The most important characteristics of a prospective cat are health, appearance, and personality. Take your time to be sure you find the right cat, so the cat of your dreams does not turn out to be a nightmare. The best way to find a purebred cat is to attend cat shows where you can meet both cats and breeders and compare them first hand.
Start by objectively considering the needs of your family. Think about what personality will fit best in your household. And what color most pleases you. Commit yourself to the process of finding a cat—they are living creatures who will become family members.
Purebred cats are born as a result of careful and deliberate decisions by the cat breeder. Breedings are planned for specific pairs of cats with particular objectives in mind. As a general rule, breeders look to producing kittens that have good personalities, meet the breed standards for appearance, and are healthy. Many breeders feel responsible for their kittens throughout their lifetimes.
I suggest that you consider the breeder as a resource for help and information—if not a partner—throughout the cat's life. With that in mind, I think you should choose both a breeder and a cat. Make sure the breeder is someone you are comfortable with, someone you can trust and rely on for help when problems arise, especially health problems. (Cat breeders collectively know more about feline health and disease than most vets, and their network with each other provides access to that collective knowledge.)
Expect the breeder and the cats to interview prospective cat buyers carefully. The breeder wants to make sure the combination of cat and people will please everybody and that the people understand and will abide by the terms of the sales contract. Be cautious about selecting a cat sight unseen: Neither you nor the cat can adequately evaluate each other and decide to live together without meeting in person.
Visiting breeders and their cats in their homes is invaluable. Observe the cleanliness of the cattery: cat hair, odors, stains, grime, etc. It is unrealistic to expect a dirty home to nourish clean, healthy cats.
Observe all the cats you see in the breeder's home. Do any have runny eyes or nose? Do their coats look drab, dull, or rough? Are they sneezing? Lethargic? Scratching? If so, they are sick. If one is sick, the others are likely to be sick.
Don't fall in love with a cat until you've made an objective assessment of their personality and health. A shy kitten will become a shy adult. Evaluate the personality of the parents because that will be reflected in the kitten to some degree. As a rule, don't buy a cat that is not healthy. Eyes and nose must be clear with no drip. No mites in the ears. No fleas. Prideful cat breeders present their cats to visitors, especially prospective buyers, well-groomed: combed, brushed, and claws clipped. If the cat is not well-groomed, consider what this means about the general level of care they are receiving.
If you lust for a BIG cat, think again. Ever try holding a 20-pound cat in your arms for 5 minutes? It's exhausting! If your heart is set on a big cat (and mine is), don't assume that means a male cat.
Expect a purebred cat to come with a written pedigree that has at least three generations. The cats in the pedigree should be identified with their full registered name (e.g., AmazingTails Captain Courageous), color (e.g., red mackeral tabby), and registration number(s).
Your prospective cat/kitten should be registered in at least one cat registry, like TICA and CFA. This registration is proof of the commitment of the breeder to the breed itself. When buying a pet-quality cat, you should get the registration when you submit proof of neutering to the breeder.
Expect a purebred cat to be sold with a health guarantee that extends for at least 10 days and allows you a full refund if the cat proves ill during that time. (The 10 days is the gestation period for a particularly nasty contagious disease.)
Two good ways to find a cat are a recommendation by a friend for a cat breeder, and cat shows. Cat shows are great for providing you immediate and up front contact with several breeders and cats at one time and place. You can compare breeders in order to clarify your likes and dislikes. You can examine individual cats as well as study the many photographs that breeders bring for display. You can learn about the breed standard. You can collect business cards and contact people after the show.
Several web sites have listings of cat shows as well as lists of breeders:
CFA, The Cat Fanciers' Association, has lists of breeders and cat shows;
TICA, The International Cat Association, has lists of member web sites and cat shows; and
MCBFA, the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association, has a list of breeders.
Don't limit yourself to breeders with websites and/or email addresses. There are many worthwhile breeders who are not electronically connected. Use the telephone!
Patience and caution will help you choose the best cat.
Expect a sales contract that guarantees the health of the cat, provides for its return if problems appear immediately, and requires the buyer to take good care of the cat in specific ways. If the buyer does not offer a contract, consider what this means about their commitment to both the cat and to you.
All my cats are sold with a contract that guarantees their health and commits the buyer to taking good care of the cat:
1. This cat is sold as a pet. Cat will never be used for breeding. It will be spayed/neutered before 12 months of age. Seller will provide registration papers upon receipt of proof of spay/neuter.
2. The cat will not be given feline leukemia (FeLV) and nasal FIP vaccines.
3. Should the cat have any difficulties or illness at any time, the Buyer will notify the Seller. The Seller will do her best to assist in finding solutions to problems. In the event of the cat's premature death, especially by unknown causes, the Seller may request an autopsy and will assist in payment therefor.
4. The cat will not be allowed outside except on a leash and under close supervision, or in a completely enclosed run.
5. The cat will not be exposed to cats that may have FeLV.
6. The cat will not be declawed. Its claws will be clipped at least every 3 weeks.
7. The cat will be groomed at least once a week, bathed as necessary, and kept free of external and internal parasites.
8. The cat will be given the proper diet in the proper amount, and will have fresh water available at all times.
9. The cat will receive frequent and kind human attention. It will not be caged, but allowed freedom within the home. It will not be left alone for more than 24 hours without daily care by a responsible person.
10. The cat is not being purchased for resale.
11. Should Buyer be unable to keep the cat, she/he will contact the Seller. The Seller retains first right of refusal to buy back the cat for $__ or to assist in placing the cat in another home of the Seller's choice. In no case will the cat be sold or given to an animal shelter, pet store, or laboratory, nor will it be abandoned.
12. Should Buyer be found to be negligent in any of the above conditions, she/he will surrender the cat to the Seller without compensation.
Oh joy, you've got your very own Maine Coon cat! Now, don't overlook two important steps:
1. Within 24–48 hours after bringing the cat home, have it thoroughly examined by a competent vet who is not hostile to purebred cats. Get a FeLV and FIP test. Check for parasites, especially worms. Your new cat should be guaranteed to be healthy, this is how you prove it.
2. If you already have cats at home, isolate the new cat until you are sure it is healthy. Many diseases and parasites are contagious, and quarantine is the best way to prevent them from spreading.
Note: Links are provided to other websites as a convenience. They do not imply endorsement. We are not responsible for the contents of other websites.