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pets from shelters vs. breeders

My friend is considering buying a $600 maine coon cat from a breeder.  She takes in strays and has gotten cats from the pound, so it's not because she'll only have a pure bred it's just she likes those particular cats.

She hadn't heard anything before about why breeders aren't good places to get pets.  I tried to tell her about why shelter pets are better, but I'm not sure if I got through to her. 

Of all of the cats out there, a mostly maine coon can be found pretty frequently in the shelters.  I tried to encourage her to wait for one of those, but I'm not persuading her.  If I push too much I'm afraid she'll dig in her heels, so I only have a few shots total to make a convincing case and I've already used a shot.

Any help with why to avoid breeders/shelter cats are better would be greatly appreciated?

For one thing, breeder pets can have health problems due to a reduced gene pool. And not all breeders are up-front about them either. She should  make sure BEFORE she signs a purchase agreement (and there should be one from a responsible breeder) that there is a clause covering possible appearance of serious defects. A friend of mine purchased a cocker puppy which had been certified clear of hip displasia--only it turned out to be false. This is not always the case, I grant you.
Have you any info as to why in particular Maine Coons often appear in shelters? Here in Spain, oddly enough it is the longhaired cats that are the recognizable breeds that appear--basically because people get tired of them shedding, and of having to look after the long coat. If it's a reason like that, it might have more impact on her, since she does care for strays. I'm sure she could put in a request at the shelters that they contact her when a MC comes in...maybe if she knew she was on a "waiting list" for a free one, she wouldn't feel such urgency to spend that amount of money on a cat of the same breed.
I have to say, I got an Abyssinian kitten from a breeder when I was in college, and as the queen had been crated with her family until they were weaned, the kitten had not been very well socialized and was very wild for several months. I had been told by all and sundry that Abbys were "born loveable" but you certainly couldn't prove it by that particular kit. She was "the cat that walked by herself" all her life, and I think being bred in an artificial environment had a lot to do with it.
And of course, there's the whole saving a life thing which she already knows
Best of luck.


Regardless of the cost of purebreds and the problems of over breeding, I had a female dobie once that had thyroid problems and died of cardiomyopathy (sp?) both apparently classic dobie over breeding problems, do you think your friend might be persuaded by compassion? I see the euthanized cats being tossed casually into a trash can in the documentary Earthlings on youtube and that is way more than enough for me.

I got my one eyed kitty from my vet for free and he is in my face at 3 am like no purebred cat could ever be. He does the kitty thing perfectly.

Funny, last night while walking into a restaurant a woman was sitting outside so she could keep an eye on her Ridgebacks. We had a little conversation and it turns out she was in town for an AKC dog show. I know more about her dogs in thirty seconds than I ever learned about anything in 12 years in the NC public school system.

This is my first post by the way. Hi everyone.



I would just take her by the hand and have both of you volunteer at a city or county pound/shelter that euthanizes the "unwanted" pets. Let her see first hand how sweet and adorable the kitties are there. Let her see that they did nothing to deserve being stuck in doggie/kitty prison and sentenced to "death row" for a crime they did not commit. Let her go back with you the following weekend and inquire about some of the dogs and cats she may have been cleaning the "cells" of....or the dogs she walked, etc. If she has a heart (I'm sure she does), then she will have to rely on it to make the right decision. I know of no better way to show her. It will be good for the prisoners that you volunteer for, and it will be good to show her that those prisoners don't deserve to be on "death row"....when they say, But I Didn't Do it"! You can believe them.....they didn't! Nothing pulls on the heart stings more then knowing that the adorbale kitty in your arms may be "put down" in a few days if you don't take her home with you.

If this does not work....there is nothing you can do to change her mind.



Hi mdj! Pleased to meetcha! Always good to know there's a new VegWebber amongst us! :)


I love Maine Coons, but I would be reluctant to adopt a full bred. And I certainly wouldn't purchase one from a breeder. It just seems sort of unethical for someone to profit off of a sentient being. Most people frown upon buying children...

Unless your friend wants to be a breeder, they probably won't care about the cat's lineage. There are a lot of Maine Coon rescues in the U.S. (if that's where your friend is located). Here's the link to a nonprofit organization that has links to different regions:

And of course you can recommend Pet Finder:

There really is no reason to buy a pet from a breeder if you can adopt a health pet from a shelter or rescue group. It's less expense to adopt, and you can still find full bred pets.


Thanks for the detailed responses.  

