Maine coon breeder selection: Tips and considerations
Updated: Jun 8
These are my opinions and what I would personally look for if I was buying a Maine coon as a pet from the perspective of a Maine coon breeder. It's important to remember that breeders can do things differently than each other and it is up to the buyer to decide what they are comfortable with. It is common for people to go with the most popular breeders, cheapest breeders or because they have a specific color and forget about other important aspects.
Health, temperament and type
This is the order in which I would like to see a breeder select breeding animals. Bad health or a temperament that doesn't align with the Maine coon standard should automatically be a disqualification from being apart of a breeding program without exception. You are able to be more lenient with type because it is easy to breed out undesirable traits by breeding cats together that will compliment each other and not double up on any flaws but as the breeder gains more years of experience and is able to have multiple generations from their starting cats I would expect each litter of kittens to become better and closer to the standard. The Maine coon standard was created to tell you exactly what a Maine coon should look like and how they should act. Deviating from the standard by breeding whatever you want will result in a cat that will no longer look or act like a Maine coon and at that point there is no purpose in breeding.
It has become more prevalent for Maine coon breeders to breed for popular colors which is not a issue but some are forgetting about health and standard coming first. I have also seen an increase in breeding for blue eyes which is only standard if the cat also has white on it. Shaded and "high silver" or "high smoke" has become popular and along with it has come with some of these Maine coons looking like a Persian mix as if these breeders are mixing in Persians and calling them Maine coons to get these desired colors. Again breeding for the colors that people want is not a bad thing if breeders can continue to put health and standard first. I would want a breeder I am buying from making a well thought out decision on which cats to pair together to compliment each other instead of placing random cats together with only the color they can produce in mind.
Within the Maine coon breed is common health issues that include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Hip dysplasia and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Some of these issues are able to be DNA tested for, some have multiple undiscovered causes and some can occur even when the parents are tested negative for it. It is recommended for breeders to do a full DNA panel, repeated hip x-rays, and echocardiograms. Because hip dysplasia and HCM can occur even when parents test negative, it has become more common for breeders to not do hip x-rays or echocardiograms while charging the same rate as breeders who do. Regal Lane Maine coons is among the few catteries with fully health tested cats and that is something I would also look for in a Maine coon breeder.
Social media & websites
A part of any business is social media marketing and building a "brand" along with a website. Building a following and being active on social media ensures that breeders have homes for their kittens prior to breedings and shows a seriousness in the breed since it takes A LOT of time to build and manage multiple accounts. I would like to see breeders active on social media all the time and not just to market kittens by posting more personal things that will give buyers insight into the life of the kitten they will be buying as well as to see how they are living to be sure they are in clean and safe conditions. I believe that websites are important especially because buyers are going to be shopping around and it makes it more difficult for them by having to message a breeder 500 times to get all of the information. I personally started building my website before even purchasing a female and I put every piece of information on there to avoid this.
To be continued...