But before you start googling for a stud for little Mitzy, please ask yourself the following questions to see if Scottish Fold breeding is right for you:
1.) Do I have enough disposable income?
These are living creatures and it’s impossible to predict what will happen. If a couple of thousand dollars for an emergency C-section would drain your savings, then breeding is not for you. And even pet ownership should only be ventured if you also get pet health insurance.
You should expect to pay several thousand dollars for quality, pedigree cats with breeding rights (each!), but don’t forget to set something aside for unplanned emergencies. You might be able to lower the initial investment by partnering with an established breeder to start out with – and this is a good way to watch and learn, too. (see 5.)
Don’t forget: These are living creatures and anything can happen! As our Breeder Experiences below demonstrate.
All photos of Tulip and Quill appear courtesy of M. Fox. Follow them on Instagram: foldielocks
2.) Is my house big enough?
Do I have enough rooms to keep my unaltered males separately? Are there quiet areas where a new mama with babies won’t be disturbed? How attached am I to my carpets and furniture?
Cats are not large animals on their own, but they need some space to run and jump, climb, play and of course take cat naps on various comfy beds and perches. There needs to be numerous litter boxes and feeding stations which aren’t too close to each other.
And when you’re a breeder, you can’t keep all of your cats in the same area – or you woudn’t have any idea which cats are breeding with which, for starters. Plus, there would be fights over territory and just general mayhem.
3.) Do I have enough time? Will I have help?
We all know how demanding our little fur babies are of our attention – and that they get jealous of anything that gets in the way. This could be the computer screen, our jobs, our kids, our partners or other animals. And, no they don’t understand, if you have several cats to take care of. They are each furry little snowflakes, who want your undivided attention. ❄️
When you’re a breeder with a lot of cats, you may start to feel snowed under with all that there is to do: more to do at mealtimes, lots of cat boxes to clean, vet appointments to make and keep and you need to spend some time online so that people know about you.
But your kitties still want and even need lots of your attention. If you work full time on top of all this, and don’t have family members to help you, you could end up with unsocialized kittens who are afraid of people. And no one wants that.
4.) Am I willing to invest at least a year in learning about the breed, cat breeding in general, including colors and genetics?
Before you zero in on the specific breed, you want to work with. You’ll need to become educated about what breeding is all about. One breeder was kind enough to share some books she recommends for people who are just starting out: The Book of The Cat by Michael Wright and Sally Walters; The Catbreeder’s Handbook by TIBCC Publishing.
Please keep in mind that Folds are not a cat breed for beginners. You need to be able to plan a breeding program where you never cross Fold with Fold, so it’s recommended to keep Folds or straights of one sex and Straights of the other. And you have to watch out for things like inbreeding, overbreeding and you will want your females to be at least 18 mos. – 2 years old.
You are not going to find all of the information you need in a single book and are going to need a mentor, which leads us to our next question…
5.) Do I know a reputable breeder who is willing to mentor me?
While books, a knowledgeable vet and the Internet are all helpful, nothing is more valuable to a newbie breeder than a patient and experienced breeder who is willing to answer lots of questions. And you need to choose wisely, because if you align yourself with someone who does not have a good reputation among breeders, that is going to taint your own breeding program as well.
Other things to consider before you actually start breeding are: You will need to choose the association, where you want to register your cattery. Do you plan on showing your cats? Do you already have a good vet you can work with?
And most importantly: The breeding cats you base your cattery on will decide if your own kittens are healthy and meet the breed standard. Be extra careful and get documentation that these cats have been health tested. Ask around before committing to the cats from a particular breeder. Impulse buying a cute cat online with no knowledge of the breeder, its pedigree, the colors and fur lengths it carries is not the way to choose the cats your cattery will be founded on.
Talk with your mentor about setting goals for your breeding program and how you can achieve them.
6.) Am I willing to give up vacations because I can’t leave my animals?
Breeders are tied down to one place. That’s because if you have a lot of animals, you will not be able to leave them for long periods. If you love to travel, breeding is probably not for you.
7.) What is my motivation?
If you just like playing with cute kittens, that is only a small part of breeding. It’s actually a lot of work – and a certain amount of heartache (some kittens may not survive, for example). The only valid reason to breed is to better the breed. But if you don’t know how to achieve this, then you’re not ready. If your main motivation is to make money, it’s unlikely that you are going to be a good breeder.
8.) Can I handle setbacks?