Doh!  I forgot that she also wanted it to be a kitten.  It's kind of my fault she's going to a breeder.  One of the cats she took in I've nicknamed "Sexy Paws", because his paws are so large and hairy.  I tried to find out what breed he may have in him and found out the paws were Maine Coon and passed that info along to my friend.

yabbitgirl - I don't really have any "real" info about why maine coons come in to shelters more often.  On places like you can see adoptable pets in US shelters and you can search by breed.  The majority are American Shorthairs, but there are reliably Maine Coons and Turkish Vans.

mydogjo - Nice to meet you.  I think potential health problems are a good thing to bring up.  My friend will spend lots of money on medical care for her cats, but it takes an enormous emotional toll on her.

davedrum - It's interesting you brought up volunteering at a shelter.  I actually tried to volunteer at all of the kill shelters in my area.  My thought was that I wanted to help these animals look really good to give them a chance for adoption or to be there with them when they're killed so they would have someone who truely cared for them at their side.  However, each of the shelters said, nope, we have enough volunteers, thank you, we don't need any more.  That surprised me.

issaspiders - That's exactly what I think.  My friend like empirical knowlege and I only have mostly emotional knowledge on the subject.


Issa, I'm with you on the paying for an animal thing. I love to look at beautiful animals, but I know fine and well I'd never actually go out and spend major bucks (or even Euros) on a "breed" when there are beautiful freebies losing their lives every moment of every day. Besides there's hybrid vigor to be considered--the fancy way of saying that mutts and moggies are a LOT less sensitive to health and temperament/psychological issues than their overbred cousins, and also tend to be a bit less postlike in the brains department (I am NOT saying that all purebreds are stupid, but I've known quite a few personally that were. ;)) I could never, ever justify spending the price of a Russian blue cat, beautiful as they are, they are also rare here and can run a cool thousand bucks plus. Photos will have to do me. Someday I hope to have a new furry, be it dog, cat or both, to lavish my affection on--but they will be rescued. No question.


There are 3-4 million dogs and cats killed at shelters each year. Please tell your friend to get a rescue. Buying from breeders makes him/her responsible for at least 1 of those 3-4 million. 1 in 4 that go into shelters is purebred.*

Breeders care most (in the end) about money. Do you honestly think someone making their cat get pregnant and selling each kitten for hundreds of dollars cares about the well-being of any cats but theirs?
My friend has a dog who now has cancer because she wasn't fixed (she was a breeder dog). She was found on the side of the highway, shaved and it was very cold out. Her teeth were disgusting. She had breast tumors. She wasn't making any more money for the breeders so they dumped her like a piece of trash. Similar are the fates of many breeder animals.

Please tell your friend not to pay for a cat while millions will die in shelters this year. Not to be impolite to your friend but it's extremely selfish to buy from a breeder while a perfectly healthy animal dies. There are purebred available and maybe even a purebred rescue in your area.

I know some shelter workers are stressed from having a thankless job. We've had our share of shelter people in our area not be polite as they could be, even to animal rescue people! The animals suffer in the end for that reason. Please do not let their seeming unwillingness to let you help be a deterrent from finding a good home for an animal that desperately needs it. I am surprised that she would choose to buy from a breeder knowing how great rescued animals are.

*Please check for more info. This is where I got the numbers.


davedrum - It's interesting you brought up volunteering at a shelter.  I actually tried to volunteer at all of the kill shelters in my area.  My thought was that I wanted to help these animals look really good to give them a chance for adoption or to be there with them when they're killed so they would have someone who truely cared for them at their side.  However, each of the shelters said, nope, we have enough volunteers, thank you, we don't need any more.  That surprised me..

I am so surprised to hear that the area shelters would not let you volunteer! I know that a good deal of the larger ones have a class or orientation sometimes for volunteers. But, to just flat out say "no more needed" is so strange and forign to me. With an attitude like that I certainly hope the have a 100% adoption rate as well.....too many volunteers....... >:(
PS: remember, if eunthanized on a daily basis, over 1000 dogs and cats will be put down TODAY in the USA alone. Every single animal purchased from a breeder takes the place of a new home for one of those 1000 set to be "exterminated" today...for what?! They did nothing wrong. Pet over-population is a "people problem" not an "animal problem"....

Here are some HSUS facts and info: (sorry it's so long)...

HSUS Pet Overpopulation Estimates

Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:

6–8 million (HSUS estimate)

Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:

3–4 million (HSUS estimate)

Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:

3–4 million (HSUS estimate)

Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:

Between 600,000 and 750,000—15–30% of dogs and 2–5% of cats entering shelters (HSUS estimate)

Number of animal shelters in the United States:

Between 4,000 and 6,000 (HSUS estimate)

Percentage of dogs in shelters that are purebred:

25% (HSUS estimate)

Average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year: 3

Average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4–6

In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.

Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2

Average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6–10

In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs.

Solving the Pet Overpopulation Problem

The solution can be simply stated. Its implementation, however, requires sweeping efforts from a variety of organizations and people, including you.

The solution is this: Only by implementing widespread sterilization programs, only by spaying and neutering all companion animals, will we get a handle on pet overpopulation. Consider the fact that in six short years, one female dog and her offspring can give birth to 67,000 puppies. In seven years, one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.

