Finding the Right Breeder
This page is designed to assist people looking for a Siberian, but the basic principles apply to all breeds. The foundation of finding a breeder begins with doing your research on your chosen breed and on the breeders. Kittens are cute. That is not even a question. It is for this reason that it is important to look for the right breeder. If you don't have the right chemistry with someone, move on. The rest of the information will help provide some areas to examine that you might not know.
Don't Fall for a Scam
1. Did you find your kitten or breeder in an online classified?
While there are some reputable breeders that use those sources, the overwhelming majority are, at best, backyard breeders, and at worst scammers who don't even have the cats they claim.
2. Do the pictures seem familiar? Do they seem like they actually look like the breed?
Strange as it sounds, many reputable breeder have had their pictures stolen and used by the scammers. In one instance, they actually cloned the real breeder's website (if you see a website that ends in .cc that means it's a carbon copy).
3. Is the language broken and hard to understand?
While we have some breeders here that are not native English speakers and that may be an issue, quite often the scams are operated by people from overseas. Keep in mind there is not a kitten or any cats involved. These scams prey on people's love of animals and then they use that to take the money.
4. Do they pressure you for a sale?
This may not be the hallmark for the scams but it's one I've seen happen a lot. They want that deposit now! They also want it a method that is untraceable such as Western Union.
How Should I Find the Right Breeder?
1. Take Your Time!
I know this one is going to be unpopular for those who decide on a new kitten and want it tomorrow. But that is not the best way to go about finding the right breeder. Remember, this is a relationship you plan on having for 15+ years. Why rush it? Kittens are cute. That's a given. You can find a Siberian kitten many places. The actual trick is finding the right breeder. This is someone you really click with and who breeds with the welfare and the preservation of the breed in mind. After all, is it really that important to get the kitten on a specific date or is it more important to have a great companion and a breeder who will provide support if you need it?
2. The Kitten
So, you found kittens online. That's great. It's a great way to do it and that's probably how you find this page. So, look at the pictures you've found. Do the kittens appear healthy? Clear, bright eyes or are they goopy and crusty? Does the kitten's coat look healthy or does it appear greasy? Are the surroundings reasonably clean? The kittens should look and seem healthy, active, and clean.
3. The Parents
Be sure to look for pictures and information on the kitten's parents. I don't mean just so you can see if they are pretty although it is important for them to look Siberian. I mean, what can the breeder tell you about their health? Do they know about the parent's parents? It's great if the parents are pretty, but remember that being correct and a good cat for a breeding program doesn't just mean they are a pretty, fluffy cat but that they meet the breed's standard.
4. The Price
The average price for a Siberian kitten in the U.S. is from $1300 - $2200 depending on the part of the country and what is included. However, it is not uncommon to see breeders who never show, don't test their adults, don't spay or neuter, and send their kittens home under 12 weeks who still charge as much or more than a breeder who does. If that breeder doesn't do those things and still charges that much, ask why or find a new breeder. For example, Prekrasne charges $1900 regardless of color/gender, but our cats are shown, extensively health tested, and we include spay or neuter, vet check, microchip, a carrier. Be cautious of prices that seem far below or far above the norm.
Does the breeder you found health screen their cats? Yes, it is important to test for FeLV & FIV but that is the bare minimum even for a pet owner. As a breeder, they should be testing for genetic conditions such as Polycystic Kidney Disease, PK Def (a form of inherited anemia), and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Siberian HCM does not have a DNA test and can only be screened via ultrasound and this needs to be done by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and not the breeder's regular vet. HCM must also be tested for regularly rather than just once because it can appear at middle age. Regular testing allows breeders to watch for changes so they can act promptly and stop breeding the affected cat. It is fairly common to see breeders claim they have HCM free lines. Given that HCM is incredibly common in cats, it is unrealistic to make a claim like that. I have yet to see a pedigree that could reliably make that claim because so little testing and reporting has been done or tracked. Not testing tends to give the option for plausible deniability because if you don't test for it and you don't track it, you can honestly say "I'm not aware of any health issues."
Showing isn't for everyone and some breeders can legitimately say they've paid their dues and no longer show and others may live in the middle of the remote areas of northern MN, WY, or MT and may not have a show anywhere near them. However, for the new breeder and the majority of breeders showing is a way to actually learn about the breed. If they don't understand what the breed should look like, their Siberians will eventually stray quite far from the look of the breed.
I don't mean you should go looking for people to gossip about a fellow breeder. Let's face it, you can bet some of that gossip might be sour grapes. However, if you look up a breeder and see a lot of complaints from reliable sources then you may want to keep looking. You can also check TICA & CFA's suspension lists. Unfortunately, there have been Siberian breeders and others that are banned from registering their cats.
8. Gut Feelings
I can't overstate this one enough. Just go with your gut. I apply this as a breeder, too. If my gut tells me not to place a kitten with someone, I'll walk away. As a potential owner you should do the same thing. Someone can give you all the right answers and look great on paper, but if your gut says it's not right then listen to your gut. I tend to do this in many areas of life, not just with the Siberians.
9. Never ending Supply
Does the breeder seem to have an endless supply of kittens? A responsible breeder breeds when there is a need, a good pairing to be made, and when there are quality homes waiting. Does the breeder seem more like a "Kitten Producer" than a "Responsible Breeder?"
10. The Little Extras
I say "little" but in reality, these are the big things. Does your breeder offer a health guarantee? There should be a general health guarantee of at least 7 days but at minimum 14 days. This is because most infectious illnesses that may come from the breeder should appear during that time. Anything under a week is not long enough to account for those conditions. The genetic disease guarantee should be a MINIMUM of 1 year. Does the breeder include spay or neuter? How old are the kittens when the breeder sends them home? If they are under 12 weeks that's not good. Are the kittens vaccinated a minimum of 2x? What else do they include?
11. A few other cautions
Does the breeder seem to have a never-ending supply of kittens? Do they seem concerned more with producing quantities or with quality? Do they always seem to have sales? Breeders are not selling used cars. You shouldn't see "Flash Sale" or "Black Friday" sales or BOGOs. Occasionally breeders may lower the price on an older cat, but that is more standard.