Your Kitten's Papers
By Audrey Pavia
Published in CATS U.S.A in 1997
The moment you've been waiting for is here. Your search for the right breeder has finally paid off, you've picked your perfect kitten out of the litter, and now you are getting ready to bring home your new companion. However, your new kitten isn't the only thing you'll be bringing home with you on your way back from the breeder's. A bundle of paperwork will also accompany the two of you as you head for home.
When buying a purebred kitten from a breeder, an abundance of paperwork is par for the course. The packet of documents your kitten's breeder will give you should include a registration application, a purchase contract, medical records and other materials, depending on the breeder. As the kitten's buyer, you have a responsibility to read--and honor--each of these documents.
Let's take a look at each of these different pieces of paperwork, what they mean and what your responsibility as a kitten owner is regarding each of them.
The purchase contract supplied by your breeder is probably the single most important document you will receive with your new kitten. It provides a health guarantee, details your responsibilities as an owner and tells you what you can expect in the future from your kitten's breeder.
Individual purchase contracts are usually created by each breeder, although in some cases, a breeder will use a contract provided by a parent breed club. The main purpose of a purchase contract is to identify the kitten that was sold, and to establish, in writing, the responsibilities of both the buyer and the seller. The signatures of both parties are required on the contract, which is considered a legal document.
The information on a purchase contract varies from breeder to breeder. Whether a breeder designs his or her own contract or uses one provided by a breed club, the information contained in the document reflects issues that the breeder feels strongly about.
Purchase contracts written by breeders themselves are by far the most common type of agreement given to new kitten owners. Helen Johns, a breeder of Maine Coons and the owner of Pedropurrs Cattery, gives her new kitten owners a two-page purchase agreement to read and sign at the time they take possession of their new cat.
Johns' purchase contract covers basic descriptive information on the individual kitten, and then outlines the responsibilities of the buyer and the breeder. Included in this agreement is the requirement that pet kittens be altered before one year of age, that kittens receive booster shots and yearly veterinary examinations, that cats will not be allowed outside except on a leash or in an enclosed run, cats will not be declawed and that cats will not be sold or given away to any one without the breeder's permission.
Many breeders take the opportunity in their purchase contracts to impress upon new owners the importance of certain issues. For example, in John's agreement the statement "The cat will receive frequent and kind human attention" appears. Because Johns feels strongly that cats and kittens should inoculated only with killed virus vaccines, the wording "Pedropurrs will not be responsible for any live vaccines given," also is included in the contract.
The purchase contract created by Singapura breeder Margaret LaBounty, owner of Mutiny Farms, states, "Mutiny Farms is concerned with the welfare of this animal for the duration of its life." LaBounty backs this sentiment up with written details in her contract stating that she, as the breeder, will work with the purchaser to secure a mutually agreeable new home for the animal. "If this is not successful," the contract reads, "the seller has the right to have the animal returned."
Carol Merrill, a breeder of Scottish Folds, supplies her kitten buyers with a purchase contract created by the International Scottish Fold Association. Merrill uses this form because it contains all the important information she believes is necessary in a purchase contract, and because it reflects the policies and ethics of the Scottish Fold parent club, of which she is a member.
The International Scottish Fold Association Cat/Kitten Purchase Agreement is typical of a parent club-issued purchase contract. It begins by asking for a description of the kitten or cat sold. The breeder fills in this section, which calls for the animal's breed, color, sex, sire, dam and date of birth. The name of the buyer is required, as is the amount of purchase.
As with most purchase contracts, the agreement also lists a number of specifications, which the buyer agrees to by virtue of his or her signature. This includes an indication of whether the kitten is being purchased as a pet or show cat, and, if it is a show cat, whether or not it will be bred. If the kitten is a pet only, the purchaser agrees to neuter or spay the kitten between the age of 7 to 12 months, providing a veterinarian's certificate of altering to the seller within that time.
Other terms in the contract include the kitten's health guarantee, with states that the kitten is in sound health. The purchaser is required to have the kitten examined by a licensed veterinarian within three days of receipt for their own satisfaction of health. If a health problem is discovered during this time, the seller agrees to refund the purchase price or replace the kitten.
An important clause in this contract is the statement that the purchaser will never sell, lease or give the kitten to any pet shop, research laboratory or humane society. The seller retains first rights to buy back the kitten for the same amount it was sold should the purchaser no longer wish to keep the cat.
The International Scottish Fold Association contract states that the kitten or cat sold will not be declawed unless prior written permission is given to the purchaser from the seller. It also requires that the kitten not be allowed to roam outdoors.
