I feel it is important to ascertain what is the motivation behind why a Breeder is in fact choosing this lifestyle. It can be easy for a Breeder to leave out the fact that their motivation is mostly profit-driven, but you still should be able to tell by their actions. Some questions you should ask yourself is: Is the breeder taking any short-cuts to obtain more profit by using cheap inferior food, is the Breeder knowledgeable about the history of the Breed and specific health concerns to avoid, is the breeder intentionally holding onto kittens longer to raise the price based upon quality, what are the goals the Breeder has for her Breeding program...in other words, is she just breeding any animals or is she trying to better the breed? The reason why motivation is so important is that if profit is the bottom line, then short-cuts will likely lead to a kitten whose health and temperament can be questionable.
Every Breeder should have extensive knowledge about the history of the Breed, importance of genetic screenings and understanding pedigree lines, about Breed temperament and social characteristics, and they should have a mentor. In the case of breeding, Ignorance is Not Bliss! Understanding the history of the breed allows a breeder to understand where the Bengal Breed is getting it's characteristics but also which genetic screenings to use to increase the overall health of the Breeder's lines and the Breed itself. Breeding without genetic screenings is what keeps harmful genetics in the bloodlines. Is the Breeder even aware of what the pedigrees to their Breeding Bengals are? Where did they get their Breeding Bengals from for pulling from close by can create too tight of a gene pool. Fresh Bengal lines should be pulled from afar. It is also important that the Breeder is knowledgeable enough to give accurate information to prospective buyers in order for buyers to make an informed decision if Bengals are a right fit for their situation. Breeders that are out for profit won't care whom they sell to. Lastly, having a Mentor means that the Breeder has a support system and are less likely to make ignorant mistakes.
Environment and Socialization
It should be important to understand how the Breeder is not only keeping the kittens you are buying but also how is the Breeder treating the Breeding Bengals themselves. You don't want to unwittingly encourage kitty mills, sacrificing the lifestyle of the Breeding Bengals just for an "economical" kitten. This information also goes back into what is the motivation behind Breeding. You should also ask if there is a concise "Socialization Program" in place to insure that every kitten being produced is going to have that famous Bengal social temperament. Remember, a Breeder that has a smaller operation won't necessarily produce a better socialized kitten because of the perception of more intense care than another Breeder with a larger operation as long as there is a good Socialization Program in place! So I highly encourage you to visit the environment of the Cattery in person if you can and question the Breeder on their Socialization Program. This is more important for Bengals specifically because they are bred to be very social and absolutely require stimulation and if this fact is being ignored by the Breeder, than you should be prepared to re-socialize your kitten!
One very effective way to know if a Breeder's Socialization Program is in fact working is to hear from other previous buyers how their experiences were! Were their kittens healthy, socially well-adjusted, litter box trained, and representative of the Bengal breed? Hearing of another's Bengal experience will also give you an idea of how well Bengals will fit into your situation. Keep in mind, this is part of doing your research, after all before you make a large life-long investment like a house or a car do you not do thorough research and look at customer reviews? A Breeder whom takes great pride in what they are producing will boldly have testimonials right on their webpage/facebook page. A Breeder whom also seeks feedback is obviously looking to educate themselves and evolve into a better Breeder.
Another factor to consider is Reputation. It is a good sign if a Breeder is in fact selling some of the kittens to other Breeders, because this says they have a Reputation good enough for other Breeders to hang their Reputation on! How active is the Breeder in the Bengal community? Can you find the Breeder online in the TICA organization, Bengal Cat Directory, Bengals Illustrated, the FaceBook community, ect? An active involvement in the Bengal community shows that there is a passion for the Bengal Breed and that they're interested in sharing and learning from other Breeders. Does the Breeder have a Reputable Breeder status in any organization? This would show they take the time to let everyone know how dedicated they are to the Breed as this distinction requires higher standards and hoops to jump through and is not achieved easily. Another good sign of Reputation is how quickly are they getting their kittens homes. If you have a Breeder that is trying to sell an older kitten verses a Breeder whom has a wait list of people clamoring for their kittens, then you have to ask yourself what is the difference everyone else is seeing? Sometimes going with a Breeder simply because you can get your kitten faster as opposed to waiting for a quality kitten from a Breeder with a well-known reputation can have unforeseen consequences later. There may be a reason your kitten was available so quickly that you are not aware of.
