This is a difficult question for me because I have always adopted unwanted cats. These are free in terms of purchasing but of course the cost is very similar in terms of maintenance over the lifetime of the cat.
Really, the first thing that you have to check is your decision to adopt a pedigree cat. There are plenty of unwanted, beautiful cats in shelters. You might wish to rethink the matter and you never know, you just might find a pedigree cat at the shelter. It happens.
If your heart is set on a pedigree cat then you have to choose from over 100 breeds. Some cat breeds are inherently more healthy than others. Do your research on that. This website has lots of information about the health of the mainstream cat breeds. You can start here.
You’ll be checking the health of the breed against the appearance that you prefer. The most popular cat breeds are the ones that you probably have heard about such as the Persian, Siamese, Abyssinian, Turkish Angora, Oriental Shorthair, Maine Coon et cetera.
You will also check the breed characteristics. Cat breeds can have general personality traits (e.g. the vocal and loyal Siamese) but individual cat traits supercede breed traits. That means selecting the breed and then the individual cat. There are tons of pages on the cat breeds on this site!
Once you’ve decided upon the breed then you have got to check the breeders. Those in the know say that it is wise to visit the breeder to see how she looks after her cats and how she socialises them. Ask to see the facilities to reassure yourself that the cats are well treated, indeed loved and that the breeder has a genuine concern for the welfare of the animals that she creates. Some don’t. A lot of people buy their pedigree cats online, at a distance and the cat is shipped to them. This is convenient but not recommended.
Once you are face-to-face with the breeder and buying your cat there are certain papers to ask for. These are as follows:
- Registration certificate
- The kitten’s pedigree or family tree
- Proof of vaccinations
- Complete health record
- A record of the health and temperament of the kitten’s parents
- A list of foods the kitten has been eating
- The contract. I would ask for a contract. They might not have one. The contract should include the right to return your cat if he/she was unhealthy at the time of purchase. I feel that this is a tricky point because you might not know for sure whether your cat is healthy at the time of purchase. The records should show this, however, provided they are accurate. Perhaps the best course of action is to make sure that the contract allowe you to return the kitten within a given period if he does not pass a veterinarian’s examination. If there is no contract I’d write one down in manuscript after you have discussed things and then both parties sign and date it. Contracts prevent upset.
You will have to exercise some gut feel and commonsense in order to assess the integrity of the breeder.
Afterthought: If you have to sue on the contract, this page may help.