The reason why people abandon purebred cats

The reason why cat owners abandon purebred, pedigree cats is essentially the same reason why people abandon random bred cats. They are not committed to keeping their cat. There are added reasons why an owner of a purebred cat might abandon their cat. Such an owner may be more interested in the way their cat looks. These people are more likely to be involved with appearance generally, which means they may well have a house that looks wonderful.

They may treat a cat as an adornment and not as a companion animal. Cats can create some mess, which is why Sarah Hartwell’s website is called

Mess for a person who is interested in the appearance of their home is unwelcome. Their furniture might get scratched. They may declaw their cat. Then the relationship between cat and owner may start to hit the rocks if the declawing operation causes a detrimental change in the cat’s character. Abandonment may follow.

In short, if a person who buys a cat from a breeder is too heavily focused on appearance and not the practicalities of cat caretaking then the chances of abandonment are higher.

Abandoned purebed cats

True cat lovers like all cats equally. They usually, nearly always in fact, look after non-pedigree cats for the simple reason that there is always a moggie cat there to be adopted. As Sarah Hartwell said to me:

Cats just happen

Cats turn up and a person who really cares and who will make an excellent cat caretaker will take in a cat that just turns up. The person who likes pedigree cats will not respond in the same way.

There could, in fact, be more pedigree cats in shelters than there are already. The reason why there are not is because they are expensive and relatively rare compared to pedigree dogs. However, it appears that there are quite a good number of relinquished pedigree cats in shelters.

I’ll make a guess and state that a big reason why some pedigree cats are in shelters is because they were declawed and as a result their behavior deteriorated. They became defensive due to feeling insecure and bite defensively more than usual.

Another reason for dumping a cat which is exclusively to do with pedigree cats is extreme breeding. Flat-faced Persians need a lot of grooming to keep the coat from knotting and they have inherent health issues – breathing and tear duct overflow staining the face. They are also said to have a more nervous disposition that other cats. This leads to a higher rate of inappropriate elimination. Another negative to owning a Persian is that over a third of all cats of this breed develop polycystic kidney disease (PKD). All these factors are unique to the modern Persian and all of them increase the risk of relinquishment.

You’ll find that pedigree cats are, on average, slightly less healthy than random bred cats. That means more worry and higher vet bills; another reason for dumping a cat.

The reason why an individual person abandons his/her purebred cat is because she is the wrong people to keep a cat and some of these breeds present additional caretaking responsibilities and demands over random bred cats (moggies).

It is important that people who want to buy a pedigree cat do their research first; work out costs and get a feel for the realities. Ask yourself some tough questions. Then, before buying, the person should commit to keeping their cat for life. The stage before adopting a cat is the most important and far more important than some people think.

Are the proportion of pure-bred cats in shelters the same as the proportion of pure-bred cats overall? I don’t think we have a firm idea as to the proportion of pure-bred cats but my guess is the proportion in shelters reflects the proportion in homes. If I am correct being purebred makes little difference to whether a cat is dumped or not.

Original photo on Flickr

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The reason why people abandon purebred cats — 8 Comments

  1. MY god – with 14 day old kittens – that is crazy and incredibly cruel – beyond words cruel – just a day old, can you imagine. I would personally finish the person who did that and make them wish they never got a cat to begin with. 14!

    I am going to make a hopeful assumption based on tat image which is that since they know what happened it probably means that Flower and her kittens were rescued. Otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing the picture to begin with since nobody would have known.

    That is such a cruel thing to do. I feel like flying over to the US – I’ve got a US passport after all – and going around being some kind of vigilante on behalf of cats. I would likely get myself arrested within a very short time.

      • Love your comments. Challenging 🙂 The caption is taken verbatim from the original Flickr photo caption. The link to the original picture is at the base of the articke. I found it strange. i believe that it should mean a litter of kittens that were all 14 days old when found. That is my interpretation.

    • LOL. You’d be a nightmare over there. Being almost 65 myself (!)….I have become sort of…what is the word….annured to stuff like this. Abandoning cats including pure-bred cats is pretty much routine. Although we should be cautious not to get a distorted impression. I am sure most pure-bred cat owners are good and caring.

      She was rescued by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue. My impression of them is that they are good, very good.

  2. I have seen quite a few examples of pedigree cat owners and breeders who really do not give a hoot about their cats per se. This explains the prevalence of inbreeding in the quest to maintain a “look” or aspire to the standard. This is the thinking behind the pedigrees which certainly ensure inbreeding and proliferation of genetic problems. That doesn’t matter. What is important to them is the glamour and self-satisfaction of their cats winning all kinds of rosettes, cups, championship status , etc. They think that this reflects on their special abilities as a breeder or owner when in fact they are just using their cats as pawns for self-glorification. This has gone wildly wrong in several breeds including the Turkish Angora and the Persian. All their hard work has produced cats that are far less attractive than the originals. If their cats are not up to scratch vis a vie the standard and don’t do well at shows, they are eventually disposed of or just disappear off the map. I assume this occurs quite often because there are societies that specialise in pedigree cat rescue.

