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{ My Life As Meowmy } : Overpopulation and Breeding

There's been a bit of controversy over on our Instagram page lately, brought up by well-meaning folks just trying to stand up for their values, who unfortunately feel that doing so gives them free license to attack other people who they've mentally lumped into a category as "bad" because they have chosen a course other than the one they believe is right. While I 100% support the right of all humans to have and express an opinion, I did want to address the things that are being said there regarding breeding and some persons' assumptions that this is the root of the feline overpopulation problem in the US.

First let me clarify a few things about myself and my family which these folks wouldn't know or think to ask before jumping to their high-minded conclusions:

My family and I are cattle ranchers. That means, unless your a vegan or vegetarian, you can thank people like us for the delicious Black Angus beef you enjoy for your Sunday dinner. If you're anti-breeding AND a vegetarian, this probably means you hate us even more. Frankly, I don't care. We hunt too. It feeds our family. And we have a right to do it, and that doesn't mean you have to like it. We raise AQHA working cow-horses, too, so other ranchers like us can buy stock from quality blood lines who have been bred over many generations to have good cow-sense and the ability to live and work in rough terrain. Because we also breed for brains, these horses are adaptable and have learned to compete in a wide variety of events not related to ranching, including hunter-jumper and dressage. My in-laws raise Miniature Australian Shepherds, and have done so for over 15 years. They own some of the top 10 mini Aussies in the country, and their dogs live and work all over the country. Their bloodlines are known for their health, excellent conformation, and most importantly, the fact that each puppy is individually matched through a rigorous personality profiling system to their ideal family, so that they have the absolute best chances of being such a great match to that family, that they will stay with them for the rest of their life. If for some reason the family has a change in circumstances and can't keep the dog, my mother in law will -always- get involved in finding the dog a new home. I do the same with my Ragdolls. This is what it means to stand behind your lines. You care about the well-being of what you've produced, even many years after that puppy or kitten has grown up. These are the kind of values we believe in. And these are the kind of "breeders" we are committed to being.

I myself have rescued, adopted, and helped to find homes for several dozen cats and kittens over the years. I've volunteered at shelters and veterinary clinics since I was 8 years old. I've worked with shelters to find homes for cats who have been deemed otherwise un-adoptable. At our cat shows, we team up with local shelters so they can bring adoptable cats into the show hall for spectators to meet and adopt. A lot of the revenue from our shows gets donated to no-kill shelters as well. We have even organized canned-food drives at our shows to donate the goods to local homeless shelters. Through our many educational programs, we strive to help the public to understand the responsibility that we have to care for animals, purebred or mixed-breed. Adoption is highly recommended by both large cat organizations in the US (CFA and TICA) because, guess what, the people who are a part of these organizations love cats. We are not all breeders, either. Many, many TICA members and volunteers are pet owners or shelter operators actively showing adopted and rescued mixed-breed cats from shelters or off the street, in our Household Pet class. We go out of our way to encourage kids to get involved in this hobby, find a great shelter pet to adopt, and bring them out to the show. When we can get these kids involved at a young age and get them excited and educated, these are the kids who grow up to have great ideas like cat cafes - where people can come in for a cup of coffee and hang out with adoptable shelter cats, hopefully fall in love and take one home. These are the kind of values that we as responsible breeders support.

As far as the comment that these "purebreds" would not "die out overnight" if breeders stopped breeding...I'm sorry but that is a completely ignorant and laughable comment. There is no such thing as a purebred cat. These "breeds" do not exist in "the wild" - with the exception of maybe Maine Coons. There are pedigreed cats. And there are "cats". These "breeds" ONLY exist because humans saw a set of physical traits that they found desirable in a feral cat population, and decided to cultivate and refine it and come up with a set of standards to govern how they wanted these traits preserved, and developed a pedigree registry so that the lineage of these cats could be recorded. Cats were not domesticated for a purpose, like cattle, horses, and dogs. Truthfully, feral colonies and barn cats serve more of a "functional purpose" than most pedigreed cats. At least they still know how to hunt. Pedigreed cats rarely can, so their new purpose in life is to be the ideal companion to humans. This is why we breed for personality as well as physical characteristics. If we stop breeding for these things, the breeds cease to exist. The traits that breeders have worked for decades or centuries to preserve, would filter back into the general cat population in a matter of only a few generations, making the "breed" completely obsolete. With that would go all the dedication that has gone into making sure these pedigreed cats were HEALTHY and free of diseases commonly carried by the general cat population. Just ask a shelter owner if they think cats coming in off the street are as a rule healthier than cats coming out of a responsibly-managed cattery. They will tell you no, every time. The rate of disease and illness they see on a daily basis, from cats let loose on the streets to free-populate, is absolutely astounding and heartbreaking. Frankly, instead of attacking breeders, who are diligently working to preserve strong health and amiable personalities, why don't we all start attacking the real problem, cats who don't belong to anyone, who are left to their own devices to reproduce, who develop mange and lose their eyes to herpes infections and entire colonies filled with distemper and feline leukemia. This is our real problem, and that is why we as breeders donate to trap-and-release programs to help FIX the problem instead of complaining about it. These cats are trapped, neutered and spayed, vaccinated, treated for existing infection, and if they are adoptable, they get placed. If they are too feral to be adopted, they get released and at least have a chance of living out a healthier, longer life due to the intervention, while fulfilling the main "functional purpose" of a cat - to catch mice.

When it comes to people who adopt a kitten then give it up to a shelter when it grows out of the "cute and fuzzy" stage - frankly, isn't that a problem with humans, not cats? There are some people who just should not have pets. But I can tell you this, people are a heck of a lot less likely to abandon a cat they may have had to wait a year or more to get, and paid good money for, and have a contract with a written health guarantee on, than one they picked up on impulse from a box full of kittens in front of a Walmart. When buying from a responsible breeder, they also know they have a support system if that cat ever develops a behavioral problem they're not sue how to deal with, or they have a change in circumstances and need to rehome the cat. The breeder is going to be there to help them through. These are some of the benefits of buying a cat from a responsible breeder, and guess what? It's those peoples right to choose if they would prefer that over a cat with unknown background with unknown genetics who may or may not end up fitting into their family and may or may not end up being the kitty they dreamed of.

So to those who feel like breeders are the source of the overpopulation problem - you're entitled to your opinion. As you can see by the examples here, many, many breeders are actually diligently working alongside these rescue organizations and spay/neuter programs. Please at least try to get all the facts before you start attacking people who in reality may be doing a lot more to help the problem than your average person. Just try to remember that as much as you have the right to take a stand for what you think is right, so does the other person. And when you take the time to listen, you may find that your values are a lot more similar than you originally assumed.


#breeding #overpopulation #cats #adoption #rescue

© 2016 by Kyla Herbst ~ RawhideRagdolls

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