The female you’ve been waiting to breed for 2 years may develop a condition where you aren’t able to breed her and she has to be altered. Your cats or kittens could get sick – and the more cats you have, the higher the vet bills. You could have entire litters of Straights – and everyone on your waiting list wants a Fold. There is a certain amount of cattiness among breeders. How would you feel if someone says something negative about you, your cats or your breeding program and it gets back to you?
9.) Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make sure my kittens have the best possible start in life?
This includes both extensive and expensive health testing and selective breeding. You have to be willing not to breed an absolutely beautiful cat because she has a hereditary health issue of some kind – or one of her littermates does (i.e. same parents could mean she’s a carrier). If you are someone who cuts corners if nobody’s looking, then you are not going to make a good breeder.
10.) How will I handle it if one of my kittens has issues after I’ve sold him?
Are you willing to stand by your animals for life? Would you help rehome any of your kittens after they are grown up, even if it’s beyond the guarantee period? Are you willing to get involved in breeding groups and/or the show circuit to learn everything you can and build your reputation?
Please consider all of these things and talk to a Fold breeder before deciding to take the plunge. It’s not as simple as it sounds and you need all the facts before you decide to start bringing living creatures into the world, who can feel pain. It’s a huge responsibility – and it’s not for everyone.
I’m not a breeder myself, so all of my information comes from chatting with some very dedicated people who are. I sent some of my breeder contacts a list of questions:
- What advice would you give to other breeders?
- What do you wish someone had told you about?
- What’s the hardest thing about breeding?
- How many hours do you spend per week?
- Have you noticed any particular character traits in the people you consider good breeders?
And here’s what they said:
Breeder 1: A Former Fold Breeder
The thing that I hadn’t realized would be such an issue is the health problems you have to deal with like HCM and how they can completely derail your breeding plans. I also thought it would be easier for me to place retired cats but I wasn’t cut out for that either.
I think one of the difficult things too is that very few breeders are willing to work with new breeders. You pretty much have to import cats from other countries and that is a huge risk in itself. There isn’t a lot of recourse if things go wrong and you can be out a lot of money.
When I was breeding, I easily spent two hours a day with cleaning, taking care of kittens, grooming, responding to emails. When I was showing, there was even more time spent every week doing show baths and traveling to shows. It is so much more work than I had anticipated and keeping breeding cats is very different from pet cats. They are very loud, especially females in heat, and if you’re a light sleeper like I am this can be hard to deal with.
The good breeders I’ve encountered were willing to listen to input from other people, and had some animal experience or background already. They also went to shows to meet other breeders and get feedback on their cats,
Breeder 2: A Current Fold Breeder
What advice would you give to other breeders?
What do you wish someone had told you about?
So much can go wrong… I’ve had a cat die from cancer prior to ever queening and she was from one of the biggest, most reputable breeders in the world. The other queen that came at the same time would not stand to breed. I tried with multiple studs. Of the next 2 queens – only one bred, the other was spayed and petted out at 2 years old, never having had kittens.
On to the next 2 girls… One had a miscarriage & never had heat again & the other had litters of 5, but no more than 1 or 2 kittens ever survived past the first week.
After years of spending to buy new girls, it finally worked: I eventually found a breeder that I ended up buying 5 girls from over a 1.5 year time span that I had success in breeding with, but even one of those girls did not breed and was spayed at 2, never having produced a litter.
What’s the hardest thing about breeding?
Some of the hardest things are: blocking off my schedule to watch for kittens, being up 24 hours plus with a slow labor, cancelling vacation plans to nurse kittens… I had one mom who refused to lick kittens to potty them, so we had to cancel our vacation, just to make sure the kittens were eliminating.
Most of my females spray once they get to 2 years, so not only the boys need their own private rooms, but girls will spray as well. If you have something you love, be prepared to have it peed on.
I had to rip out all of the carpet. I’ve replaced and thrown out at least 2 couches a year… I’m spending $60K right now to add living space for the cats.
The boys will even fight the girls. And, of course, intact males cannot live together. They fight to the death.
How many hours do you spend per week?
I work throughout the day, every day, ending my nights checking on all cats even at 1 am. With litters, I easily work 12-hour days between cleaning, taking photos, client correspondence, medicating, clipping nails, supplemental feeds… Every day of the week. No days off.
The house gets dirty, as if you weren’t cleaning it every day.
Have you noticed any particular character traits in the people you consider good breeders?
Good breeders can’t be lazy. They should be honest & moral to do right by the cats. And by the people who purchase them.
Good breeders put the cats’ needs above their own comfort.
There is a lot that is hard, as you can see. My least favorite is not getting enough sleep when a cat is in labor and sometimes sitting with them for days on end, watching & waiting. There’s also the constant worry when you take a chance to have a 2-day vacation.
