2. I BREED FOR HEALTH AND PERSONALITY
The main reason I got involved with this project was because the unique and marvelous personality of the Burmese breed. They are pushy, interesting, weird, and endearing in a way no other cat is. Their personalities fascinate me. What is the point of having a cat with a fab personality that is sick all the time and going to die at age two? So, you can't breed for personality unless you breed for health. Breeding is about selecting. All breeders select for something. I select breeding cats because they have fantastic personalities and are super healthy. Honestly, working with imported and domestic cats, hitting those two targets keeps me plenty busy. If you get a kitten from me, you can rest assured I have done everything in my power to create a healthy kitten with a great personality.
1. WHY AM I DOING THIS?
I started this project because the worlds leading cat expert said the Burmese cat was on the road to extinction. That inbreeding had reached a dangerous level and needed to be addressed urgently. I love my Burmese cats and wanted to make sure they continued to exist. With my background in medicine and research, felt I could do something about the problem. Primary goal, do something to help the Burmese breed.
In the perfect world, I would send money back to Thailand to help feed cats and help keep the breed going in its native land. But, between importing cats from Thailand, feeding the cats, paying for the genetic testing, and veterinarian services, I rarely accomplish that goal.
I do this because I want to make sure the breed survives for another 100 years.
3. THE LOOK AND THE COLORS
My first Burmese was blue, and when he died, I was desperate to replace him with another blue. There was no blue kitten available and I ended up with a little platinum boy. Within minutes, his coat color became immaterial. He road home on my lap, on a seven hour ride, just happy to be there. What I discovered was that it was the personality and the companionship that I missed when Bruce faded into the night. So, the kitten you get from me may not look like the cat you had before, but, it will fill the void left by the cat you had before. (If this is your first Burmese, disregard that statement.)
I am telling you this for a reason. To fix the genetic problems with the American Burmese breed, I had to import cats from Thailand. And, though the personality was the same, the colors and the look was all over the place. In America, we are accustomed to four flavors in Burmese, Sable, Blue, Champagne, and Platinum. Well, when I introduced the Thai cats, I got those colors and a whole bunch more! When you get a kitten from me, it may not look like the Burmese cats you see at a cat show, and it may not be the color you see at a cat show. With genetic diversity come color and look diversity.
I have been selecting towards the standard four colors, but that will take a while to achieve. In the meantime, I get a lot of between-ers. You may hear me say, "Well, its something between blue and platinum, or its something between champagne and sable".
But, remember, I breed for health and personality, so, I am not disturbed by this.
5. YOU ARE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT AND PUT DOWN A DEPOSIT
My kitten requests far exceed the number of babies born here. I just have a very limited number of kittens I can make available. For this reason, you are probably going to have to wait to get a kitten. I know when you loose a Burmese, you want to fill that space back up as fast as you can, but, you are probably going to have to wait.
I operate on a deposit system. You put a deposit down and that puts you on my waiting list. Its first come first serve. When your number comes up, you get the next available kitten. I require a deposit because for me to take time to stay in touch, keep you in mind, and hold a kitten for you, I need to know you are committed. A deposit weeds out the people who are just window shopping or shopping around. When people put a deposit down, I take them seriously, and begin working to get them a kitten.
That said, this year I had a bumper crop of kittens and the wait time was very short. If the girls keep it up, the wait should be minimal. Let's say three months. But, as I have explained, my cats live in natural cat colonies and have kittens when they feel like it. If they keep feeling like having kittens, you should not wait more than three months. But, I can't promise that. I
To get on the waiting list, you send me a $200 deposit check to:
11500 Indian Spring Court,
Great Falls, Virginia, 22066
The deposit check is non-refundable. And here is why. A lot of people were putting deposits down with a collection of breeders, including myself, just waiting to see who could get them a kitten quicker. That's called hedging their bets. Then they call and say, sorry, I no longer "want" a kitten, can I have my deposit back? I was taking these kitten buyers seriously and I was being played. It takes time for me to communicate with people, keep them posted as to where they are on the list, answer their emails, etc. I was super annoyed every time someone just cancelled a kitten reservation like it didn't matter. This happened and it happened a lot. I have the expectation that if a person goes on my waiting list, barring death or dismemberment, they intend to pick up a kitten. I plan matings to fulfill my waiting list.
