When we decided to start this hobby we had a long discussion about having people we did not know come into our home and cattery. We have four small children and their safety comes first. We agreed that we would not allow potential kitten buyers into our home and we have stuck by that rule since starting Heart'nsoul in 2008. Yes, we have had some people comment on this and of course, they have the right to be cautious and to look elsewhere for a kitten if they do not feel comfortable, understand or respect our decision. But in 2010 we felt even better about the decision we had made when there were many reported cases of kittens and puppies being stolen from breeders homes in our area. Apparently people were coming down from the bigger cities to "view puppies and kittens", only to leave without one. They would then return later when the home owners were away to STEAL them and sell them for big bucks back home. Some heard that many of them were used as bait. Needless to say, we felt even stronger about not only protecting our human kids but also our fur-kids.
We do not expect buyers to just believe that we take good care of our cats and kittens. After all, it works both ways! We are lucky to be able to offer kitten buyers VETERINARY references, as well as past kitten buyer references and family/friend references. My vet clinic knows us very well and we feel blessed that they are willing to be references for us. At Heart'nsoul we DO put our cats and kittens health and well being FIRST. We do all that we can to keep our kittens and our cats as healthy as possible by seeing the veterinarian when ever it may be necessary and by ensuring they all receive annual vet checks and vaccines. We feed a top quality diet (good health starts from the gut!) and regularly groom and bath ALL of the kittens and cats (yes, some weeks it takes us HOURS UPON HOURS to do this!). And, equally important (if not more), our kittens and cats receive PLENTY of love from our children, ourselves and our family.
When we started Heart'nsoul we felt that even breeding cats should be pets first and foremost and our thoughts on this have not changed at all! However, our thoughts on where our cats should reside have changed. As much as we love having our cats in our home, after much consideration, we decided that building a "home away from home" for the cats was our best option.
We don't consider ourselves the luckiest breeders out there. For a while we had considered giving up this hobby that we love so much. It was back in 2008 when we brought in a cat from Nevada who arrived with many health issues, including ringworm. We can understand now why they say that it is a breeders worst nightmare. Needless to say, having the cats in our home made trying to eradicate it much more difficult. Since then we, like all breeders, have dealt with different viruses and parasites as well. And each time I couldn't help but wonder if effectively treating these issues would have been less difficult if the cats were not allowed access to areas that could not be easily cleaned and disinfected.
It is only logical to assume that if a cat is kept isolated, in it's own cage, it would be less likely to pick up a virus/fungus/parasite/etc from another cat. This is why shelters also separate and cage animals! But a life in a cage is no way for a cat to live. Like with children in a day care, if cats are all together in a cattery, they are going to get sick. But, if they are treated and in an area that can be cleaned and disinfected so that becoming reinfected is less likely and more importantly, if they are overall healthy and are not stressed (like caged cats would be) which would then lower the immune system, getting better shouldn't be an issue. It should just be considered part of breeding - part of life.
Unfortunately, any breeder that shows, any breeder that brings new cats in and any breeder that even goes into the vets office takes a chance each and every time that they will bring something back into their cattery. The truth of the matter is, "reputable" catteries are suppose to show. They need to bring new blood into their program to stay away from inbreeding and to better the overall health of their breed. And they definitely SHOULD be taking their cats and kittens into the vets! So, needless to say, any reputable cattery will deal with viruses, fungus, parasites, etc. It's just the way it is.
To help prevent and to more easily treat and rid our cats and kittens of any issues they may develop, we have transformed our attached double garage into a "home away from home" for our cats. We feel that by having an area just for the cats, that cleaning and disinfecting will be easier and more effective.