of kittens, which were then taken to the humane society.

Second, why are there so many cats in humane societies that aren't adopted? The obvious answer is that nobody wants them! But here's why: Say you are interested in getting a new kitten and so you head off to your local humane society. Let's say a few different people just dropped off unwanted litters and so you find 20 different kittens to choose from. You can only care for one so how are you going to pick? Will you pick the ugliest, meanest, most unhealthy kitten you can find? Probably not! People will generally pick the cutest or friendliest kitten available. You might be looking for a certain color or personality, or even a particular breed. Either way, the cats that end up being euthanized are the ones that nobody wants.

Now here's where controlled breeding comes in. Breeding, most basically, is a means of controlling the genetics of a population in order to maintain the most desirable traits while minimizing the number of unwanted animals. A cat breeder will select certain characteristics that are desirable and work to purposely breed cats with those characteristics. So what are the results of a breeding program?

  1. Cats that are placed in homes and are not strays.
  2. Cats that have desirable characteristics and so are not un-wanted.
  3. Healthy cats with fewer medical problems.
  4. No future unwanted litters as breeders will require their kittens to be fixed and oftentimes even have them fixed before selling.

In a perfect system where all cats are products of reputable breeding, there would be no unwanted litters and the desirable characteristics would be maintained. Further, cats with genetic-related health problems would not be allowed to breed. If, on the other hand, no breeders existed and cats were only allowed to "breed in the wild," the traits that would survive would most likely be those that are undesirable in pets. These cats would become wilder and more stand-offish while those with the best hunting instinct would have the best hope for survival. There would also be no way to ensure that the healthiest cats are the ones that actually have offspring.

Now none of this is meant to discount the need for humane societies and the great benefit they are providing. But if we could keep the various cat lines as pure as possible through controlled breeding along with encouraging all cat owners to spay / neuter their pet, the need for humane societies in cities would drop considerably. We have come to see that breeding is actually very necessary to preserve and even improve upon the various cat lines. This is why we are so excited about breeding ragdoll cats. They have temperaments that make for wonderful pets and in our experience are never unwanted. A good ragdoll cat is large (but not fat), floppy, gentle, usually playful, and always beautiful. (Click here to see our description of the ragdoll breed).

Our hope is that through breeding ragdolls we can preserve and perhaps even improve upon a wonderful line of cats that we think make for the perfect pet!

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