Catteries breeding maine coons with no respect or love of the breed or their cats are cropping up every day, especially on free advertising sites. What may initially seem like a bargain can often be far more expensive in the long run. Often your best guide is your instinct but if the breeder does not have the best interests of their cats, you and your new addition at heart then walk away. A kitten should not leave for a new homes before the age of 13 weeks.
THE RISE or DEMISE of the MAINE COON CAT
A breeders thoughts
Maine Coon Cats & Border Collies - Yorkshire, UK
Please also see our 'Finding a Kitten' page
This is entirely my opinion and things as i see it based on facts i know to be true.
This information is by no way tarring everyone with the same brush. I know there are great new breeders out there, working for the love of the breed, that gets a big thumbs up for sure, they are the future of the breed.
A couple of things that stick in my mind
An old breeder once said to me (quote) “Maine Coons used to be special. People used to say ‘oh I’ve never heard of them’ or ‘what are they, what do they look like? Now they are like ****holes and everybody has got one!” (unquote)
Also worth a mention a vet that said (quote) I am NOT anti-breeder but I AM anti stupid, money grabbing, irresponsible breeder” (unquote)
It now transpires that anyone who has the money and wants a Maine Coon cat either for pet or breeding nowadays just enters the lair on facebook, sees something they like visually (on the photo at least) and hey presto a month or two later it can be delivered direct to your door, very few questions asked. Even if its only bought as a pet, some then go on to breed. Let’s face it, your kittens breeder is not going to come knocking at your door.
With our purchase we wont look at breed standard or health any more, we will just breed because we have bought it and happen to like the cat. It seems enough to have a clear certificate or clear by parentage at least of 2 or 3 known health issues so its definitely breed quality right?. It might not be a good standard or barely looks like a Maine Coon but hey we’ve invested our recent windfall to bring it so if we breed we will get our money back.
It does make me wonder about the original breeder. How have they raised their kittens? What sort of conditions? What are their morals or ethics? They don’t know you, they don’t know anything about you or your cattery because they have spent zero time to get to know you or for you to gain their trust. You have never said you are going to show so you’re not promoting their cattery or prefix but yet they are willing to send a kitten half way around the world because …….?
With easy access from overseas numbers of breeders rocketed, springing up everywhere, in every town. You can choose any colour you want as there is never a time where they don’t have kittens available. They often keep a huge number of cats, maybe upward of 15 breeding cats, rarely if ever neuters. They also keep more cats by keeping a kitten from nearly every litter. They like the colour or some other inept reason so it can stay. No thoughts of numbers, diseases, animal husbandry, cat stress, pedigrees, breed type, thinking to the future of mating to produce quality, just keep it because you can as its quantity that matters.
Some Maine coons are barely recognisable nowadays. Yes development of a breed is inevitable and it is right but some are so very extreme nowadays they have no resemblance to the Maine Coon people fell in love with back in the 80s and 90s.
As a consequence what some people don’t realise is it is the aforementioned breeders that have hiked the prices to what they are today because they are selling at highly inflated prices the established breeders feel like their kittens, on price at least look inferior because they are cheaper which isn’t the case of course but nevertheless. The established breeder then considers people think that the more expensive ones are better quality which is not the case either but they then raise their prices in line. Sadly some excellent homes will go by the wayside as they are now becoming just totally over priced. Maine Coon kittens in some cases are now ‘triple’ the price
they were 10 years ago. Thats not inflation, that’s greed!
You usually find with good breeders you might have to wait a little while. Kittens aren’t bred with only the current demand and sales in mind. They are there with passion for their breed and spend a lot of time studying and informing themselves to give you, their babies owners, a better back up in the long term.
Unfortunately to some degree it is unsuspecting Jo Public that inadvertently keep that snowball rolling. It’s available right now so we can have it. We don’t care that it’s not show quality we just want a pet. Thats fair enough I totally understand that, but now ask yourself moving forward about the kittens breeder..… Can you go back to them with your concerns? Can they advise you on behaviours that have reared their head? Can they talk through health issues? Can they draw on experience of previous generations to help you out when you so need it? Will they take the cat back 5yrs down the line if your circumstances change? or in 6 months if you have a problem or
will you be required to sell it on Pre-loved to the first offer? I don’t mean just for a new breeder I’m talking about their support network too.
