A woman sitting on a chair with a cat on her lap, promoting animal adoption.

How to Find Ethical Cat Breeders this Christmas


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Pet parenting has never been more popular, with Kiwis owning 4.6 million pets. But this high demand for fur kids (and a seasonal increase every festive period) isn’t always a good thing for animals. Kitten mills are a big problem in NZ, as is the huge number of abandoned pets in our animal adoption shelters. If you’ve decided you definitely want and can properly take care of a whiskery Christmas present it’s crucial to find an ethical breeder for cats.

So how do you make sure you’re not adding to the problem when you buy a cat this December? Obtaining your new companion from an ethical and responsible source is vital for their well-being and your peace of mind. 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps to find ethical cat breeders in New Zealand, so you can bring home a healthy and happy kitty.

Why ethical breeders?

You may be wondering what the big deal is about ethical breeders. There are a number of reasons to steer clear of anyone who’s not.

We’ve seen the rise of kitten and puppy mills where pets, specifically purebred or designer breeds, are bred and raised in large quantities for profit. That is, typically with little regard for their well-being.

First, ethical breeders prioritise the well-being of their cats. They provide proper care, nutrition, and socialisation to ensure the kittens grow up healthy and happy. This means your new furry friend is more likely to be a well-adjusted and robust pet.

Second, not only are ethical breeders very careful to test their breeding pair for genetic and other health issues, but they’ll also be transparent with you about your kitten’s health history. They provide you with medical records, so you know about any genetic conditions or vaccinations. This helps you make an informed decision and reduces the risk of costly vet bills down the road.

Third, they breed cats responsibly and don’t contribute to overpopulation. With unethical breeders often prioritising profit over the cats’ welfare they can overbreed their animals, leading to health problems.

Finally, ethical breeders are usually there for you after the purchase. They offer advice, support, and may have a return policy if things don’t work out. This ensures a more positive and supportive experience for you and your new pet.

A woman sitting on a couch with a rescued cat.

How to find an ethical breeder

So how do you make sure the person you’re getting your new fur kid from is a responsible breeder? Here are our top tips:

#1 Ask around

One of the best ways to start your search for an ethical cat breeder is by asking for recommendations from fellow cat lovers.

Friends, family, your vet and other feline enthusiasts can be excellent resources. They may have valuable insights or personal experiences with reputable breeders in your area. Tell people about your quest for a kitten of X breed and let them know you’re looking for a breeder who prioritises the well-being of their cats.

Those who share your passion for felines will likely be eager to help guide you in the right direction.

#2 Get immersed in forums and groups

Join online forums, Facebook groups, Reddit communities and so on that are focused on cats. See if there are some specific to the breed you’re looking to bring home.

Engage in conversations, seek advice, and ask for recommendations. You’ll be surprised how quickly the cat-loving community rallies to support each other.

#3 Check with the New Zealand Cat Fancy

The New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF) is an invaluable resource for cat enthusiasts. This organisation is dedicated to promoting the welfare and well-being of cats in New Zealand. They maintain a list of registered breeders who adhere to their strict ethical standards.

NZCF registered breeders are committed to the health, temperament, and overall well-being of their cats. They follow best practices for breeding and participate in activities that enhance the breed’s quality. 

Choosing a breeder affiliated with NZCF is a solid step towards finding a responsible and ethical source for your new feline companion.

Visit the NZCF website and navigate to their breeder directory. Here, you can search for registered breeders based on location, breed, or cattery name. This tool simplifies the process, allowing you to connect with breeders who meet NZCF’s high standards.

A woman is holding a long haired cat, adopted from an ethical breeder, on her shoulder.

#4 Look for members of specialised breed clubs

Specialised breed clubs are passionate communities of breeders and enthusiasts dedicated to specific cat breeds. These clubs often have stringent ethical codes and guidelines that their members must adhere to.

Breed clubs serve as hubs of knowledge, experience, and support for both breeders and cat owners. Members share a deep love for their chosen breed and are committed to its preservation and well-being.

A quick online search or a visit to the NZCF website can provide a list of specialised NZ breed clubs. Once you’ve identified the club associated with the breed you’re interested in, explore their website or contact them directly for breeder recommendations.

Once you’ve found an ethical breeder

So you’ve found a reputable breeder, but your quest doesn’t end there! Here are the next steps in ensuring they live up to their reputation:

#1 Visit the cattery in person

Seeing where your future feline friend comes from is a crucial step in ensuring they’re healthy, mentally and physically. A reputable breeder will be more than willing to welcome you into their cattery and answer any questions you may have.

Here’s what to look for during your visit:

🐱 A clean and well-maintained environment: The cattery should be clean, odour-free, and well-organised. Cats should have ample space to move around.

😸 Healthy and happy cats: Observe the cats. They should be alert, active, and social. Pay attention to their living conditions and interactions with the breeder.

