Tuesday 10 March 2009

What Price a Bengal Cat?

What Price a Bengal Cat? I am talking about the price emotionally and financially. And I am talking about show cats and cat breeders and the whole darn thing. Cat breeders have a difficult time and a great time. But when we take a hobby (a love of cats and keeping cats) and turn it into a business, do we ruin the hobby? Does money always get in the way of what is fine and beautiful?

Take a fabulous Bengal cat called Thriller. Here he is, this star of a boy cat stud:

Bengal cat Thriller
  • THRILLER -- Outstanding Sire, International Winner, Regional Winner, Supreme Grand Champion Bengal Cat --- OS IW RW SGC

You can see more of the Bengal cat breed on this page, lots more, and some more individual cats too: Bengal Cats For Sale.

Back to Thriller (an apt name). You can read about his stream of show awards if you click on the link above or his picture. Here is the dilemma. The breeder is retiring as I understand it. What does a cat breeder do when they retire. I guess they can't keep all their cats, can they? It is just not practical. Maybe they are moving, downsizing etc. Some breeders have quite complicated set ups as far as I can see, with outside pens and oodles of space. And the cost of keeping cats that were once breeding cats for the breeder is probably prohibitive. That means selling Thriller, a stud boy who has served his time well, very well as he has sired many a beautiful Bengal cat, which have been valuable in their own right and become breeding stud boys themselves, I expect. In short Thriller has thrilled his "owner" cat breeder and made a decent amount of money for him or her.

So, on the one hand is the need to be practical and think money; to sell Thriller for a tidy sum as a pet (altered). In other words Thriller retires as well and waves goodbye to his cat breeder. Or he is sold as a breeding cat if he is still up to it. On the other hand the cat breeder feels a sufficient debt of gratitude to Thriller (and any other cat that has served their time well and made money for the breeder) to be unable to sell him and so keeps him and cares for him in retirement. Here we have that terrible dilemma with cat breeding, it seems to me. We are mixing money, profit and finance with emotion and lives; the lives of cats one has become attached too and what does one do to reconcile the two?

It depends (bottom line) on the bottom line; how much we need the money. If the money is not a major issue (i.e. the money gained in selling Thriller) then in my opinion we pay back that gratitude by keeping him and loving him in retirement. After all he is used to the place and he has bonded with his cat breeder. It seems unfair to dispense of him and force him to readjust in a new home and most of all it seems unfair to put a price on him at this stage of his life.

What price a Bengal cat who has been so good for the "owner" and breeder? No price and not the price of feeling that one has done wrong in selling him to the highest bidder.

Update: The concept of collective responsibility is a factor here. Should all Bengal cat breeders become involved with Thriller? After all, the important stud cats that have fathered many important kittens that go on to become fathers themselves affect the breed as a whole and Bengal cat breeders generally. Should he be dealt with in retirement on a collective basis? Might there be a retirement home for top breeders, for instance? I feel strongly that there is not enough working and pulling together in the cat breeding business and that this hurts the business. See Collective Responsibility of Cat Breeders.

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