So you want to own a pedigree cat. You have decided to buy one, and are looking for breeders, or looking on websites such as Pets4Homes, where a bewildering variety of pedigree cats are advertised. You might think that after that it is straightforward – you simply find the breed you want, contact the breeder or advertiser, and buy the kitten or cat which they are offering. But it may not be all that simple. The cat may not be what you think it is. Some cats are advertised as pedigree and belonging to a particular breed, when in fact they are non-pedigrees or moggies, or when they are cross-breeds, i.e a cross between two known breeds. So what can you do about this? How can you recognise a pedigree cat?
Sometimes this happens simply due to ignorance on the part of the advertiser. Some people think that all long haired cats are Persians, all laid-back floppy cats are Ragdolls, or all large, fluffy, tabby cats are Maine Coons, for example. They might see a cat with Siamese-type markings, and simply assume it is a Siamese. But this is not the case, as will be explained later; there is a lot more to it than this.
Other people, sadly, are deliberately trying to mislead. There are unscrupulous people in the cat world as much as there are anywhere else, and you cannot just assume that a cat is of a particular breed because the seller says so. It is by no means unknown for ordinary moggies to be advertised as kittens of a particular breed. Sometimes this is carried to ridiculous extremes, with short haired tabby kittens being advertised as Maine Coons, for example. In fact, I have even seen an ad for black and white Bengals, when Bengals only come with tabby or spotty coats! So buying a pedigree cat is really a case of 'Buyer Beware' and of having some idea of what you are looking for. At Pets4homes we do our best when approving adverts to make sure that any cats advertised are being advertised correctly, but it is not always possible to get this correct every time.
Of course, if you like the kitten or cat you buy it doesn't matter all that much in one sense. But on the other hand, pedigree cats are expensive, and you really shouldn't have to pay several hundred pounds for a kitten which is a non-pedigree, however beautiful it is, however much it resembles a particular breed, and however much you like it. People are taken in like this fairly frequently, and you don't want to be one of them. So what can you do to prevent this happening?
When you have decided what breed you want, you should do some research, and find out as much as you can about it. There is a wealth of information in books and on the internet about every breed; indeed it is available on our website via the Cat Breeds page. So look at pictures, find out exactly what that breed looks like, and what colours it comes in – and black and white is simply not a Bengal colour, as explained above. You can even find the 'Standard of Points' for each breed if you wish, which will tell you precisely how the breed should look if you intend to show your cat. This will be on the GCCF website for most breeds.
Better still, look at some examples of the breed you want. If you can, visit a cat show; there is one somewhere in the country most weekends. Again, a list of these is on the GCCF website. When you are there, look at cats and kittens of the breed, and if possible talk to owners and breeders about what that breed looks like, and what it is like to own. You might even find someone there who is willing to sell you a kitten of the breed you want, or who can recommend a reputable breeder.
As explained above, a pedigree cat is not just one that looks a particular way. It should have a printed or handwritten 'Pedigree', which is basically the cat's family tree, showing who its parents, grandparents, and earlier ancestors were, back to four or five generations. When you buy a pedigree cat, you should definitely get a copy of this pedigree, at the very least. If one is not offered, ask why. It could be that the cat's paperwork has been lost for some reason, and you might be willing to accept this. If the cat is a rescue cat, for instance, it may well have no paperwork with it. But if that is the case, you have no real proof that the cat belongs to the breed that the seller claims it does, and you might well not want to pay a lot of money for it.
Also, be very wary of paying a lot for kittens advertised as, for example, Persian/Siamese crosses. These may well be lovely kittens, but they are not members of a particular breed; they are cross breeds and therefore basically moggies. So you really should not have to pay pedigree type prices for them.
If you don't want to show the cat, some of the above may not be that important to you. You may want a full pedigree cat, but feel that getting the correct paperwork is not essential. But if you want to show the cat, you definitely need to check that the cat is registered with one of the official governing bodies. And this means that you should ensure you get a registration certificate in addition to the cat's pedigree.
If an advertiser is selling pedigree kittens which are not registered with a governing body such as the GCCF or TICA, then even if they are providing a written pedigree document, there is no guarantee that the cat or kitten is full pedigree, and it could actually be a slight mixture of breeds. To make sure you are buying a full pedigree cat that you could potentially show, you need to make sure that the cat or kitten is registered with either GCCF, TICA or FiFE, and that you receive the full paperwork to prove this from the seller or breeder. Only when a cat is registered with a governing body, can you fully trace the cats parentage and know that you are buying a bona fide pedigree cat.
Of course, it is entirely up to you what cat or kitten you buy, and if you like it, it could well be the cat for you. There are many beautiful moggies around, and a large number of these are in need of good homes, and they cost far less than pedigree cats. But if you particularly want a pedigree cat, then you have to be knowledgeable and go into this with your eyes open. If you want to show your new cat, this is most particularly important. But even if you just want a lovely new member of the family, you should make sure you are buying what you think you are and paying the appropriate price for it. And after all, you wouldn't buy a washing machine or car without knowing a little bit about it, so treat your pedigree cat purchase in the same way. And good luck!