It isn't easy to find the right breeder regardless of the breed you are researching. However, because the Siberian's popularity has skyrocketed over the last 3 or 4 years there has been an marked increase in the number of scams and breeders who are counting on the breed's popularity to pad their income.
If a breeder is doing things the right way, the reality is that there is little or no money to be made in raising them. Again, DOING THINGS THE RIGHT WAY is the key part. Keep in mind that by "the right way", I mean breeding so that health is a priority, the Siberian continues to look Siberian, and the breeder contributes to the welfare of the breed and cats as a whole. These are the things I value and I hold myself to the same standard.
What to Look for in a Responsible Breeder!
When starting your search there are some basic things to consider:
Go with your gut! If something doesn't seem right, move on.
Responsiveness - Is the breeder willing to answer your questions or do they seem annoyed or do they avoid answering reasonable questions.
Pictures - a picture does speak a thousand words. Are the kittens pictured healthy looking or do they appear to have goopy eyes or crusty noses. Do their surroundings look reasonably clean? Do you only get 1 or 2 pictures of the kitten and then no more?
Health - Does the breeder health screen beyond the basics of FeLV/FIV? This means ultrasounds for HCM by a board certified veterinary cardiologist. Are they (at a minimum) DNA tested negative for PKD-1 or ultrasounded for PKD, and DNA tested for PK Def. There are no good reasons to skip these tests. We drive 12 hours round trip to have our cats screened. It's a matter of priorities. Saying a cat is from "HCM free lines" is not sufficient. Most breeding lines have a relatively incomplete history, minimal data and lack of sharing of information in the earlier years. In addition, very few pet owners conduct necropsies. So these claims are not a good reason so skip this important part of breeding.
Prices - Average range for a Siberian Cat is $900 - $1600. Is the price too low or too high? The "rare color" excuse is often used to justify outrageously high prices. There are no rare colors - there are recessives and less common colors and patterns but none meet the true definition of rare except maybe a male tortie. The honest reason would be that some colors such as goldens are more in demand and breeders charge more because they can. However, it costs no more to raise a golden, a silver, or a colorpoint than it does to raise a brown tabby.
The Sale! Does the breeder have a lot of "Sales". Reputable breeders aren't used car sales people. If you see ads for "Black Friday Sales" "Buy One Get One.." "Flash Sale!" these are red flags. You aren't buying a TV, you are looking for a pet. Those times when breeders discount it is generally the occasional kitten that was retained for evaluation. However, if the breeder often has older kittens "priced to move" this is a concern.
The Never Ending Supply - Does the breeder seem to have an endless supply of kittens? A responsible breeder breeds when there is a need, a good pairing to be made, and when there are quality homes waiting. Does the breeder seem more like a "Kitten Producer" than a "Responsible Breeder?"
The Standard - When breeders use the term "Standard" they mean the written definition of what the breed should look like. Is the breeder adhering to the breed standard? Do their breeding cats look Siberian? As the breed has grown in popularity, we are seeing more breeders selling anything and everything as breeding cats when in reality only a select group meet the standard, have the right temperament, and the best health. These breeders who buy pet quality to breed often then turn around and sell their pet quality offspring to other new breeders and we see a slippery slope as the breed gradually stops being recognizable.
Showing - Does the breeder make an effort to show their cats? This can help alleviate the dangers of breeding pets to pets. It helps the breeder get feedback on their cats. They can see the standard in action. Showing is also a commitment of time and money and opens the breeder up to receiving criticism and being educated. At the same time, you become more knowledgeable and are able to educate judges and spectators on the nuances of the breed. As we say, the best way to educate about the breed is to show exceptional examples of the Siberian.
Involvement - Is the breeder involved with the fancy, show or breed clubs, health related research, etc. For example, we donate a portion of each kitten's fee to worthy charities and research.
Organizational Censure - Check the website for CFA to see if the cattery or breeder is listed on the suspension list. TICA also has a suspension list but they only list these in their quarterly publication called "The Trend".
We all enjoy a good bargain and the internet is full of them. However, it is also a great place to get taken advantage of and when it comes to buying a pet this is especially true.
The main areas of operation for these scams are the online classifieds such as Hoobly and Felines4Us, just to name a couple. Now there are some legitimate breeders advertising on these sites, but in reviews of them they are out numbered about 20:1. These scams mean the buyer pays for the “kitten” and there is not really a kitten.
Some Red Flags for Scams!
Price too low or too high: The average price range for a pet Siberian kitten is $900 - $1600 with allowances made for regional differences and practices such as early altering which includes the cost of spay or neuter in the price. When a kitten is priced very low the tactic is done to encourage the person to jump at the bargain basement price. However, there is a reason breeders charge what they charge and in most cases it does not mean they make money. On the other hand, we have the price that is inordinately high. This can be done as a way to encourage a sizable deposit.
Pictures that seem familiar: If you've been browsing websites of breeders and see pictures that seem familiar in these online ads that is because many of them are lifted from blogs and websites of real breeders. In fact, there have been some websites that have been completely copied. A good way to spot these types of sites are those that end in .cc (carbon copy).
Poor spelling and Grammar: While some breeders are not from the U.S. and this may be an issue of a language barrier, when it comes to online classifieds these are more likely to read like phishing emails or the ever popular email letters telling you that you could be inheriting millions from a Nigerian prince. One ad I found read like this: “Well organized Siberian Kittens for sale” Well organized? Wow, they are doing better than me! I’m not well organized at all! Maybe I should train my Siberians to clean out my closets or straighten up my pantry.
Pictures that don’t look Siberian: Amazingly enough I’ve seen pictures of everything from American Shorthairs to Persians advertised as Siberians. Granted, kittens go through some awkward phases but come on!
Strange Registries: The International Cat Association (TICA), Cat Fancier's Association (CFA), American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA), Canadian Cat Fancier's (CCA) are the main North American registries. Your breeder should have their cattery registered and their kittens should be registerable. Be careful of breeders who state their cats are registered with America's Pet Registry. This organization will register any animal as a breed for $10. I saw one kitten "registered" as a Siberian, a Persian, and a Ragamuffin. In reality, it may have been a random domestic longhair now deemed whatever breed they picked.