Cats are not like dogs
Why a Responsible Breeder would NEVER let their Cats have free run of the house.
Cats are NOT like dogs, they are not normally a large group, pack or colony animal. Dogs can be raised in healthy large group situations, or in kennels, housed together without stressing each other out. Cats, are different.
Though Cats are very social creatures by nature and thrive better by having a fellow feline or two as playmates, cats that are forced to live in large group settings in a small place can manifest stress and illness.
Both Breeders and Pet owners alike should educate themselves on the amount of space that cats need to live, in order to be their healthiest and promote a longer life. Cats need their own divided space, or an area they don't have to share all the time. Living in a large group, with several cats wandering around the same house, causes high stress levels for them and can often develop behavioral problems, such a marking territories, become more aggressive in behaviors towards other animals and their humans, or they have an increase in health problems and disease. Often-times cats in this type of living arrangement are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms in the less stressed cats. Upper respiratory infections are the greatest indicators of stress and especially in an overly populated housing.
This is why it is also important to have set up kittens with their own room (safe space) when they go to their new pet homes. It is not uncommon for kittens to feel stressed out with all the changes and to have runny eyes or a possible upper respiratory infection for the first few weeks in a new home. This often passes within the first few days or weeks as they adapt to their new room/territory. Once passed this period of introduction, their stress levels are much lower and their curiosity gains strength for adventures in their new home in its entirety.
People interested in becoming a responsible breeder should know how to properly care for their cats. A good place to start is Books like “Feline Husbandry, Diseases and Management in the Multi-Cat Environment” “Feline Husbandry, Diseases and Management in the Multi-Cat Environment” or even reading the information below, which was found on the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) Website in addition to other great resources.
Good feline husbandry in healthy cattery housing, will have only 1-3 cats into a living quarter area. Plus there should be a free play space that cats can rotate into in their own group numbers, with lots of toys and climbing furniture. In addition the cattery should have separate and well cleaned grooming and maintenance areas, as well as a totally separated quarantine area with a separate air ventilation system. Areas should be divided either by full walls or by putting space or solid cleanable dividers between them, for cleanliness and disease control.
Allowing all breeding cats to run loose in a home is not good breeder practice. As there is no way to have any control over parenting population or pedigree accurateness. Nor is it a way to keep disease out or a healthy thriving environment for the cats living there. Cats do not want to have to compete with each other. In the wild, a Lion Pride consists of about two or three males and five to ten females, along with their young. This is with a 100 square mile are of land they patrol and defend. That's only one Lion for every 7.5 - 8 square mile radius. Domestic cats are much like their wild cat cousins in that they are happiest and healthiest in smaller number of population in their own self claimed areas.
The type of space is also important, and there is not one best type. Healthy and well maintained Catteries around the world house their cats in the basement, the upstairs bedroom, the sun-porch, and out in the garage. This area should be given up entirely to the cats, with the above divided rooms being of paramount importance. The cattery must be able to be closed off from the rest of the house. This provides climate control, sanitation, privacy, security, and breeding control, for the sake of both the cats and the family. Proper sunlight is of great importance in not only the health of the cats, but also, is what allows them to go into regular heat cycles for breeding. A screened sunporch that is heated in winter is the most ideal. It offers sunlight, fresh air, security, and easy access. Spare bedrooms, the basement, or a fully finished, insulated and heated garage with good lighting can also be used, if moisture is not a problem. Full spectrum lighting that produces at least 1.1% UVB, heat, and ventilation can be added or adapted; but moisture cannot be easily fix for a wholesome environment. If an apartment space is large enough, make sure the number of cats is kept to a minimum and face kennels away from the living area, cover the backs with solid material to create a false wall.
When Breeders are litter box training kittens, and vaccinating, the litters and queens need their own space for this time. Having different age litters in the same ventilation and sharing litterboxes keeps viruses alive and passing from cat to cat. Most vaccines are modified live and younger kittens that are not of the right age for vaccinating should not be exposed to those who are being vaccinated and building their immune systems.
Some resources suggest you visit the cattery you are adopting from. This is not necessarily the best advice. Breeders who raise their cats according to the recommendations from registries and other good breeding practice guidelines, also want to protect their cats from unnecessary germs and bacteria, not to mention safety concerns. Therefore, don’t be surprised when breeders don’t want you visiting their home. Instead, get references from previous adoption homes, call the breeder and speak with them personally, and plan to do this a few months ahead of adoption. Usually good breeders have plenty of return homes waiting for their next litter to be born. So to get in with a responsible and proper breeder, can take months. So be prepared to wait.
In conclusion, when choosing a good place to adopt from, you should discuss how a breeder keeps their cats. You should be looking for a breeder who has adequate space, separates their breeding cats with their own areas/territories, spends time with their cats daily in their own group area, has proper ventilation, with fresh air flow for all cats, a separate room for different age litters and queens, a separate room for isolation cages for new and sick cats, and an area for the record keeping and paperwork that a cattery demands. If owning a cattery seems like a lot of hard work, complex and expensive commitment, it is.