On September 27, 2010, Floppycats.com interviewed Andra Schroeder Of Little Apple Ragdolls. Andra can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or online at: http://www.littleappleragdolls.com/
1. How long have you been breeding Ragdolls?
We started breeding Ragdolls in 2007, so at this point we are approaching 4 years.
2. How did you pick Ragdolls to breed?
We were first introduced to the breed when a vet told us that one of our barn cats looked and acted like a Ragdoll. We loved that cat, so it made us start looking into the breed. We fell in love with the breed over time and eventually purchased our first Ragdoll. The breed was everything we hoped for and more. We love the long, soft coat of fur and the calm, cuddly personality. We also love the playfulness and dog-like characteristics the breed displays such as greeting us at the door, and wanting to be involved in whatever we are doing. We truly think they are the best cats!
3. Do you show? Why or why not?
We have shown only a little. Our purpose in showing is to make sure our kittens are conforming to breed standards and to meet other breeders. Unfortunately, we have found that in order to be active in shows, our time spent socializing and raising our kittens would be pretty limited. So while we do plan to get into a showing a little more, we will always make our kittens our first priority.
4. What congenital defects are in Ragdolls?
There is one major genetic condition found in Ragdolls that most people familiar with the breed are aware of: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is essentially heart disease which can cause death in kittens at a very young age. Fortunately, genetic testing is available and so there is little reason for any breeding cats to even be carriers of the known HCM gene. There are other genetic defects common to various breeds of cats such as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). There is also always a small possibility of other congenital defects and conditions that can occur developmentally or as a result of random genetic mutations.
5. How are you breeding to avoid those defects?
Our current practice has been to work closely with our vet at Kansas State University to thoroughly check over all our breeding cats to make sure they are completely healthy and have no defects themselves. We also do DNA testing to check for HCM and other known genetic markers and only breed cats that are “double-negative” for these genes. If we were to have kittens with congenital defects not seen in the parents, we will work with our vet to determine if the defect is a random defect, or if it is possible that the parents passed it down. If we find out that the parents are passing a defect on to their kittens we will refrain from breeding those parents together and possibly retire the breeders. In our opinion, only kittens with no congenital defects or other health concerns should be kept as breeders. While other factors such as size, color, and temperament must be considered in selecting breeders, we feel strongly that health should never be compromised in order to select for other traits.
6. How large is your breeding operation?
We currently have 2 boys (kings) and 4 girls (queens). We like to stay small enough that we can spend a lot of time with each litter of kittens we have.
7. Where do your cats spend most of their time?
We are a mother/daughter cattery and have our cats split between our two homes. We each have one of the boys and some of the girls. The kittens start out in a nesting area until they are about 4 weeks of age. At that point they move to a litter training area that is a little bigger, but small enough that we can help them as they are litter training. This space is about the size of a bathroom. Once they are fully litter trained, usually at about 6 to 7 weeks of age, we let them run the whole house.
8. Do you breed full time? In other words, do you have another job?
We breed full time. My mother is a retired school teacher and I stay at home with the Ragdolls.
9. What sort of health guarantees do you offer?
Every breeding program has a slightly different focuses. We decided early on that kitten health would be one of our top priorities. We are fortunate to work with the Kansas State University Vet School for all our kitten care, and they are extremely thorough as well as an invaluable resource for us. When we keep back kittens or purchase new breeders, health is something we won’t compromise on. Having said all that, here is our “official” health guarantee from our contract:
1. We guarantee this kitten to be healthy to the best of our knowledge. This kitten is guaranteed for 1 week against, but not limited to the following ailments: upper respiratory infection, internal and external parasites, and FELV/FIV.
2. We recommend that you take the kitten to a licensed veterinarian for a health exam within this one week period. If any health concerns are found, you may return the kitten to us sometime in that first week with an explanation from the attending vet and we will replace your kitten with a kitten of equal quality when one becomes available.
3. We guarantee this kitten to be free from genetic disease for one year. If a genetic disease is found, we will replace your kitten with one of equal quality upon receiving record of the disease from a licensed veterinarian. If the kitten dies within this one year period, we will require a necropsy from a licensed veterinarian to determine the cause of death before we will replace the kitten.
