Floppycats.com had an Interview with Melissa Keefer of Pretty Kitty Ragdolls (PRITYKITYRAG). Melissa Keefer is the owner and operator of Pretty Kitty Ragdolls in Vestal, NY. Her phone is (607) 724-5189. Her website is www.prettykittyragdolls.com.
How long have you been breeding Ragdolls?
I started my program at the end of last year, so I’m coming up on about a year. My cattery is registered with CFA & TICA as PRITYKITYRAG. All my breeders are TICA registered and I’m working on getting them all CFA registered.
How did you pick Ragdolls to breed?
I choose breeder Ragdolls based on health, pedigree and howly closely they meet the CFA & TICA standard. I only work with Ragdoll breeders who are friendly and supportive. DNA testing has become an important aspect of my breeding program. All my breeding cats have been tested through CatGenes in TX which tests for blood type, HCM, PKD, MSPM & MSP1, among other genetic traits. Above all else, I don’t want to cause anyone the heart ache of loosing a beloved companion in an untimely manner.
Do you show? Why or why not?
I love to show and am currently showing in CFA. I’m also working on becoming a Certified Clerk. Showing provides the opportunity to understand more completely what the standard means. Standards are not arbitrary. There’s a reason for every feature of a particular breed of cat. Some breeders ignore the standards and over time, those features that make the breed “special” and unique are lost. For example, a judge commented on the Birmans and how he sees a trend in the lack of the “Roman” nose. He stated, “After all, a Birman without a bump, is a Ragdoll!” It’s important to understand the standard, and breed to it so that the uniqueness of the breed is preserved.
What congenital defects are in Ragdolls?
This question speaks to the importance of genetic testing and how to apply what we know. Ragdolls, like other pedigrees, can have several genetic defects, such as PKD (a kidney disease), HCM (a heart disease) and MSPM & MSP1 (lysomal storage disease). -/- is negative and +/+ is obviously positive. A positive cat is likely to manifest and succomb to the disease. The trickier outcome is -/+, which constitutes a carrier. A breeder must balance the consideration of producing a +/+ cat against reducing the gene pool – the end result, some tough choices.
How are you breeding to avoid those defects?
DNA testing through CatGenes, the most comprehensive DNA testing available at this time.
How large is your breeding operation?
I work full time as a pharmaceutical sales representative and consider myself a “serious” hobby breeder. I currently have two fabulous studs, who I’m looking forward to a long careers as breeders. Chance, my two year old seal mitted male with a double diamond blaze is amazing. He doesn’t spray and is so, so sweet! He comes from a very old line of Ragdolls from Hemlock Trails. Sampson, a beautiful and loving blue point, is my other boy. He is 7 months old and loves to show!! I’m going to delay breeding him until he Grands in CFA. I currently, have 3 breeding females and am working on increasing the number to 6. How large a program is a personal decision. I prefer to only keep only as many Ragdolls as I can cuddle and love every day! I don’t see me getting any bigger. I’m not sure my Queen size bed, with me in it, could handle any more than 8 or 9 cats!
Where do your cats spend most of their time?
As you probably could tell from my last comment, the cats and I live in my home. Chance doesn’t spray so he is allowed run of the house, unless any of the girls are in heat and I don’t want them to breed. Then I have to make a choice about who to restrict. Sampson, my other male, is not breeding yet and so far, has not sprayed.
Do you breed full time? In other words, do you have another job?
Already answered, but wanted to add another comment. There are many right ways to do something, and I have a lot of admiration for full time breeders. A tremendous amount of energy, time and money goes into breeding pedigree cats. Not to mention the worry!
What sort of health guarantees do you offer?
A 2 year guarantee. I stand behind my Ragdolls. All adopted kittens will have current vaccines, be dewormed and vet checked. All of the kittens will be -/- for the genetic diseases as discussed above, because all of my breeders are -/-. If a kitten has been declawed, and the owner no longer wants it, I will not replace the kitten, but I would want the kitten back to find a better home for it. You can do everything right, and still have something go wrong. If, god forbid, a kitten died through no fault of the owners, I would replace that kitten.
What happens if the kitten gets sick?
I would do everything in my power to help the new owners help the kitten to get well.
Do you have any fun adoption stories to share?
What makes this kitten or cat “pet quality” or “show quality”?
A show quality kitten can be a pet, but a pet cannot be show quality. This takes us back to the standards. The best sources for information about the Ragdoll Standard are the CFA , TICA and Ragdoll club sites.
Do you keep some of your cats for your own?
I haven’t yet, but certainly would.
How old is your oldest cat?
I’ve had pet kitties all my life. Tabby died when she was about 20 and Kitty when he was 19. I’ve only recently fallen in love with the Ragdoll. My oldest Rag is Chance – he is 2.
What is your favorite Ragdoll look?
Hard question, because what I love most is the lovely laid back and friendly personality of the Ragdoll. I have the ability to produce chocolate, seal & blue – color point, bi-color and mitted Ragdolls. I will be adding lynx to my program late this year or early next!
Do you raise your cats underfoot?
Do you send photos of the parents before you adopt a kitten?
I always want to see the parents before I adopt a kitten
Or do you post the parents on the website?
All my breeding cats are on my site.
Do you send the kitten’s pedigree when you adopt a kitten?
Yes, I can do up to a 4 generation pedigree.
Will it be a problem if one requests, and wants to pay for, the CatGenes DNA testing before one accepts a kitten?
Not a problem. All of my breeding cats have been tested through Cat Genes and the results are posted on my site. I will happily produce a copy of the results as well.
Can people interested in purchasing one of your cats visit your cattery?
Yes, with an appointment.
If a possible adoptee cannot visit your cattery, are you willing to talk to your adoptee on the phone?
How do you honor your health guarantee? There is no legal binding issue there, so that’s why I’m asking.
I know that my kittens will be genetically sound for the diseases tested by Cat Genes. Even so, things can go wrong. If a kitten dies within two years from puchase, through no fault of the owners, I will replace the kitten. The health guarantee is void if the cat is de-clawed. I will however take the any of my cat’s back to re-home. Every situation is different, but I would do my best to work with the owners. Vet bills are the responsibility of the owner.
What if a kitten gets adopted and the customer is unhappy with a kitten, what do you do?
It depends on the situation. For example, a breeder sold a kitten to a family with two little girls. The little girls where not trained to treat the cat properly and constantly chased it. The kitten became very timid and frightened. I would gladly take the cat back in this situation, but would not replace it. Another example: even though a breeder clearly stated her “no de-claw” policy, the owner had the cat de-clawed anyway. The cat’s personality changed and the owner was not happy. Again, I would take the cat back to re-home, but would not replace the cat. If the owners simply were not happy with the cat – I can’t imagine it with a Ragdoll! I would try to work with them to come to a mutually satisfying arrangement.
How are your kittens registered?
The litters from Chance, Sampson and Mira can be either TICA or CFA registered. Kera & Izzy’s kittens will be only TICA registered.
Are you capable of including the kittens maturing pattern since birth?
Yes, this is why it’s important to have a postal scale.
What vaccination brand do you use? And what vaccinations are given, when?
I use a modified live virus vaccine – Protex-3 (made by Intervet, a division of Shering-Plough) It’s given at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks. Adjuvanted vaccines have been linked to injection site carcinoma. This vaccine is non-adjuvanted. In NY a rabies vaccine is mandatory, given after 12 weeks.
What are the kittens fed?
Friskies canned food, pate at first, then shreds or Friskies Select for indoor cats – several times a day from 3 – 12 weeks old. Fed twice a day after that. Dry food is always available: Nutro Complete Care Indoor Food for Kittens.
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