Purchasing a Siberian kitten

Bringing a kitten into your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it is important to do your research thoroughly. By being both mindful and responsible when buying your new cat, you can help to make sure you bring a healthy and well-balanced pet into your home and prevent the support of unethical breeding practices.

Buying a Siberian kitten wisely

If your heart is set on a Siberian kitten, you will probably have to deal with at least one breeder. Picking out a breeder — and thus a cat — can feel confusing and uncertain. Keep in mind the most important quality of any breeder: whether the breeder shows or doesn’t show, has registered kittens or not, their cats should have really good lives, and their kittens should be deliberately prepared to have a really good life with you.

Here are the questions you should answer about any breeder:

1. How are your kittens raised and socialized?
  • Kittens born into homes with lots of people around, and where they experience the usual day-to-day household happenings, and where they are introduced to many people and many new smells, sounds, textures, and other experiences will adapt to your household much more easily than those kittens raised outside of the house or isolated from people.
  • Virtually every breeder will say that their kittens are socialized, because it’s the buzzword of the moment. But if you ask for specifics, you’ll find that their kittens are actually quite isolated in the name of protecting them.
  • Ask breeders exactly what measures they take to ensure their kittens are well-socialized, as well as their attention to hygiene, healthcare, well-being, and good nutrition.
2. How are your kittens cared for before they might come to my house?
  • Ask the age of the kittens. They should stay with their mothers until they are at least 12 weeks old, and for many people sixteen weeks is better.
  • If you visit before taking your Siberian kitten home, look closely at both the kittens and the adult cats for any visible health problems. Eyes should be bright and clear, with no discharge. Kittens should be bright eyed and should feel substantial and strong, not thin or scrawny.
  • Ask if the kittens have been health checked by a vet. Care before the kitten comes home should include vaccines and worming as well as screening for any hereditary diseases.
  • Ask if the kittens have been microchipped.
  • Choose your veterinary practice and schedule a check-up quickly once the kitten has joined your household
3. Do you participate in cat shows? Why?

Reputable breeders often show (in the USA, typically within CFA or TICA), but you should get the distinct impression that the show is a means to an end (to get peer review to make sure their cats are of high quality, to work to improve their chosen breed, to participate in the breeding community) rather than to brag about wins.

4. What congenital defects does this breed have?

THE ANSWER IS NEVER “NONE.” Siberian cats are one of the healthiest breeds out there, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be concerned about. Every cat should be tested for kidney and heart mutations at a minimum, and we’d argue that the more you can look at, the better.

Red flags to be aware of
  1. Indicates that the breed is unrealistically ideal – for example, has no health problems, is perfectly hypoallergenic, will live longer than is possible, has a temperament that is flawless, will never scratch no matter what, etc.)
  2. Doesn’t seem to know a lot about the kitten you’re inquiring about – you get the impression that they have a ton of kittens and that gender and color are the major identifiers of each kitten. If asked about personality, you get a vague “Well, of course she’s sweet and adorable” instead of specifics.
  3. Goes out of their way to say negative things about all other breeders – it’s fine for a breeder to be proud of what they do differently and arguably better than their peers, but they shouldn’t tell you that there are no other trustworthy breeders or that you should buy only from them.
  4. The breeder doesn’t ask or isn’t concerned about what kind of home you’ll provide for the kitten.
A special note on spay/neuter

The vast majority of good Siberian cat breeders have all their pet kittens spayed or neutered before they leave them – or require you to do so within a few weeks of coming home with you. This is not because we’re trying to “prevent competition” or keep you from having the fun of a litter. It’s because – first – Siberian cats are sort of the breed of the moment and there are lots of unscrupulous breeders trying to get their hands on them. If you want to be a good breeder, we’ll be happy to help you, but we don’t want you or anyone else to be a bad breeder. Second, and more practically, living with intact cats is a huge pain in the neck. The girls start going into season at around six months old, and boys often forget their good bathroom habits at about the same age. Sometimes – rarely – unneutered males can resist the temptation to mark and spray and can be good house pets, but most owners are not that lucky.

So for your own comfort, convenience, and for the sake of your kitten, we’d encourage you to buy only from a breeder who requires spays or neuters.