😻 Proper socialisation: Kittens should have exposure to various stimuli and socialised with people to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted companions.

this Maine Coone cat behind cat netting was bred by a responsible ethical cat breeder

#2 Ask the right questions to find an ethical breeder

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. An ethical breeder will happily provide you with detailed information about their breeding practices and their cats’ well-being.

Essential questions to ask include:

  • Are the cats socialised and raised in a home environment? Cats raised in a household setting tend to be better adjusted and more social.
  • Can I meet the kitten’s parents? Meeting the mother and, if possible, the father of the kitten can give insight into their temperament and health.
  • Can you provide references from previous buyers? Reputable breeders should have satisfied customers willing to vouch for their practices.
  • What veterinary care have the cats and kittens received? Ethical breeders should have a relationship with a vet and provide proof of vaccinations and regular health checks.
  • Do you screen for hereditary and congenital health conditions? A responsible breeder will perform genetic testing to reduce the risk of hereditary health problems in their cats.
  • What’s your breeding philosophy and goals? Ethical breeders should have a clear and responsible breeding program designed to improve the breed and prioritise the health and well-being of the cats.
  • Can I see the cat’s medical records and pedigree? Access to these documents can provide information about the cat’s health history and lineage.
  • What’s your policy on spaying/neutering and responsible breeding practices? Ethical breeders typically require the desexing of non-breeding pets and have strict contracts for those who do participate in breeding.
  • What’s your rehoming policy? Ask about what happens to the cats if they are returned or if the new owner can no longer care for them.
  • Are you a member of any cat breeding associations or clubs? Being a member of reputable breed organisations can be a sign of a commitment to ethical breeding standards.
  • What’s your approach to socialisation and early kitten development? Ethical breeders will prioritise proper socialisation and early exposure to various stimuli.
  • How do you handle emergencies or unexpected health issues with your cats or kittens?
  • Do you have a waiting list or adoption process, and what’s it like? Ethical breeders often have an application process to ensure their cats go to suitable homes where they will flourish under proper care.
  • What’s your policy regarding the age at which kittens can leave their mother and littermates? Kittens should ideally stay with their mother and littermates for a minimum of 12 weeks to ensure proper nutrition, socialisation and development.

#3 Watch out for red flags when exploring an ethical breeder

While most breeders have the best interests of their cats at heart, there are some warning signs that indicate unethical practices. Red flags include:


If a breeder always has a high volume of litters available, it may be a sign they prioritise quantity over quality.

Inadequate living conditions

If the cattery is dirty, overcrowded, or the cats appear unhealthy, it’s a cause for concern.

Lack of transparency

A responsible, ethical breeder for cats should be open and honest about their practices, including health records and breeding history.

Overly young kittens

As mentioned above, kittens should ideally stay with their mother and littermates for a minimum of 12 weeks. Breeding practices that separate kittens from their mother too early can be a concern.

Breeding of cats with known health issues

If the breeder continues to breed cats with known genetic or hereditary health problems without performing proper testing, it’s a serious red flag.

An unethical breeder has a cat standing in a cage in a zoo, available for animal adoption.

Why you should consider animal adoption instead

While working with an ethical breeder for cats is really important for those who unequivocally want a purebred, it could be said that the most responsible way of becoming a cat parent is animal adoption. Why? Because we have millions of cats in shelters desperately seeking homes. Just read accounts of abandoned pets from NZ shelters we spoke to about the boom in surrendered pets.

Here are 7 reasons to opt for animal adoptions instead of a breeder (even if they’re ethical!):

  1. You save a life. When you adopt, you’re giving a home to a cat in need. Many cats in shelters are looking for a second chance, and adopting them can literally save a life.
  2. Animal adoption is cost-effective. Adopting is usually more affordable than buying from a breeder. Adoption fees often include spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and sometimes even microchipping.
  3. Variety of cats during animal adoption: Shelters have a diverse selection of cats, from kittens to seniors, of different breeds and personalities. You may have a better chance of finding the perfect feline companion for your lifestyle.
  4. Pre-adoption health care during animal adoption. Shelter cats are usually examined for health issues and many come with their initial vaccinations, having received routine medical care.
  5. Encouraging responsible pet parenting. When you adopt, you support the ethical treatment of animals and send a message that you don’t support pet mills or irresponsible breeding practices.
  6. Experienced guidance. Shelter staff can often provide insights into a cat’s behaviour, temperament, and specific needs, helping you find the right match.
  7. Animal adoption gives a sense of fulfilment. The satisfaction of giving a home to a cat in need is incredibly rewarding. You’ll feel good knowing you’ve made a positive impact on a cat’s life.

Cover their cabooses

A big part of responsible pet parenting is having pet insurance to cover them in an accident or emergency. It reduces the out-of-pocket expense for all kinds of unanticipated vet visits, prescription medication, treatment for accident and illness and more.

If you buy your pet pawlicy online with PD Insurance, you can also get one or more months for free! Why not take two minutes to get a quote? Click below to start today.

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