At least a few times a times a week I get the remark "Oh I wish I could afford to stay home, do nothing and play with kitties all day, what a life that must be!"
I am always utterly amused when people think I do nothing all day but sitting on my ass playing with kitties. I wish!
First and foremost, I own a business. Just because it happens to be a home based business, doesn't mean I don't work and "do nothing". I usually work more than 8 hours a day until way into the evening and often up until bed time and my family can attest to that.
So let me tell you about the "glam" life of a cat breeder that some people think I have. First of all, being a cat breeder is much, much more than just putting two cats together, let them have babies and raise them.
When you have a breeding program and you do this for all the right reasons, you spend a lot of time talking and networking with other breeders. You spend Lord knows how much time on researching pedigrees, bloodlines, diseases and how they affect your breed and what the lines are to use and avoid. You're becoming half a vet by the time you do this for a few years and spend countless hours reading up on all sorts of research. All of this takes time and effort. It's really glam squad 101 reading up on all the causes of kitten diarrhea.
Then you show on a lot of weekends, spend the entire weekend away from your family and spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on entry fees, hotels, travel and food, just to have acknowledged that your cats meet the written standard for the breed.
Then there's this little thing of selling kitten. This means you need to maintain a website and a social media presence. You need to advertise, attract customers and most time consuming of all, take good pictures of your cats and kittens because without good pictures you are nowhere. You have to answer emails all day long, and answer the same questions over and over (that are all by the way clearly answered on the website) and even though most of our kitten buyers are nothing but absolutely wonderful, you also deal with people that are super demanding, very inflexible and sometimes even flat out mean, which can emotionally drain you if it happens often enough.
So if all of this is not glamorous enough for you, let's get down to the nitty gritty of caring for kittens. So you think I sit on my butt all day and play with kittens?
Reality check: In the mornings everyone needs food. Then all the litter boxes need to be cleaned (seriously, scooping poop is the glam life y'all!) and kitten bums need to be wiped because we all know Siberians and other longhair breeds often have a case of the dangle berries. Then after scooping all the boxes (which is about 12-14 at my house at any given day) you get to sweep, vacuum dust and mop floors. If you have sick kittens, you need to medicate them and clean extra hard if they are in quarantine. Then you get to clean all the water bowls and fill them with fresh water and fill up all the food bins and by the time you're done with all that, it's lunch time and there is other work to be done. When you have a cattery and a job, you pretty much have 2 full time jobs, and many of us have the job of being a spouse and parenthood as well, which is makes all of this 3 or 4 full time jobs. I am lucky if I get an hour a day to play with kittens.
You spend days and sometimes whole nights sitting with mommies in labor. You sometimes have to help them deliver and guess what, sometimes you end up at the vet in the middle of the night for an emergency C section. (It's in the middle of the night so I guess that adds to the glam factor!) You deal with stillborn kitten and kittens who are born alive and get crushed because a first time mom lays on them. You deal with health issues and cats that need to be removed from your breeding program because their kittens have heart issues. You have to remove cats from your program because they don't meet your expectations even after having spent thousands upon thousands getting them into your program. You deal with other breeders that you have to contact to tell them there are problems with the lines and they have a kitten or cat from you. You get calls from heart broken kitten buyers who tell you their kitten they got from you died or you deal with upset kitten buyers that got a kitten from another breeder that died who turned out to be less than reputable. It has all happened to me and to most breeders I know.
You will get your heart broken more times then you can count, but the smiles on the faces of the families who come pick up their new furry family member is priceless and so worth it. The feeling that you get when your cat or kitten is the best in their breed in the world and an international winner is a wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishment. The thought that you're putting a mark on your breed and are actually contributing to maintaining and improving a magnificent breed that you love is amazing.
But glamorous? No...far from it.