The health guarantee is an important part of any purchase contract, and buyers should read this section of the contract carefully before they sign the agreement. Typically, contracts state that it is the buyer's responsibility to take the kitten to a veterinarian of his or her choice within three days of purchase to ensure that the animal is free from parasites and disease. Normally, if the kitten is found to have a health problem within this time, the breeder will take responsibility for the illness. This means the breeder will either pay the veterinary costs incurred, or will replace the kitten with another one free of charge. In some contracts, such as the one issued by the International Scottish Fold Association, it is stated that the cat will be replaced should it die from a congenital defect at any time during its life.
As with any legal document, it is important to read and understand the contents of the purchase agreement before you sign it. This document should remain with you for the remainder of your cat's life.
Another important document you will receive with your kitten is its registration application form. In many cases, you may not receive this document at the time you purchase your kitten since many breeders require proof that the kitten was spayed or neutered before they will relinquish this form to the buyer. Whether you receive your application at the time of purchase or several months later after your cat has been altered, you can still register your pet with whatever registry or registries your breeder uses.
The registration application form is usually a blue piece of paper that will allow you to apply for individual registration of your purebred kitten. Your kitten's litter was registered by the breeder when the kittens were born. If you wish to register your kitten as an individual with its own name, you will need to fill this form out and send it to the appropriate registry with your registration fee. Both The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), two of the larger feline registries, charge $7.00 to register an individual cat.
Your registration application will contain information supplied by the breeder. This will include your kitten's breed, date of birth, litter number, color, eye color, sex, sire, dam and breeder. In order to register your kitten, you must fill out the portion of the application that asks for the kitten's new name, and your own name and address.
According to Leslie Bowers, business manager for TICA, it is important for new owners registering their kittens to correctly fill out the section of the application that calls for the kitten's name. "TICA has specific rules on how to name a kitten," she says. "It's very important that new kitten owners read the back of the registration application on a litter-registered kitten to make sure they know the rules on naming a kitten before they fill out the form," she says. "If they don't, they may get stuck with a name they don't want, and will then have to pay $50 to get it changed."
When you receive your registration application from the breeder, check to make sure that the information regarding color and sex is correct. The breeder is also required to check off whether the cat will or will not be used for breeding. Examine the form to make sure that your kitten's breeder has checked and signed the appropriate section on breeding status. Omitted information on the registration application will delay your kitten's papers.
Several weeks after you have filled out your registration application and mailed it in with your registration fee, you will receive your kitten's certificate of registration. "After the registration application is received, it is processed into our computer," says Janet Booth, supervisor of registration at the Cat Fanciers Association. "We send back a certificate of registration to the kitten owner, which contains all the information on it that the registration application contained." This document will show your kitten's new registered name as well as its sire and dam, breed, color and birthdate, breeder, registration number and your name and address.
If you do not plan to show your kitten, the certificate of registration can serve simply to remind you of how well-bred your companion is. However, if you are going to show your kitten in any recognized shows, you will need proof of registration to enter.
Responsible breeders normally provide their kitten buyers with a copy of the animal's health records. This will show the exact dates that the kitten was inoculated for panleukopenia (FPL), rhinotracheitis (FVR), calicivirus (FCV) and feline pneumonitis (FPN). If the kitten is over the age of 14 weeks at the time of purchase, another series of inoculations for the same illnesses should have been administered, and will appear on the health record. If the breeder has had the kitten wormed, the date of worming will also be indicated.
Any other shots or medications the kitten received while in the breeder's possession should also show on the health record. This record will serve as the foundation of your cat's preventative care. When you take your kitten to the veterinarian for the first time shortly after purchase, you will need to provide him or her with a copy of this health record. The veterinarian will then use these dates as a basis for the kitten's future booster shots, which should be given annually.
Depending on the breeder, there may be other paperwork included in the packet of documents you receive. Some breeders, like Margaret LaBounty, provides buyers of her Singapuras with complete pedigrees. "I have a computer program that allows me to do pedigrees," she says. "I give one to every kitten buyer so they can have a record of their cat's breeding." These types of computer-generated pedigrees typically list a cat's ancestors as far back as four generations.
Breeder Carol Merrill gives her buyers a sheet that lists the type of food her kittens eat, the type of litter they prefer and information on how to make the new change in lifestyle less stressful for the kitten.
Helen Johns takes this concept one step further by providing new owners with a two-page fact sheet that she borrowed from another breeder of Maine Coons on how to take care of a cat. This includes information on how to feed, groom (including bathing) and clip nails. She also makes convincing statements about why cats should be kept indoors and the down side of declawing. A large section on what types of toys are safe and appealing, along with a list of suggested reading material is also included. Remember that the purchase contract, health record and registration information and other paperwork provided by your kitten's breeder are invaluable. They are all important documents you will want to keep and refer to for the remainder of your cat's life.