And so it came to pass……….The Maine coon as a breed became very very popular, the likes of which had never been known. It’s fantastic for the breed and Im delighted its popularity is so good. One of my motos is people should know the love of a Maine Coon. The breed you read about and fell in love with, It was the Maine Coon right? Then work to keep the Maine Coon right as a breed!
Spend your money how you will but i beg of you please do your homework, ask questions and choose a breeder with a sound knowledge or if new a good support network behind them. Use your instinct, common sense and initiative to work out who will be of the best benefit to you and your cat in the long term. Those who are working for the breed ie planning thoughtfully for the future of the Maine Coon or those who are working to sell the breed ie those you feel are selling for the money. The RIGHT breeder is not necessarily the RIGHT NOW breeder.
Can we turn the clock back 15/20 years? Absolutely not! Oh how I wish! for more reasons than the cats believe me, but how I would love to see our chosen breed still primarily bred by those who’s love the breed knows and whos passion no bounds with or without breeding. I can honestly say whether I breed or not I will always love the alluring MAINE COON CAT!
In the beginning of the Maine Coon coming to this country breeders were few and far between.
Those that had them were incredibly protective of their breed and lines, particularly if they had imported. Completely understandable as taking on board what was involved to get those pedigrees and lines imported to this country imports were pretty rare. It used to take over a year, a lot of trust between two breeders and a frightening amount of money. Many I know went to America for weeks on end to understand and subsequently bring the breed to the UK. This then involved a long long stay in quarantine with some breeders going to visit said import at the quarantine centres most days to get to know and build a relationship with their new cat. People invested an awful lot of time and money into such ventures to bring these new lines to our little island and contribute to our very small gene pool. Kudos to those who introduced such amazing cats to our shores and homes.
If you wanted to breed these magnificent creatures there were definitely breeders who would support you, advise you and mentor you. Yes it could be a bit difficult and yes the majority would contract you (some to higher degrees than others) but as time and generations moved on you had served a type of apprenticeship for the want of a better expression. Getting to know the breed,people in the breed, the breed standard, understanding characteristics, knowing health problems, then even going to the show bench for opinions, you were moving in the right direction. The Maine Coon was gaining popularity and quite rightly so as it was a fantastic breed!
It is known and accepted albeit not liked, that there have always been back yard breeders, in every breed of cat and indeed in every species of animal so to all intents and purposes this piece could apply to a lot of people. Anyway…… As the Maine Coon popularised as a breed so many adverts that you looked at seemed to be across of a Maine Coon. The majority using their size as the selling point. So they were nearly always big boned, chunky, large, going to be huge etc etc It was more or less a given that these people were back yard breeding and had actually purchased a kitten on the non active register. They simply put X with Y and produced Z. Not ideal or right but nevertheless it happened however it was fairly rare and a drop in the ocean in comparison to the number indiscriminate breeders now.
Meanwhile the pet passport had been in place for a number of years, since 2001. Even with the passport requirements you still had to ask a fellow breeder overseas to keep your chosen kitten for nearly a year. Most still required that you were a registered and reasonably small cattery, not overbreeding and that you were going to do right by them, their cat and the breed as well as promoting the breed for what it was, The amazing Maine Coon!
Cue the influx……..By 2012 those passport rules became more relaxed meaning you could get your kitten at the tender age of little more than 16wks. Great for building relationships in a kittens early months but not so good for the breed as a whole. It opened a massive floodgate and certainly from some countries in particular. It all became about pounds, schilling and pence ie Money! Youve got the money we will sell to you, anything your heart desires. You can see it on a photo and we will send it. No need for trust or building a relationship/friendship, no need for visits, no need to see the cat, no need to look at type or see what that said individual may or may not bring to your breed programme. You buy and you buy it blind so to speak.
Now, i have to admit i have done this but i did at least have the benefit of well over a decade of experience in breeding and looking at kittens and cats with a breeders objective eye. I also went back to those more experienced than myself for even more input. A lot do not have this experience from which to draw upon to make their decisions but go ahead and buy anyway.Some don’t even have any experience full stop! I got lucky to some degree as i didn’t visit this particular cat even though in years before i had been a couple of times to look at others and actually not bought because thats how it was done.