What does a health guarantee from a breeder mean?

Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
edited 5 February, 2012 in Choosing the Right Cat
I am looking to purchasing a purebred Maine Coon kitten in the near future. The kittens come with a "health guarantee" - anyone know what the heck that means?? Thanks for helping!

Comments

  • Valerie DurhamValerie Durham Member Posts: 8,724
    edited 25 January, 2012
    Very good question. The bottom line is that it probably means whatever the breeder wants it to mean. At the very least, a breeder must be willing to take back every cat they sell, for whatever reason. And that guarantee should last throughout the cat's life. As for health problems that may occur after you purchase a cat--a breeder cannot necessarily predict those. But a good breeder will have the breeding stock checked for genetic abnormalities, and they should be willing to share this information with you. If a breeder tries to impress you with the fact that their cats do not have FeLV or Feline AIDS--ha ha to that. Any cat born in a cattery to cattery bred cats should be guaranteed not to have these communicable diseases. If not, well, that is not a good breeder.
  • Leanne FroebelLeanne Froebel Member Posts: 1,730
    edited 26 January, 2012
    AS Harvey stated, health guarantees vary. In general, a breeder should guarantee the kitten is healthy when you receive him/her and may require the kitten be vet cheked by your vet within 3-5 business days of you getting the kitten (which you should do anyway). If your vet finds a problem, the breeder should be willing to take the kitten back and either refund you or exchange the kitten... or a breeder might be willing to refund you for the vet bills and let you keep the kitten if there is a problem. Some breeders do guarantee the kitten from genetic problems too, but usually only for a few years (1-3). Kittens should also have received their first vaccines and be FeLV and FIV negative. The breeder should also be willing to take back any cat they've bred at anytime if you can no longer keep the cat. The breeder should also require the cat be kept indoors only. As Harvey said, a health guarantee really means what a breeder wants it to. Ask for a copy of the breeder's sales contract. It should clearly define exactly what kind of health guarantee the breeder is offering. Not all breeders offer the same health guarantee. Not all breeders are reputable either. Buyer beware - Do your homework, talk to breeders, ask for a copy of their sales contract, and ask for references. As Harvey stated, cats are living animals and a cat cannot be guaranteed healthy forever. However the kitten should be healthy when you receive him/her and reputable breeders will be screening for known health issues in their breed. Dealing with a reputable breeder increases your odds of getting a healthy kitten and a happy adoption experience.
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 26 January, 2012
    Thee most very important thing you want to ask about, when looking at Maine Coon kittens, is if the parents have been tested for HCM. Ask the breeder if they have. Insist on looking at the papers, that say, they are negative. Do not ask ahead of time, gives them time to dummy up papers. Ask when you are there. Any Maine Coon breeder, that does not test for HCM, run, do not walk, away.
  • Tazara WeilhammerTazara Weilhammer TallahasseeMember Posts: 33
    edited 26 January, 2012
    Whats HCM?
  • janice lancasterjanice lancaster temple gaMember Posts: 2,505
    edited 26 January, 2012
    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease that causes heart muscle to enlarge and thicken and is the most common heart disease in cats. It takes time to develop, and there may be very few or no early signs. A cat may appear to become very ill or even die very quickly, but it's usually when they are two or three years old and the disease has been getting worse progressively. There are DNA tests for it for Ragdolls and Maine Coons which are the most likely to have it, but not for other breeds as yet.
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 26 January, 2012
    As Pandora said, its hypertropic cardiomyopathy. HCM is a genetic defect, that Maine Coons and Ragdolls are prone to, as are Persians, and some other breeds. They at this point in time, don't know what causes it. It means the heart is enlarged, the left ventrical does not open and close properly, as your front door would, but rather, it swings, like a saloon door. It lets in too much blood, or not enough. It is most discovered as a heart murmur, during a vet visit. The vet estimates the grade, which is 1-6, with 1 being moderate and 6 being severe. They then do an x-ray, to see how enlarged the heart is, and/or if there is fluid around the heart or lungs. They also do a CBC and Wellness blood panel, to see if any values are not normal, too high or too low, and it gives the vet a baramator, to measure against, in the future, as the HCM may affect the values, and/or if they change, it may be an indication, the HCM has changed. Then they are sent to a cardiologist, for an ultrasound. That is the only way, to proper determine the grade, and thus, the treatment. Males are more prone to HCM, but females can get it too. It can strike only 1 kitten in the litter, or it can skip a generation. This is not a death sentence, but rather if falls under managed care. The kitty has to be put on a quality grain free food, that is low in salt, that one, is imperative. The kitty also needs to be kept flushed out. The household has to be stress free. The kitty now has a compromised immune system. Any change in health or personality, the kitty has to go right in, and be treated, its not something, you can wait and see, or try and treat yourself. Some meds given to a normal kitty, will kill a HCM kitty, Centrine is one, its an anti spazmodic, and will kill a heart kitty. How do I know all this? Bump was diagnosed at 10 months old. 2 Cardiologists said, he will not live past 1 yr old. Can you imagine, being told this?????? I said oh heckola no, find me another cardiologist, and I and my vet did