Kittens described as being 'pedigree' are breeds recognised by the UK's main registration body, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, which is the cat equivalent of the Kennel Club, or by the smaller TICA (The International Cat Association). Pedigree kittens should have a certified 5-generation pedigree and be registered with the GCCF or TICA at the time you purchase them. The two registration bodies sometimes recognise different breeds, and if you want to show your kitten, she must be registered with the appropriate body.
Have a look at online 'classified ads' such as those on Pets4Homes, as well as at specialist magazines and cat clubs, or visit a cat show to make contact with breeders, although you will not be allowed to take a kitten home from a show in case of infection. You may find that some breeders have a waiting list for their kittens, or that you will have a long journey to visit them, but don't be put off by this - it's worth waiting to have your kitten of choice. It's worth checking the GCCF website for suspended breeders first, as their kittens will not be permitted to be registered.
Before you arrange to view any kittens, have a chat with the breeder about the future of your proposed new cat. Let them know if you would like to be able to breed from them in due course, or if you are hoping to show them, or whether they are simply going to be a much-loved household pet. There is a huge variety of 'type' (conformity to the breed standard) between different kittens of the same breed, and often in the same litter. Reputable breeders will not sell you a kitten for showing that clearly has no show potential although no breeder can guarantee that their kittens are 100% show winners. However, these kittens will nevertheless make wonderful pets, and if you are not interested in showing, you probably won't notice anyway! If you would like a female kitten for breeding, your breeder will discuss this with you, and if they agree, will register the kitten on the 'Active' list, meaning that future progeny can be registered. If a breeder does not want you to breed from a kitten, it will be placed on the 'Non-Active' register, and you would not be able to register any progeny if you went against the breeder's wishes. If you are having a kitten as a future 'show neuter' this will also be registered on the non-active list. Reputable breeders very rarely sell male kittens as future studs, as studwork is a very specialist area suitable only for very experienced breeders, so male kittens are virtually always sold on the Non-Active list.
Plan to visit your potential kitten a couple of times if possible, but do go at least once before you bring them home. Contact the breeder to arrange a mutually convenient time, and if for any reason you find yourself unable to go on the appointed date, you should let them know as soon as possible. If you intend visiting more than one breeder, it's best to go on different days to avoid the risk of any cross-infection.
The happiest, healthiest and most confident kittens are brought up in the breeder's house, rather than reared in an outside cattery, however warm and clean the outside accommodation may seem. Kittens need to learn how to adjust socially with humans and other cats, and those reared in isolation are often quite nervous. You should see the kittens with their mother and litter mates, and they should all be bright and alert with no sign of sticky eyes, ear infections, fleas or diarrhoea. The breeder should allow you to handle the kittens, but do not choose a kitten that appears terrified or unhappy, or because you feel sorry for it. Ask to see the pedigrees of both parents, although you will not be able to have a copy of your kitten's pedigree until you come to collect her. Expect the breeder to ask you lots of questions - reputable breeders really care about the homes their kittens are going to - and you may be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit, which will be deducted from the final price of your kitten, ensuring that you are given a receipt for this payment.
If a breeder has decided to mate two totally different pedigree breeds of cat, the resulting kittens might not classed as pedigree and may simply be 'crossbreeds' - if you see kittens advertised without a breed name, or with a breed you've never heard of, it would be worth checking this out. The kittens will probably be adorable and very healthy - they just won't be pedigree, and the price should reflect this. Kittens with one pedigree parent (and the other possibly unknown) also do not qualify to be described as pedigree, even if they look like one - it's essential to see the pedigrees of both parents when you visit the kittens.
Your new kitten should not be ready for collection until she is 13-14 weeks old, fully vaccinated, weaned and litter trained, as recommended by the GCCF. When the day finally arrives for you to collect her, you should also receive a pack of paperwork. In it should be the kitten's signed pedigree and registration document - check that the details of the parents are the same on both papers. You should also get the kitten's vaccination certificate so make sure that they have received two sets of jabs against FIE and cat flu as the very minimum. If the breeder has had your kitten micro-chipped, this too will have documentation. Ask your breeder in advance to arrange for initial insurance - several pet insurance companies will provide free insurance to cover the first four weeks when your new pet is at her most vulnerable. Your breeder should also give you a diet sheet listing the food that the kitten is used to, and you need to find out what sort of cat litter is familiar to her. Some breeders may ask you to sign an agreement of sale regarding such matters as breeding, showing and neutering, and this is perfectly normal.
Your breeder will ask you to let them know how the kitten is settling in after the first day or so, so please don't forget to let them know in your excitement! Breeders always love having progress reports about the kittens they have bred, so keep in touch by email, letter or phone, and they will enjoy seeing photos as your kitten grows older. If your circumstances change for any reason and you find yourself unable to keep your cat later on, let the breeder know immediately - reputable breeders will always assist in finding a new home for cats they have bred.