If you knew the number of people who took hours of my time, talking and writing, to just buy a kitten at a cat show or from another breeder, and want their deposit back, it would astonish you. I do this to feel good, and people taking my time and wanting their deposit back, made me feel bad. Problem fixed. Deposits are non-refundable.
So, once you are on my waiting list, I will let you know when your name is reaching the top of the list, and when you can anticipate the arrival of your personal stalker….. I mean loving Burmese side kick.
The kittens cost $1200. I know its a lot of money for a cat, but, that is what they cost. The price just recently went up because the cat food expenses were killing me. Well, actually, every expense associated with this cattery has been on a steep rise for the last two years. Heating costs, cleaning costs, medicine costs, you name it, has gone up. I subsidize this little hobby of mine, but, the amount of subsidy required crossed over into unmanageable. So, sadly, my prices had to go up. And, if costs keep going up, the price of kittens may go up again.
And, to answer your question before you ask, you will not get a discount if you buy two kittens. No one, and I mean no one gives me a discount on cat food, cat litter, heating bills or anything else associated with breeding cats. When I start getting discounts for bulk buying, I will start offering two for one deals.
7. The Health Guarantee
I do every thing in my power to create healthy cats, and that has included importing cats from Thailand, only breeding unrelated cats, tons of genetic tests, good food, healthy home environment, and more. I do everything I can to make a healthy kitten.I have done everything I can to make sure the kitten will not develop a genetic defect down the road. I have done everything I can to send you home with a kitten that is healthy the moment you take it home and will stay that way. There is nothing more I can do to make healthy kittens.
When you buy a cat from me, you must take it to a vet to be inspected within seven days of the purchase. If the vet determines there is something wrong with the kitten, you can bring it back to me and receive a full refund.
After that, I cannot assume responsibility for the health of the cat. I have lost chain of custody of the cat and no longer control what happens to the cat and how it affects their health. Vaccines, by the way, although necessary, are not harmless. I have not had a kitten die from vaccination, but, it happens. It happens with people and it happens with cats. I tell people to keep their cats inside and away from other cats. Because other cats carry diseases that the cat can pick up. If you babysit your daughters cat for the weekend, guess what, your cat just got exposed to god knows what. Does your daughters cat go outside, does it have FIV or FELV or worse? Again, all of that is outside of my control.
I just got a call from a kitten buyer whose so called "inside cat" got run over. Did the car run into the house? I think I would have seen that on the news. On closer inspection, it was an inside cat UNLESS it got out. Like with HIV infection, safe most of the time does not count with people or cats.
Once the kitten leaves here, I loose control of its health and cannot be responsible for what happens to it. I cannot guarantee that which I cannot control.
That said, in the last 10 years I have probably produced 150 cats. Of those cats, I have had reports of three cats becoming defective. The calls were a bit odd. One called to say their cat had FIV, an infectious disease, which my cats don't have and are tested for regularly. I dont know where it got FIV but not here. Another called to say their cat had FIP. FIP is a weird disease and any cat can get at any time. It is more likely to affect purebred cats(70% of cats that develop FIP are purebred cats) but my cats are not purebred. I mean, they have lots of different imported random bred cats up in their mix. So I dont think they fit into the purebred cat box.
Beyond that, it tends to happens with cats that experience poor sanitation and have lived in over population at some point in their life. My cats are not inbred, they don't live in over population, and I have really great hygiene practices. So, the chance of one of my cats developing FIP have been have been reduced because al have eliminated the known risk factors.
And here is the part that drives the doctor in me nuts. Unless it is a random case of FIP that develops in a cat that is not inbred, does not come from overcrowding and poor sanitation. So, its a thing that can happen even in cats that do not experience the known risk factors. I hate random. It is something any cat can get at any time. But, you can reduce the risk factors.
I think all done and said, I have a pretty low number of problem kittens. Because, I imported cats from Thailand to improve the health of the carts and it has worked.
OH.... I had one cat that did not grow. Literally, at a year it still weighed a pound. Not surprising, eventually its health deteriorated. I replaced that kitten because clearly there was something wrong with the cat, on a genetic level, and that did happen here. In medicine, those are called "accidents of nature". So, I have replaced a cat which clearly had something wrong with it and that wrongness started here. I am a reasonable person. If there is something wrong with the cat, and its my fault, well, then its my fault. Fortunately, I just have not head to deal with sick kittens much so it has not been an issue.