extensive research on HCM. We talked to breeders, other vets, his cardiologist is at UC Davis, and we talked to Dr Mark Little at the Winn Foundation. I didn't know, at that time, what the heck HCM even was. I called the breeder. She said if you want to bring him back, I will refund your money, or give you another kitten, your choice. I said oh heck no, he is not going anywhere. She said when you get ready, I will give you another kitten, and she helped me with his vet bills. She was beyond helpful and supportive. But, I was determined, to find where this came from. I was "that" kitten buyer, breeders fear. Took me over a year to trace it back, it came from his grandmother, his parents were negative, as was his grandfather. This was amidst death threats, to him, to me. They all kept asking me, why are you doing this, he is neutered, your not going to breed him. I said, because I don't want any more Bump's born, and their mommys to have to go thru what I did. His grandmother came from a championship line. They never tested, I forced all his relatives to be tested. The positve ones, were spayed/neutered, and removed from the breeding program. Some catterys were even shut down. They came across, the wrong kitten buyer. There are still lawsuits going on. This, is exactly why, breeders need to test, for HCM. It means, at that point in time, they don't have it, but they can develope it, at a later time. The point in testing, is to remove the positive ones, from the breeding program. Any breeder who doesn't is insane. Look at what happened, because they didn't. By the time, the kitten is ready to go, they should have had their first set of shots, and have been wormed at 6 weeks. Ask to see the health records of the kittens, if they will not produce them, run. Unless you are a knowledgeable show person, breeders will require you to have the kitten spayed/neutered, by a certain age, you pay for the kitten when you pick him up, when you produce the s/n evidence, they send you the papers. Some let them go at 8 weeks, some at 12 weeks, some at 16 weeks, depends on the breeder. You also want to see the registration papers of the parents, and see the HCM papers of the parents and the grand parents. A reputable breeder, will gladly produce them. http://www.cfainc.org/client/cbrs.aspx http://www.cfainc.org/Client/home.aspx You will be asked to sign a contract, read it, and make sure you understand it, what your responsibilties are, what the breeders responsibilities are, each one is a little different. Ballpark how it works, if you return the kitten, you get your money back, or another kitten, your choice. If you keep the kitten, depending on what the issue is, the breeder decides. Most are very willing to work with you, depending on what the issue is. They have a reputation to maintain, especially, if they have show cats. I kept Bump, the breeder gave me 2 kittens, and helped with his vet bills. Thats not what his contract said, but she felt bad, about what happened, and went beyond out of her way, to make me happy. Rory, thats where Cowboy came from. :-h=;|:|
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 26 January, 2012
    Thank you for your responses, that is pretty much what I was thinking. I have not asked about HCM testing yet and the breeder has not mentioned that in her e-mail responses. If the kitten is from parents who are not tested, should I have him tested? And if there are positive genetic implications - what next?
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 26 January, 2012
    Linus, in reading your bio, we noted that you were shipped - I am looking at a kitten that may have to be shipped (economics) - any problems with shipping? Any thing I should be aware of?
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 27 January, 2012
    HCM can skip a generation, and it can only affect one kitten in the litter. Its not so much, testing the kitten, and I don't know how old the kitten has to be, its more like, if the parents aren't tested, then the grand parents haven't been tested, and your taking a huge huge chance. If the kitten should develope HCM, you are going to end up, with what I went thru, and am going thru. Its not a death sentence, it is very manageable, but its very specific management. Best of avoid it, and make sure the parents have been tested, as well as the grandparents. A responsible breeder, of any breed, would be able to tell you all about the parents and the grand parents, the whole line, and a responsible breeder, would test for HCM. Run, do not walk, away, from those that don't test. Just to be clear, not all Maine Coons or all Ragdolls are going to get HCM. It can skip a generation, it can affect only one kitten in the litter, males are more prone, but females can get it too. Bump was the only kitten in the litter, and it skipped his parents. When I called the breeder, she called all the other kitten buyers, not a one had it. Bump chose me, I guess, he chose wisely, he is not, from this planet, mol, mol, mol. :)):-h=;|:|
  • Valerie DurhamValerie Durham Member Posts: 8,724
    edited 28 January, 2012
    HCM is not a problem limited to Maine Coons, Ragdolls, and Persians. It is the number one cardio killer for all cats. Purebred cats get more health tests than do randomly bred cats. You do the math. Breeders test parents and grandparents. Information regarding HCM testing is available through Googling Cornell, the CFA, and the University of Washington. Regarding Maine Coons, there is some discrepancy regarding the accuracy of DNA testing. Should a breeder test? Of course. But is the evidence going to guarantee that your kitty will never get HCM? If anyone has data supporting that clinical data is a good indicator that a cat is not going to suffer from HCM, pleas let me know. I maintain that any breeder who feels proud that their cats do not have FeLV or FIV is sleazy. There is NO reason that a cattery bred cat should have either of these diseases. More to the point, and yes, I am repeating myself, any breeder who thinks that being FeLV/FIV negative is a plus is clueness. There is not reason that a cattery bred cat should have either disease.