    • Your right. It is not just the buyers, some breeders seemed to have lost (or never had) a moral approach to breeding. I remember a lady at a cat show saying that newborn kittens are not really kittens so they can be killed immediately if they were not up to scratch.

  3. The people who abandon cats whether pure bred or moggie were never fit to be cat caretakers in the first place, more so those who have their cats declawed!
    When doing the data study we also kept a count of the pedigree declawed cats in the Shelters and there were quite a few. Imagine paying a lot of money for a pedigree cat then paying more to have him mutilated.
    Not that mutilating a pedigree cat is worse than mutilating a moggie, but it doesn’t make sense. If you love cats you love all parts of them, including their claws.

  4. I would agree that for many cats — well, particularly adult cats — it’s similar reasons for abandonment no matter what their ancestry.
    I do think for some breeds, people did not do their research in advance , or did not take seriously what they were told about the needs of the breed. A big issue for Persians , the breed most often found in shelters in the U.S., is that people did not keep up with the grooming. Or people get a Siamese or Oriental and then complain about the cat being too vocal, too active or too needy. Similar with the Bengal.

    The percentages of purebred/ pedigreed cats in shelters may be difficult to arrive at, especially considering how many cats in shelter get labeled as breeds they very likely ( or definitely) are not.
    In some shelters every blue cat is a “Russian Blue”, all largish size longhair cats ( or sometimes just the large longhair tabbies) are “Maine Coons”, white longhairs are “Turkish Angoras” and nearly all the pointed shorthairs are “Siamese” despite the fact that the gene causing this pattern has been spread through the random-bred cat population over the course of 100+ years, and there are many pointed moggies whose most recent Siamese ancestor was likely decades ago — which would make them way less than 1% Siamese. Similarly, long-haired cats with a pointed pattern are very often labeled as “Ragdolls”, “Balinese”, “Himalayans” or “Birmans”. ( Actually sometimes they’re “Siamese” too.)
    Spotted tabbies are often called Bengals and Egyptian Maus although the spotted tabby pattern has been in domestic cats all over the world for a long time.
    Interestingly many of these breeds — including Siamese ! – are less popular than the Sphynx but you don’t see shelters filled with Sphynx.
    I understand why shelters do this, either out of misunderstanding, perhaps thinking cats are like dogs and either a breed or a mix of breeds, or just putting a breed label on a cat to attract adopters. But it does cause confusion as to the number of “purebred” cats in shelters.

    Here is a link with stats from the American Humane Association. This mentions Domestic Shorthairs are 95% of pet cats in the U.S. (I’m guessing surely that must mean the Domestic Longhairs too; I know they’re a smaller percent than shorthair cats but surely more than 2% or so. IF that does include both shorthair and longhair moggies, that would make the “purebreds” 5% of pet cats.

    I’ve seen another statistic from a survey that said that the purebred cats were 3% of “owned cats”.

    In dogs, purebreds are estimated to be 53% of dogs in the U.S., and about 25% of dogs in shelters. If there’s a similar ratio in cats, that would make it about 1.5% to 2.5% of shelter cats being purebred/ pedigreed cats.
    I would not think there is a strong reason to believe that in cats the percent of purebreds entering shelters relative to their portion of the population would be any higher than it is for dogs; however, there is good reason to think it could be lower since many of the cats who end up in shelters are ferals/ “community cats” ( who really should be TNR’d and not rounded up and killed) So I would guess a figure of 1% may be closer to reality, though of course it would vary by location.

    We did adopt an 11 year old seal point cat who, judging from not only a pointed coat pattern but his body type, coat type, deep, very Siamese voice, may really have been a purebred Siamese of the old type or at least . The people who abandoned him had said they got him as a kitten with “papers” from CFA. Their reason for dumping this poor cat was that it was their son’s cat but the son had now gone to university and these parents just didn’t feel they wanted to bother with a cat anymore. They’re the ones who had made the decision to get this cat at a time when their son must have been a little boy in primary school. This cat was so sweet and social, and handsome, but people did not want such an “old” cat and he was about to be killed the next day. (My friend worked at the shelter which at that time, 20 years ago, had a much higher death rate and could not stand to kill this cat so he brought him home.

    ( BTW,this cat was declawed, but I don’t think that had anything to do with why he was dumped since he did not have any behavior issues that sometimes are associated with that abuse. It was just another example of these people’s callous attitude toward a wonderful cat. ) Luckily we had him for 7 more years. 🙂

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