10. What happens if the kitten gets sick?
This has rarely happened, but we hope that the new owners will contact and use us as a resource even months or years after they have adopted their new kitten. Just like humans, cats can catch colds or come in contact with viruses and bacteria. We are more than happy to give advice to new owners and even run any problems they are having by our vet.
11. Do you have any fun adoption stories to share?
I have two that are very dear to me:
1. One of our kittens that loved to fetch ended up learning to fetch laundry that the family would throw down their laundry shoot. They wrote one time and said that he would even fetch full sized bath towels! He would drag them all the way up the stairs and back to them. He’s a big cat, but the image of him dragging a full sized bath towel always makes me laugh.
2. We have a lot of stories about kittens immediately getting along with the dogs at their new homes. But probably my favorite is the kitten that learned how to get downstairs while the family was away from home, just so he could be with the dogs. This was only a week after he arrived at their home.
12. What makes this kitten or cat “pet quality” or “show quality”?
When we pick out “show quality” kittens, we are mainly picking kittens that have the right color markings, structure, and personality to do well in the show halls. Most of our kittens have great structure and most would do well as far as personality is concerned, but some will have color marks that go outside the “show” standards. We are working towards having all “show quality” kittens, but it is very hard to predict how the markings will come in and very hard to control.
13. Do you keep some of your cats for your own?
Yes. Of our current 6 breeders, 4 of them are kittens that we raised up from our own lines. We also have one girl we kept as a pet.
14. How old is your oldest cat?
While we have had cats most of our lives, the oldest Ragdoll cat currently still with us is Emma, who we’ve had for about 3 years now. Our oldest breeder overall (the one we purchased first) is 4 years old now. She is retired and with a new family. Our oldest kittens that have been adopted are about 3 years old now.
15. What is your favorite Ragdoll look?
While we like all the colors and patterns, I think seal lynx bicolor is our favorite. It probably shows, since we have 3 breeders that are that pattern. We also like the wide head and long body we found first in our Crispin lines and will continue on with his son Pippin.
16. Do you raise your cats underfoot?
Yes, though we do try to avoid that literally speaking J. When I get out of bed and it’s still dark, I usually do a shuffle for this very reason!
17. Do you send photos of the parents before you adopt a kitten? Or do you post the parents on the website?
We are always happy to send pictures, but we try to have lots of pictures of all our breeders on our website so people can see them there just as easily.
18. Do you send the kitten’s pedigree when you adopt a kitten?
We are happy to provide the pedigree if people are interested in it.
19. Will it be a problem if one requests, and wants to pay for, the CatGenes DNA testing before one accepts a kitten?
Not at all. We are happy to do the DNA test and we understand why people would want to. We also are willing to provide the DNA results of both parents to our customers, so they can avoid the expense of doing the testing themselves.
20. Can people interested in purchasing one of your cats visit your cattery?
Yes. We love to have visitors.
21. If a possible adoptee cannot visit your cattery, are you willing to talk to your adoptee on the phone?
Yes. We provide our phone number on our website and I’m always happy to talk to people on the phone.
22. How do you honor your health guarantee?
23. What if a kitten gets adopted and the customer is unhappy with a kitten, what do you do?
This has actually never happened, so we have never really talked about it much. We would prefer, if possible, to help the customer find a suitable home for the kitten. If the situation ever came up, we would probably try to work with each case individually depending on the circumstances.
24. How are your kittens registered?
Our kittens are registered with TICA and the customer receives the registration to fill out when they pick the kitten up. Or we mail it to them, if the kitten is being shipped.
25. What vaccination brand do you use? And what vaccinations are given, when?
We have all our vaccinations done at the Kansas State Veterinary Teaching hospital. I honestly don’t know the brand they use, though I could easily find out if one of our customers was interested. We take them for their first appointment at 8 to 9 weeks of age and their second appointment at 12 weeks of age. At the first appointment they get their first FVRCP vaccination, at the second they get the FVRCP booster and rabies vaccination. The third FVRCP vaccination is done at their new home, unless the kitten stays with us a little longer, which occasionally happens.
26. What are the kittens fed?
We use Royal Canin baby kitten and kitten food. We settled on Royal Canin after trying many different brands and types of food. Out of everything we have tried, our cats seem the healthiest and happiest eating Royal Canin. We can also highly recommend Science Diet, and currently use their wet food as a treat for our breeders and kittens.