My promise to you is that I have done everything I can to make a healthy cat that will live a lifetime. I think I offer a promise more than a guarantee. If you want to know how much time I put into making a healthy cat, peruse this website. Lots of time. I feel I have done everything I can do to make a healthy cat. I avoid all the pitfalls. The cats are not inbred. The cats live in small numbers in happy cat houses. A vet comes here once a week to check their health. They eat great food. Blah, blah, blah. I promise you, I do and will do everything I can to make you a healthy kitten.
Just in case you don't know, when breeders want to insult another breeder, they say, "oh, she is just a backyard breeder". I was not entirely clear on what that meant but I knew it was some sort of insult. I didn't especially care until a breeder informed me that another breeder said I was a "backyard breeder". I decided I better find out what it meant. Not being on the cat circuit, I had to call one of my "in the cat know cat breeder friends" to learn about the insult hurled against me.
Though getting a clear cut definition was not easy. I learned a backyard breeder is someone who breeds cats in their garage. Or a person that does not show their cats at cat shows. It can also mean you sell breeding cats to people who do not display cats in cat shows.
Breaking news. I don't show. I dont have time. I am full on busy and if I have a free week, Im going to Paris. Or Madrid. Frankly, even I did have a surplus of time, I would not bring my cat to a show. There are too many infectious diseases floating around and I dont want to drag anything from a cat get together to my cats. Not so much to my cats, but, to my kittens. They get things. They dont have a competent immune system. I don't even like taking my cats to the vet. The vet comes here to avoid exposure to sick cats. Guilty of crime one.
I dont have a garage so it cant breed cats there. I have six purpose built cat houses with climate control and outdoor runs and where we breed cats. Oh, and they are spaced apart and spread around my 10 acre farm to prevent cross contamination.
Now, I do give breeding rights to people who do not show. Sadly, cat breeders are dropping like flies. Lets just say a lot of cat breeders I once knew have gone to the big litter pan in the sky. So, whenever anyone expresses interest in breeding, and is like minded regarding breeding for health and personality, I encourage them. We need more breeders. I know you think its a glamorous job, but, in reality, its a lot about cleaning litter boxes. Its not for everyone. So yes, I sell breeding cats to people who do not show.
I guess that makes me a backyard breeder. Let me be very real here. I barely have time to brush my teeth and stay on top of these cats. Maybe I can't manage my time and I am deficient in some regard, but breeding for health and personality keeps me so busy I have no free time. None. No time for lots of things and that would include cat shows.
So rather than whince, I have decided to embrace my "backyard" breeder diagnosis.
But in addition to being a "backyard breeder", I am other things. I am a doctor with a PhD in disease prevention with 30 years in the disease prevention industry.... who directs 14 years of medical education and decades worth of experience in disease prevention towards creating a healthy cat. And I have been breeding cats off and on for 35 years. Oh, and I live with a medical doctor who has also turned his attention to creating a healthy cat. So, we are two doctors who sit around working on making a healthy cat. We don't do it in the backyard, but, we do do it. We mostly do it in the dining room over coffee. So, I think it would be more accurate to call us "Dining Room Breeders".
9. Getting a Kitten into your hot little hands
We do not ship. It is strictly pick up at the farm. Due to the nature of where we live, the cost of shipping a kitten is ridiculous. The kittens have to have a health certificate($200), a carrier($50), someone has to drive the kitten to the vet to get the certificate(3 man hours or $75), drive the kitten to the airport(4 man hours or $200), and the airfare is no less than $250. So, with no glitches, you are talking about an add on fee of $775. And I don't always have someone to pay to do all the running around. Lastly, on any given day, the airline can cancel a shipping reservation due to weather conditions, too hot or too cold. Perhaps someday I will work the kinks out on this and offer shipping, but, at the moment, it does not make sense.
As for picking up your kitten. I have kitten pick up weekends. This means that when a litter is ready to go home, you will be advised of the date of the kitten pick up weekend. When your name comes up on the wait list, and I let you know of the pick up weekend date, and you come and pick up the kitten. If you can't make it that weekend, you maintain your position on the wait list. When the next litter becomes available, I will let you know about the next kitten pick up weekend, and hopefully you can make that weekend.