Planning to be gone longer than 4 days gives me anxiety and I badly want to see the world, but we are tied down by the cats.
Breeder 3: An Anonymous Breeder’s Perspective, who posted to Facebook
Dear Interested Kitten Buyers,
Trust me, I get it! It sucks being told time and time again, when reaching out to good breeders, that they have nothing available or they have 1-3 year waitlist. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a frenzy of people looking to adopt pets of all kinds. I understand that you do not want to wait that long for a well-bred kitten when you are ready for one now….heck even tomorrow!
But, while I hate to be brutally honest, backyard breeders, kitten/puppy mills, and scammers only exist because of people being too eager (and often times impatient) for a kitten. The public who are buying these cats and kittens are the reason why they exist.
At the end of the day, as much as I would love to educate people on the importance of shopping responsibly, we live in a world of getting what we want and getting fast. Hey, even I have Amazon Prime! I GET the perks of being able to access something on demand, but buying a pet should never be an impulsive decision, nor should it be as easy as an Amazon purchase.
I cannot tell you the number of people that have reached out to me for a kitten, and I have to break the news of the wait period. Then the following week they are messaging me about the sick mix they impulsively bought from a “breeder” on Craigslist. Mind you, I am always willing and WILL offer any guidance I can to these impulsive buyers, but my first question is always ‘What did your breeder say?’
And do you know what their reply almost always is? They ‘don’t know’ because the breeder disappeared the second money was handed over.
A backyard breeder doesn’t necessarily mean a large scale kitten/puppy mill of 100’s cats/dogs in small crates. It can also mean a family that put their two family pets together and had a litter. Both are irresponsibly bred, even if it means one lives outdoors and the other on the family couch.
Expect MORE from the breeder of the cat breed you’re looking for! Pet homes need to ask about health testing, and be prepared to walk away, when they find out that the kittens are NOT health tested.
The sire and dam being seen by a vet is NOT health testing. Health testing is being tested and cleared for genetic conditions that effect the breed in question. Tests vary per breed and it’s important buyers are educate themselves on proper health testing.
And while it’s tempting to hand over $1K to a person off Craigslist, Petfinders, Oodle, or Facebook for a cute kitten, that same person will most likely not be there for that kitten, after you leave their property.
That kitten could be affected with a life risking genetic disease that could’ve been prevented with a simple DNA test. That kitten could be infected with panleukopenia, calicivirus, gingivitis/stomatitis, ringworm AND MUCH MORE due to lack of vaccinations and/or ‘breeder’ neglect. The kitten could get REALLY sick and possibly die. That same kitten could have a severe OCD due to poor breeding practices and have to be PTS. Basically, that kitten, that you fell in love with, could possibly be a walking health issue time bomb. Or you could be one of the lucky ones. Do you really want to take that gamble???
So, I know you want a kitten.
I know the thought of having to wait 6 months or more for a kitten is depressing.
I know it feels like it will never happen but patience in this case may save you from the HUGE heartbreak of buying a sick, poorly bred kitten.
You deserve better than a poorly bred kitten from a person who will take your money, then doesn’t put it towards bettering their breeding program, and perpetuates this kind of heartbreak again and again. Backyard breeders are the reason that dogs and cats are ending up in shelters, NOT the reputable breeders.
Reputable breeders health test our breeding cats, we socialize our kittens, we temperament test our kittens, and we screen the heck out of our potential kitten homes. We also constantly invest in buying new outcross lines to improve and complement our own. Be wary of a breeder only breeding from their own lines.
We are there for you, whose kittens have gotten sick, or eaten something they shouldn’t have, we laugh with you, and we cry with you. We celebrate every update you provide us with, and are thrilled with the photos you send, because we love our kittens/cats as much as you do. When you are entrusted with one of our kittens, you also get US- the ethical, reputable breeder!
I just want each and every one of you wonderful homes, who are waiting for a kitten, to have a little patience. Get to know your breeders. We may not have anything for you currently but we are happy to talk about the breed or just even in general. Be patient with us, as many of us are receiving upwards of 50-100 inquiries a week!
In the meantime, be careful of the scams out there, be wary of kittens that almost seem too good to be true (because they are!) and please do your homework on proper breeding practices,no matter what breed you’re looking at.
We all need to do better for these amazing breeds we are preserving. It starts with breeding responsibly, buying responsibly, and ending the purchase of BYB cats.
Trust me, it’s worth the wait!
Are you ready to take on the responsibility of becoming a Scottish Fold breeder? Read more about what it involves in the Breeder Questionnaire.