If you are new to the world of pure-bred cats, you might be initially surprised at how much they can cost. I know we were! Being in the position of breeding ragdolls for a while, we realize now why they are priced the way they are. There are a lot of expenses that go into creating and maintaining a solid breeding program with top-quality cats that are consistently disease free and healthy. We could cut corners and charge less for our kittens, but the short-term savings wouldn't be worth it. Just to give you an idea of what goes into a breeding program, here is a partial list of expenses:
- Food – We use Royal Canin, which is a top quality food with a lot of research behind it. Feeding our kings, queens and the kittens may not be the same as having a teenage boy at home, but all together they can still put down quite a bit of food!
- Litter – Having indoor cats and keeping a clean environment means scooping litter boxes twice a day and completely replacing litter once a month. We keep about 20 litter boxes between our two homes, giving our cats plenty of choices. We have found that hauling around litter makes for great exercise, though!
- Cleaning Supplies & Other Household Items – Pads designed for baby beds make great bedding for new kittens. They are soft but absorb liquids, which makes keeping a clean area for our new “babies” as easy as swapping out a few pads once or twice a day. It does create quite a bit more laundry, though, which takes some time and energy.
- Veterinary Visits – This is probably one of the biggest expenses for breeders. Each kitten gets all required vaccinations and one vet visit performed by a licensed vet. They do a complete exam of the kitten – listen to the heart, check their eyes and joints - and are able to apply many years of experience with cats to find any potential problems. We also take all our kittens in for their spay or neuter surgery and do all the necessary follow up care. All our kittens come with a photo-copy of all veterinary records. And our vets are very thorough in taking notes :-). In addition, our breeders have annual exams and shots. We also administer de-wormer and a spot treatment called revolution.
- Genetic Testing – We genetically test all our breeders making sure none are carriers of the deadly HCM gene. Now that testing is available, this is an expense that we really don't think should be optional for any ragdoll breeder. If all breeders tested their breeding stock, we could completely eliminate the genetic form of the disease in very little time.
- Breeders – Finding the right breeder can be a time-consuming process. Part of that process involves making sure any cattery we buy from has similar ideas about kitten health and breeder qualities. In addition, good breeding cats will generally cost between $1,600 and $2,000 each.
- Cat Trees, Scratching Posts, Water Fountains, Toys, etc. – We make every effort to provide a fun environment for the kittens while they are with us. We have invested in several large cat trees and play toys. In addition, we have large scratching posts around the house and work on training kittens to scratch the posts, not the furniture! We've also found that drinking fountains encourage our cats to drink more and so have invested in several Drinkwell stainless steel fountains. We use only reverse osmosis water to help protect against potential urinary tract problems.
- Registration with TICA, CFA, ACFA as well as breeding clubs such RI, RFCI, & RWF – We are registered with the major cat associations and have registered all of our breeders and kittens with TICA. We have 5 generation pedigrees for our breeders and will provide you with a blue slip to register your kitten as well if you choose. We also spend time staying current with the latest ragdoll news.
- Registration with the State – Our cattery is also registered with the state of Kansas and so we pay a fee to be inspected each year. This ensures we are operating according to state guidelines. So far we have passed every inspection with flying colors!
- Cat Shows – This is an expense we've had limited exposure to. We are currently torn about showing. Taking our cats to shows makes sure they are up to breed standards and provides a way for us to meet and talk with other breeders. At the same time, the more shows we go to, the more we are away from home on weekends and the less time we can spend "socializing" and taking care of our kittens. For us, showing will probably be a limited expense. For other breeders it can be pretty significant.
- Taxes – As a convenience to our customers, we include state and local sales tax in the advertised prices of our kittens. While not a major expense, it does amount to around $60 per kitten that we either sell within the state or deliver ourselves.
- Advertising – We're not sure where we'd be without the internet. Having a web-site has put us in contact with people from all over the country. Finding homes for our kittens sure is a lot easier in this “information age”. And staying in touch with families is as quick as typing a short email. Hosting and updating a web-site, plus getting our name out isn't without cost or effort, but we think it's time and money well spent.
In a nutshell, we want to have the absolute best breeding program we can. In order to do that, we need to charge an amount for our kittens that will cover our expenses plus provide just a little incentive to keep us going. We are pretty convinced and have found from experience that breeding done well is not a good way to make a lot of money. But it's not without its rewards! It's a joy to have kittens running around the house and it's fun to hear back from new owners. As an added bonus, we have learned a lot about photography and creating a web site in the process.
If you are interested in purchasing a new kitten from a breeder, we would encourage you to keep the above list in mind. Ask the breeder about some of these before committing to purchase a kitten from them. Not only will this show the breeder that you care about the breed and will value your kitten, but it will also help you rest more easily knowing you are buying from someone who also cares about the breed and isn't cutting any corners. If you are getting into breeding yourself, the list above might give you a general idea of the types of expenses you could expect. We hope it doesn't scare you away from the prospect but instead gives you a pretty realistic foundation on which to plan your cattery.