Kittens are picked up when they are 10 weeks old. There may be extenuating circumstances, like say a litter gets a cold, and they need to stay longer. But, I have found 10 weeks is the best age to get them into their new homes. They adapt quickly to their new environment at that age. While I do my best to provide cats with the best possible NATURE, the new parent has to provide the NURTURE component. The earlier this starts, the better the cat will be as an adult. Also, most of my moms are done with the kittens at that age and it is time for them to go from THEIR perspective.
So for those reason, I pick a kitten pick up weekend at the moment that is most ideal for the kittens. My priority is getting kittens into their new homes when it is best for them. This may inconvenience the human picking them up, but, my focus is the kitten and its welfare.
People have asked, can you keep the kitten for another three weeks? That weekend isn't good for me, can I come the next month? The answer is no. Because a three week delay represents a loss of valuable socialization time that needs to occur with the kitten in their new home.
More over, it works best for me. I breed cats. That is a full time job. I have zero free time. NONE. People want a healthy cat, well, making those happen takes all my hours and then some. There was a time when I tried to re-arrange myself to meet the scheduling needs of kitten buyers and I became a travel agent and a personal secretary and a full time cat breeder. I was half crazy trying to arrange 7 peoples travel plans to pick up their kittens and attend to my daily chores. So, I developed kitten pick up weekends.
Though I know Americans are accustomed to the customer always being right, and, in some arenas perhaps they can be. But, not here. I know cat breeding seems a glamorous lifestyle, likely filled fine living, riches and great chocolates. Well, its not. In fact, it is a touch and go business which at any moment, is at the edge of not being a sustainable enterprise. I am talking razors edge folks. In order to make it work, I have to economize my time. Thus, kitten pick up weekends work for the kittens and it works for me and that is how I handle it.
And, 95% or the time, it works out just fine. People get the healthy kitten they want and everybody is happy. 5% of the time, I just piss people off. But, I am happy with my 95%. Because, I am a professional, I take this seriously, do the best job I can, and if me sticking to my guns makes a few people mad, oh well.
COLORS AND SHAPES YOU MIGHT GET
Dr. Douglas Schar and Dr. Anatoly Vinokur
Things You Should Know about Getting a Kitten from Me
Things to know to decide if you SHOULD get a Kitten from Me
4. I TAKE MAKING AND HOMING KITTENS VERY SERIOUSLY
To do something to improve the health of the breed, I have to create cats. Some I keep for my breeding program and some I place in homes. But, I take putting kittens into homes very seriously. I let them come into the world, and, I have to make sure they end up with a good life. This will make me sound like a total cat dork, but each of these kittens is a special little creature, and I need to make sure they a go to a good home. So, I am picky. I do ask questions. I listen. If I like what I hear, great. If I don't like what I hear, end of story. Because I do not want the bad karma associated with knowingly putting a cat into a bad home.
My new favorite is people who send kitten requests with no punctuation or sentence structure. "Got kittens how much". Hey, if you don't have time to punctuate, you don't have time to have a pet. If you don't have time to write a complete sentence, you probably should stick to goldfish.
I live in reality and I know people are not adopting a child, but, I am still responsible for making sure the kitten ends up with a good life. So, please don't be offended if I ask pointed questions.
And here is a hint. I am listening. I do hear what people say. I know listening is not very popular at the moment, but, I am fully engaged in the listening process. When people contact me looking for a deal, I wonder, can they afford food and vet visits? When people contact me and are rude, I wonder, will they be rude to my kitten.
Then there is the issue of declawing. I think any person who would declaw a cat should have his or her finger nails pulled out first and any vet that is willing to due the procedure, should have his or her finger nails pulled out. De-clawing is vile. It is a cat. It has nails. You have to trim the nails. If you do to have time to trim your cats nails, you dont have time to have a cat. Again, get a goldfish.
I imported cats from Thailand(you just try that), I carefully plan matings, feed my cats the best food, have a vet come to the house weekly, scoop cat crap, and attend kitten births. Kittens do not pop out of micro-waves. Its a huge amount of work, which I like to do, but, a whole lot goes into getting a kitten to the point they can go to a home. I am picky about where the cats end up.