If you are thinking of buying a Maine Coon from a breeder, it is important to choose one wisely. Check out their credentials to ensure they are ethical and responsible, as well as registered with an established cat breeder association such as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA).
We’ve created this article with essential steps to follow to make it as easy as possible for you to decide how to choose a Maine Coon breeder.
It’s quite easy to find information about Maine Coon breeders online. These days, many create websites full of information and photographs.
You can follow breeder’s Facebook pages and browse through answers to other people’s questions, and the responses supplied.
You can also ask questions of your own. This allows you to get a real feel for different breeders’ attitudes and will allow you to filter out those you do and don’t want to visit in person.
How do you choose the best Maine Coon breeder?
Here’s a brief guide as to how you give yourself the best possible chance of finding the best breeder for a Maine Coon. We expand upon these points further on.
1. Ensure the breeder is registered with an established breeder’s association
All good breeders will be registered with a breeder’s association such as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA).
2. Ask to see proof that the Maine Coons they are breeding are healthy
All reputable breeders have their breeding cats screened and know they are free of common Maine Coon congenital health conditions.
3. View their premises
Check out the living conditions of their breeding cats and kittens. Ensure it is clean.
4. Ensure they are interacting with their Maine Coon kittens to socialize them properly
This is essential for kittens to grow into sociable and confident adult cats
5. Ask plenty of questions!
Prepare a list of questions. A decent breeder will bend over backward to answer them. They will understand exactly why you are asking.
It’s quite easy to find Maine Coon breeders online. These days, most have websites packed with information and photographs. You can check if any have Facebook pages to follow, where you can browse through other peoples questions and the responses they receive, This will give you an idea of questions you can ask any breeders you visit. Get a real feel for a breeder’s attitude before you visit.
Visiting the Breeder
The best way to check out a breeder is to arrange a visit. A good breeder has nothing to hide, will show you around and will answer as many questions as you can ask.
Ask to see the following and make copies with your phone camera or take notes of the details:
- Their Cattery registration certificate – This will clearly show the cattery name, a registration number,
andthe owner’s name. It will have been issued by a known association such as CFA, TICA or ACFA. Make sure you check it is still current once you get home.
- Proof of their code of ethics – This will clearly set out a voluntary code of ethics that the breeder agreed to abide by when they were accepted as a member of the association they are registered with. It states conditions of the sale, guarantees the good health of kittens at the point of sale, states they will have had their first vaccinations, make recommendations to purchasers and includes various other conditions.
- The health records of the parents – Make sure that the parents of the kittens you are interested in are up to date with their vaccinations and have tested negative for FIV and FELV. The breeder should have documentation showing that their cats have a clean bill of health.
- Genetic screening results – All good breeders will be able to show that their breeding cats have tested negative for genetically transmitted diseases including Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
If you are not satisfied with any of the paperwork you have been shown or if any of it is not available, you would be well advised to proceed any further with caution.
Questions to ask
- Are both parents affectionate and do they like to be held? Kittens can inherit certain personality traits from their parents so it’s advisable to inquire about their parents’ temperaments. Ask to meet the parents and see how they interact with you.
- How many kittens are born at their cattery each year? A breeder has a lot of work cut out caring for kittens properly, alongside their mother. It is difficult for one who has dozens of kittens to monitor them properly, assist with weaning and generally keep them safe. An over-busy breeder may not be able to provide the best start to a kitten’s life.
- How often are the female cats
mated? A female cat should be allowed 8 months to recover after having a litter before being mated again. If a breeder is not allowing this length of time between litters then the mother’s health could be compromised and so could the health of her kittens.
Ask for a tour of the cats’ living quarters
Some breeders keep their cats in their home and some have a dedicated cattery. Whichever type you view, expect to see cats in a clean, well-maintained, warm and comfortable environment.
They should have plenty of space to roam and play and have plenty of toys to play with. They should be happy and sociable and look clean and tidy and be clearly loved and well-cared for. The more homely the cattery, the better.
Maine Coon Kitten Socialization
Ask the breeder lots of questions about how they socialize their kittens. They should tell you that the age when kittens are most receptive is between 2 and 7 weeks.
During this window, they should be exposed to as many positive experiences with humans as possible to ensure they grow into confident and sociable adult cats.
A breeder should be able to tell you exactly how they carry out this important socialization process, which should include touching and talking.
Ask the breeder about kitten vaccinations and how they are administered.
Newborn Kittens have no immune system. Within 2 days they gain passive immunity from their mother’s milk which helps to protect them until their immune systems develop.
Vaccinations are essential to protect kittens against common cat diseases. The first set should be administered at around 6 to 7 weeks of age and the second set at around 10 to 11 weeks.
Some breeders choose to administer these vaccinations themselves whilst others use the services of a licensed vet.
Ask a breeder to confirm which method they use as it is always preferable, and probably safer, for vaccinations to be given by a professional.
Kitten Health Guarantee
A good breeder will be happy to guarantee the health of their kittens for 12 months. They should provide in writing the full terms of the guarantee so you know exactly what is covered.
Contract of Sale
Absolutely everything agreed between a breeder and a prospective purchaser should be put in writing. Even before you agree to purchase a kitten, a breeder should be happy to provide you with a draft contract so you can ensure you are happy with all the would-be terms and conditions of a sale.
More about Facebook
If your chosen breeder has a Facebook page scour it for reviews from other customers of theirs.
A good breeder will respond to good and bad comments and endeavor to resolve any issues without trying to hide anything.
Hopefully, you won’t find any issues with your chosen breeder, but if you do and they work hard to resolve them then this is a good sign.
You’ve found a Maine Coon breeder you like. What is the next step?
Meeting the breeder’s expectations
It’s now your turn to pass the breeders suitable owner test. Another sign of a good breeder is their vetting process of would-be purchasers. All good breeders care deeply about who they let their kittens go to so expect to be grilled about your cat-caring capabilities.
Join the queue
Good breeders have a long waiting list and once your name reaches the top, you will be sent details of when a litter is due. You can then usually reserve a kitten by signing a contract and paying a deposit.
A Maine Coons gestation period is 9 to 10 weeks. You may be able to choose your kitten a few weeks after birth but a reputable breeder won’t allow you to take it home until it is at least 12 weeks old. You will have to be prepared to be patient.
Conclusion – how do choose a Maine Coon breeder
Acquiring a healthy Maine Coon kitten via a good breeder will probably entail a fairly lengthy process of research, vetting breeders and being vetted yourself. But it’s worth taking the time to ensure you find yourself a beautiful and healthy kitten.
And remember the more would be Maine coon owners insist on high standards from breeders, the more hope we have of eradicating genetically transmitted diseases from the breed and the quicker the unethical breeders will be stamped out.
If you would like to find out more about this lovely breed, consider reading our Complete Maine Coon guide which can be found here.