Given these high reproductive rates, it stands to reason that, in only a few years, carefully planned and implemented sterilization programs could produce a dramatic reduction in the number of unwanted companion animals born. In fact, in those towns and cities that have implemented such programs, we've already seen the number of companion animals who had to be euthanized decline by 30 to 60 percent—even in those communities where human populations have been steadily increasing.

But these programs don't create themselves. They require the planning and coordination of many people. Successful pet population control programs range from subsidized sterilization clinics to cooperative efforts involving local veterinarians to mass media educational campaigns. Only through the continued nationwide establishment of such programs will we bring an end to the tragedy of pet overpopulation.

Community-Based Solutions

Legislation can have the most direct impact simply by requiring that every pet adopted from a municipal or county shelter be sterilized within a certain period of time. Similarly, differential-licensing laws—laws that substantially increase license fees for pets who have not been spayed or neutered—give owners an incentive to sterilize their pets.

Education, too, is an essential part of solving this problem. Unless people know the facts about pet overpopulation and sterilization, they are virtually helpless to do anything about the problem.

Reduced spay/neuter fees play an important role as well. Subsidized spay/neuter clinics and programs in some communities have already helped bring down the cost of sterilization. In areas where veterinarians have agreed to reduce their spay/neuter fees, we've seen a significant decline in the number of animals euthanized.

Finally, pet owners can do their part by having their companion animals spayed or neutered. This is the single most important step you can take. Have your pet sterilized so that he or she does not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, and adopt your next pet from an animal shelter.

The Crisis of Pet Overpopulation

Every day in the United States thousands upon thousands of puppies and kittens are born because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets. Add to that number the offspring of stray and abandoned companion animals, and the total becomes even more staggering. Every year, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters; some three to four million of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them.

Too many companion animals competing for too few good homes is the most obvious consequence of uncontrolled breeding. However, there are other equally tragic problems that result from pet overpopulation: the transformation of some animal shelters into "warehouses," the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.

Abandoned and stray companion animals that survive in the streets and alleys of cities and suburbs pose a health threat to humans and other animals. Homeless companion animals get into trash containers; defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and anger citizens who have no understanding of their misery or their needs. Some of these animals scare away or prey upon wildlife—such as birds—or frighten small children.

Clearly, pet overpopulation is not just a problem for the animals or for the shelters involved. Each year communities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars trying to cope with the consequences of this surplus of pets. These public costs include services such as investigating animal cruelty, humanely capturing stray animals, and sheltering lost and homeless animals.

Courtesy of HSUS ©



Thanks for the info Dave, I am going to translate parts of it and spread the info here where I live. A lot of people have this mistakenly anthropomorphic idea that neutering animals is bad for them (!!) but it's tied to the idea of *human* sexuality as part of our fulfillment--they're afraid they'll deny the animals some satisfaction, or the "joys" of motherhood!! I always respond that you don't miss what you've never had, so if you do the neutering when they're young, what do they know. But this info will be much much more effective. Kudos.


don't pets that get fixed live longer, healthier lives also? i think i read that someplace (something about having their "junk" removed).

i have a friend who purchased both her dogs. it does make me sad because, Issa and others noted, animals shouldn't be "put out" for profit. it really does make me sad that people "want" something so bad that they will pay $$$$$ for it.

when i adopted my cats, i always go in looking for a cat to adopt me. like, hey kitties, i want to have you come live with me..... as a result, i have two very sweet and needy cats (i need another set of arms to give them all the cuddles they want!). i couldn't imagine getting a pet by saying, well, this is the KIND i want and leaving it at that. personality is important, as is compatibility. you really loose that when you hunt out something specific. at least with waiting for a MC at the shelter, your friend could "meet" some cats and find one who wants to be her fur baby.

I totally agree that personality and compatibility are most important.  And I do think it's important to adopt from shelters.  But, I bought my white cat (the oldest currently living one) at a pet shop because when I asked to pet her, she loved up to me so much and was just begging me to take her home.  She wanted to be my daughter-cat so much and she still demands the most lap time of any of our cats.  The other four are pretty close behind her though.  If no one buys those cats from the breeder, won't they be destroyed, either by the breeder or sent to a shelter once they're not itty bitty kitties any more?  I think that breeding animals for profit is wrong, but if the welfare of animals is the most important thing then until kitty and puppy "mills" are outlawed, those cat and dogs deserve homes too.  So whether she spends a sh*tload of money on a cat from a breeder and probably a sh*tload of money at the veterinarian's office dealing with inbred problems, or goes the shelter route, a deserving cat will still be getting a much needed home!


If she does go to a breeder, thanks for helping me put it in perspective.  There may be better options, but a cat with probable health problems will be in a loving home with someone who will put out for the vet bills and not just abandon the cat.  I can live with that (I guess).  I mean, the cat doesn't know it came from a breeder.  Like I said, my friend feeds the neighborhood strays outside and has some indoor rescue cats, so she has some good karma she can trade in for a cat from a breeder.  The good news is if the cat really does have extra medical expenses it may discourage her from getting another cat from a breeder.

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