Do you really want to breed cats?

So, you think you want to breed Ragdolls. Or maybe you have an intact Ragdoll and you just want to have one litter.  Here are some things to consider…

1.    The Ragdoll is a relatively new breed, having just been developed in the 60s and only recognized by TICA in the 80s.   The breed standards must be fiercely protected and adhered to in order to develop a broad pool of cats that exemplify what it is to be a Ragdoll.


So, how well do you know the breed?  Do you know what all the colors and patterns are?  Do you know the genetics of how the colors and patterns are carried?  Do you know what a medium sized ear looks like?  A well muscled body?  A silky soft coat with minimal undercoat?  How well do you know the pedigrees and lines of your cats?  How much percentage of inbreeding would there be between your cats and how much is acceptable?


2.   The Ragdoll has a history of developing a congenital and often fatal heart disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  It often didn’t show itself until later in life once the cat was already breeding and passing on its genes.  Luckily, the gene for this disease has been identified and can be tested for before the cat begins its breeding life.


Do you know how to obtain a sample of DNA from your cat’s cheek and send away for the test?  Do you have the $50-$100 to perform the test on each cat?


3.   There’s a lot that goes into breeding a female Ragdoll.  How well do you know the estrus cycle of a cat?  Do you know that leaving an intact female unbred for over 3 cycles can increase her chances of developing pyometra?  Do you have the $3000-$4000 available for an emergency, life-saving spay and hospitalization?  How many days gestation do they have?  It’s important to know because a cat may sneak off to have their kittens behind your book case and then abandon the kittens leaving them to die unless you can intervene.  This leads me to another point…


4.   Birthing kittens is not for the faint of heart.  Sure, most of the time it goes smoothly and the Queen does most of the work. But what if it doesn’t?  What if a kitten gets stuck in the birth canal?  Would you know what to do?  Do you have the $3000-$4000 to spend for an emergency c-section? What if a kitten has so much mucus in its airway it can’t breathe?  Do you have the right tools and skills to open the airway?  Do you know how much weight a kitten should weigh at birth and how much they should gain each day/each week?  Would you know much to supplement if the kitten isn’t gaining enough?  Do you have the hundreds of dollars to invest in a heated incubator and nebulizer?  Would you be able to handle it emotionally when kittens that you have been bottle feeding every 2-3 hours throughout the day and night pass away?


5.   How much space do you have in your house?  Do you have room to house a male?  What about a space or two for a maternity ward?  Queens can be very protective of their kittens and will fight off any cat in the area so they may need to have an entire room to themselves.  What about a room with a linoleum floor for potty training kittens?  How about cleaning supplies?  Intact male cats may spray all over your house unless they are kept separated.  Intact females may too.  Are you prepared to clean carpets, linoleum, litter boxes, food and water dishes, messy bottoms, nail trims?


6.   Let’s talk a little about the time and expense in dealing with selling kittens.  First you need to register your cattery with TICA.  You need to set up a domain name and website and consider SOE.  You need to spend time advertising or being active on social platforms. You need to talk to potential buyers to see if it’s a good fit. You need to answer questions and post pictures and videos regularly.  Do you have a way to collect deposits and payments?  Paypal, Venmo, Zelle?  You need to register litters with TICA and instruct buyers on how to register their kittens.  Are you prepared to have buyers come into your house to pick out their kittens and take them home?


So yes, breeding cats is wonderful and fulfilling and fun.  There’s nothing more wonderful than blessing the lives of others with an amazing fluffy, sweet, cuddly, playful, 4-legged family member!  Watching the miracle of birth and being part of raising these beautiful little kittens is something to be truly grateful for!  But it isn’t for everyone.  It is something that needs to be taken seriously.  It is a responsibility, to the breed, to the cats and to the owners.