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 28 January, 2012
    so if I am interpreting what has been said correctly, a kitten whose parents and grandparents have tested negative for all KNOWN HCM mutations should be absolutely free of the possibility of developing HCM? Purrcy did develop a very mild murmur in his last 2 years.(less than a grade 1 murmur) But I don't think it was related to genetics, but was probably more age related and due to his specific health issues and the stressors that his diseases put him through. My cat Bumpurr also had a murmur (he was a MC too), but his murmur also developed late in his life (around age 16). He lived to the age of 19 and was somewhat senile at the time of his death. His murmur, I think was more age related and even though he had an echocardiogram and was seen by a cardiologist, he was not placed on any meds or special diets. Maybe they thought that at his age it was not appropriate. This was over 15 years ago. In any event, I do thank you for your helpful responses and I have a better idea of what to ask and when to walk away from a potential problem. I know a lot of folks are wondering why I am not thinking about a rescue cat and my response is this: Purrcy was a very sick cat for over 2 years. I spent literally thousands of dollars (around $18,000) to save his life and to try to make him as comfortable as I could for those 2 years. I loved him and still love him in memory with all my heart. His death devastated me and I am still trying to recover my equilibrium from his death. My credit card is recovering at a slow and steady pace. I am fortunate that I have a job that pays me fairly well. I have worked at the same place for over 25 years. I have a steady income. I have 3 cats right now, and even though I love each and everyone of them, 2 are Bengals that I got for my son and Grizzly is my SO's cat - I need MY own SPECIAL cat. I could not bear to find a cat from a shelter and find out that that cat has an incurable disease. I just can't deal with that right now. So by buying a kitten from a breeder, I feel like I have a better chance of finding a kitten who is healthy and will be healthy for some time to come (fingers crossed). I know there are no guarantees in life and you kind of take whatever the heck is thrown at you, but I'm going to take the more risk free road right now, because I need to.
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 28 January, 2012
    You don't need to justify, to anybody, why, you want a Maine Coon, thats your personal decision. =; When a cat is tested for HCM, it just means, that at that point in time, they do not have it. They could potentialy, develope it later, but it also does not mean they will. Any cat, registered breed cat, or not, can get HCM. There on some on here, who have kitties, that are not registered breed cats, that have it. The point of testing for HCM, is to remove the cats, from the breeding program, that test positive. Keeping a positive cat, in the breeding program, increases the risk, a kitten down the line will get it. HCM can skip a generation, or it cannot, its just that it possible. Males are more prone to HCM, but females can get it too. It can also only affect one kitten in the litter, and the rest are fine. Maine Coons, Ragdolls and Persians are prone to HCM, other breeds can get it too. Its a genetic defect. They don't know, where it comes from, and they have only identified, like a small handfull of genes. The reason you want to make sure, the parents, and the grandparents have been tested, is one, if you only test the parents, the grandparents could potentialy have it, it might have skipped the parents. If the grandparents test negative too, you have a better likelehood, of not getting a kitten with HCM, but it is also not a guareantee, they won't. You are just lessening your odds. Bump was the only kitten, in his litter that had it. His parents were negative. It was traced back to his grandmother. The breeder spayed/neutered his parents. She wasn't going to take the chance, of another kitten like Bump. His grandmother also got spayed. His breeder did not own, his grandparents. My kittens came from the same breeder, but totally different line, and I made sure, all the relatives, like going back to the caveman days, mol, were negative. They have been fine. Ya, to some, this is being way too pickey, but, when you are told, that your 10 month old kitten, has HCM and will not live past 1 yr old, thats it, thats all there is, then come talk to me. And, there are still lawsuits going on, and catterys shut down. You tell me, was it really worth it, not to test? In getting any kitten, registered breed cat from championship parents, or rescue kitten, there are no guarantees, the kitten will not get sick, or develpe a medical issue. Its how you take care of them, its how you feed them, what kind of vet you have, then the rest, is up to the man upstairs. :-h=;|:|
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 28 January, 2012
    Here is a link for MCBFA. http://www.mcbfa.org/
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 28 January, 2012
    thanks for link. Grafton is not very far from here. I can easily get there!
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 28 January, 2012
    what I meant basically by getting a healthy kitten was one that does not have FIV or FeLV, and one that comes from a family that has been HCM tested. I certainly am more than aware that health issues can develop at any time and I am prepared to care for any cat that happens to become part of my family. I know there is a kitten or will be a kitten out there who is going to be my next heart cat. I can take my time and find the right one.
  • Carolyn KinslerCarolyn Kinsler Member Posts: 405
    edited 5 February, 2012
    Is it important for a Maine Coon breeder to have the parents's hips certified with the OFA (or Penn Hip).
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