People buy Bengals for many different reasons. Some do so for the hypoallergenic nature they have, while others like the dog-like personality they are known for, but more do so for the exotic wild appearance that garners attention everywhere. I like to call this "the WOW factor." In the show ring, titles are won by how closely a Bengal will adhere to a strict standard that was determined by TICA. In the rest of the world, quality is determined by the glittered plush pelts that show stark contrast and bold dark colors that scream EXOTIC. Simply put, not all Bengals are created equal and if you have a Breeder that has taken the time and invested savings into purchasing Breeding Bengals that are high quality, than the kittens produced will likely carry the same high quality. A Breeder that wants to show off the caliber of their Breeding Bengals will not only devote entire web pages to showcasing the Queens and Studs but also will be displaying many pictures of present AND previous litters so you can peruse the quality produced yourself! A smart Breeder will not only display quality photos and pedigree of their Breeding Bengals, but should also give photos of the Bengal's parents as well for Quality should be shown within the pedigree, after all looks can sometimes skip a generation. Quality can also be seen in terms of health, which should be obvious if the Breeder practices genetic/vet screenings. Great temperament is another significant aspect of quality, which can be portrayed in the testimonials/references as well as physically meeting the cattery. Breeders whom mention personalities of their Breeding Bengals on the respective Queens and Studs web pages are obviously showing they understand the importance of temperament.
Sometimes it seems simpler to choose a Breeder on what seems to be the more "economical" price. However, the phrase you get what you paid for can hold true sometimes. This does not necessarily mean that Breeders that charge more are giving a better quality kitten for price gauging does in fact occur in any industry. The best means of deciding if you are in fact getting what you paid for is to take the entire picture into consideration. Simply put determine what exactly are you being offered in exchange for your hard-earned money?
There are many reasons why a Breeder will choose to price their kittens a certain amount.
Monetary Factors a Breeder must consider are:
- Costs of purchasing top quality Bengals with good healthy bloodlines with Breeding Rights
- the costs of "quality food" (Where some Breeders take a short-cut and get cheap food)
- lab-grade supplements (Where some Breeders take a short-cut and don't use any supplements)
- Vet expenses
- genetic/vet screenings (Where some Breeders take a short-cut and don't do any screenings)
- Bengal organization fees (Some Breeders don't participate in Bengal organizations)
- pheromone diffuses and refills for Cattery harmony (Most Breeders use cages and don't need this)
- pedigree/litter/breeder registration fees
- medical supplies like syringes, IV fluids, Vitamin injections
- vaccinations and Dewormer for kittens
- any products that are bought for Kitten Care packages (Some Breeders don't give Care Packages)
Time Consuming Factors a Breeder must consider are:
(I can't stress enough the importance of the time a Breeder must take out of their lives)
- Time needed to research and educate yourself on all things Breeder and Bengal
- Time needed to pick out Breeding Bengals and actually drive or fly to get them
- Being up all night to help a Queen deliver her litter
- Hand feeding a litter of kittens day/night if the litter is too big for the queen to handle by herself
- to answer your calls/texts/emails and questions
- have you visit before placing deposit, when you choose a kitten, and again to pick up your kitten
- to handle and socialize with the kittens on a daily basis, Ok, that is actually one of the best parts! --->Breeders may say they socialize, but NOT early, intensely, or consistently enough to matter!!
- feed cats/kittens
- scoop tons of litter boxes
- clean up after accidents/spills/general mayhem
- photographing Breeding Bengals and kittens as they develop at various ages
- update website Blog or current/previous photos or Depositor List --->Most Breeders don't do much with their websites and almost none actually have a Blog
- update FaceBook and YouTube
- stay active in the Bengal community
- put together everything needed for an awesome Kitten Care Package
- give courtesy calls to previous buyers to remind them of re-vaccination time and follow-up --->How many businesses do you know give courtesy calls for helpful reminders and follow-up?
- registering litters/pedigree
- dealing with the noisy caterwauling and hormonal-induced behavior of my Breeding Bengals
- actually spending the time to purchase & pick up everything the cattery needs & organizing it
- Researching answers and information to pass on to the buyers, such as low cost neuter/spay
If the Breeder you are considering is NOT spending the money they are making on all of these factors OR spending their time with everything that's needed to Responsibly Breed, THEN the Breeder is taking shortcuts and you are spending too much! Kitten Prices should be based upon how much a Breeder is investing into their Breeding program AND how much of their time they are using to breed responsibly.
You are spending a considerable amount of money but more importantly, your time and heart into a companion that should stay with you for 14-18 years. With this kind of significant investment, it is very prudent that you take the time to research and choose the best Breeder for you to ensure that you are getting what you paid for in terms of quality, health, and temperament. You should ask serious questions to access a Breeder's motivation, knowledge, socialization program, breeding goals, testimonials/references, reputation, and if the cost is representative of what the breeder is offering.