I started breeding cats when I was 18 years old. In 1982, I lived in Soho and my building had rats. I got two cats to handle the problem, Bernice Johnson and Rhoda Gotleib. My neighbors needed ratters so I bred my two girls and populated my building with their children. In short, I have been doing this a long time. The longer you do something, the more clarity you get. I have learned a lot about breeding cats and about handing cat babies over to people. You should know more about me in order to decide if this is the right cattery for you.
I am long-winded, to put it mildly. My editor at the magazine I worked at used to say I was verbose on a slow day. Respecting people's time, I am providing the things you need to know in two formats. The single line format, and the extended version of the same. First, the single liners.
1. I do this because I want to make sure Burmese cats stay around for a long time. They are dying off due to inbreeding and I am doing something to change this trajectory.
2. I breed for personality and health. I do not breed for cat shows.
3. My cats do not look like contemporary American or European Burmese. Look at their pictures to see if you like the way they look.
4. I take putting kittens into a home seriously. I suspect the way you treat me is an indicator as to how you will treat my kitten.
5. The kittens are sold before they are born. You will have to put down a deposit and go on my wait list to get a kitten.
6. Kittens cost $1800.
7. Health Guarantee: You have seven (7) days to take the kitten and have it inspected by a vet. If there is anything wrong with the kitten, I will refund your money. Post covid, for reasons I do not understand, vets are jammed. If you can't get an appointment within a week, just let me know.
8. Credentials: I am a scientist. My science education, medical diploma and PhD in medical research, were used to set up this breeding program and are used continuously to keep it going.
9. You can pick your kitten up, or we can have it delivered to you. We do not ship cargo on airplanes.
10. I work with nature. Nature is hard to control. I try to give the best estimates I can, in terms of pick up dates and coat color, but, in the end, nature has the final word.
The Long Version of 1-10
1. WHY AM I DOING THIS?
I started this project because the worlds leading cat expert said the Burmese cat was on the road to extinction. That inbreeding had reached a dangerous level and needed to be addressed urgently. This is not a theory. Today, most of my kitten requests come from people who have lost their Burmese or Tonkinese before the age of 10 due to inbreeding related disease and after spending tens of thousands of dollars in vet bills before their cat died. Some die as young as 2.
My love affair with these cats started in 1982 and I want to make sure they continued to exist as long as I am alive. With my background in medicine and research, I felt I could do something about the problem. Primary goal, do something to rescue the Burmese breed from impending inbreeding-caused extinction so that other people and I can experience the joy of being owned by a Burmese cat.
The other reason I do this project is this: The Burmese cat is a natural breed of cat. That means it came into existence all on its own, probably due to evolutionary pressures. Man did not make it. Nature made it. Burmese cats have existed in Thailand for thousands of years. Sadly, in less than 100 years, American Burmese breeders have run the breed into the ground. They are healthy cats in Thailand. In America, they now drop dead at age 2 due to heart attacks. Obviously, we American breeders did something wrong. We were handed a healthy breed and within less than 100 years we turned it into a very unhealthy breed.
Thus, the second part of my goal: Learn how to breed a natural breed of cat, and keep that type of cat healthy, outside its natural home. This involved going to Thailand to see how they breed them there, a lot of genetic testing, and mind-numbing science. My hope is that if I can work out how to breed this natural breed of cat and keep it healthy, this learning can be applied to the other natural
breeds of cats. My kitten sales allow me to do this crucial research.
In short, I do this because I want to make sure the breed survives long into the future in America, Europe and Thailand.
2. I BREED FOR HEALTH AND PERSONALITY
The main reason I got involved with this project was because the unique and marvelous personality of the Burmese breed. They are pushy, interesting, weird and endearing in a way no other cat is. Their personalities fascinate me. What is the point of having a cat with a fab personality that is sick all the time and going to die at age two?
Breeding is about selection. All breeders select for something. I select breeding cats because they have fantastic personalities and are super healthy. Honestly, working with imported and domestic cats, hitting those two targets keeps me plenty busy. If you get a kitten from me, you can rest assured I have done everything in my power to create a healthy kitten with a great personality.
3. My Cats Do Not Look Like Most American or European Burmese
I had a blue Burmese named Bruce Lee. He was the best cat ever. When he died, I was desperate to replace him with another blue. There was no blue kitten available and I ended up with a little platinum boy, Bruce Lee II. Within minutes, his coat color became immaterial. He rode home on my lap, a seven hour ride, and was just happy to be there. What I discovered was that it was the personality and the companionship that I missed when Bruce Lee I faded into the night. So, the kitten you get from me may not look like the cat you had before, but, it will fill the void left by that cat. (If this is your first Burmese, disregard that statement.)
I am telling you this for a reason. To fix the genetic problems with the American Burmese breed, I had to import cats from Thailand. And, although the personality was the same, the colors and the look was all over the place. In America, we are accustomed to four flavors in Burmese: Sable, Blue, Champagne, and Platinum. Well, when I introduced the Thai cats, I got those colors and a whole bunch more! When you get a kitten from me, it may not look like the Burmese cats you see at a cat show and or the Burmese cat you just lost. But he or she will provide the deluxe pet services you expect from a Burmese cat.
One thing I have learned is cats do not naturally practice incest. That means they avoid mating with relatives. I suspect the reason American Burmese and Tonkinese have tanked in the health department is because incestuous mating is common practice. This does not happen in Thailand, and to avoid ever mating relatives, I continue to import Burmese, Tonkinese and Siamese cats from Thailand. As a result, my cats will continue to be diverse in their look and in their colors.
I had a woman purchase a kitten and later complained "her friends" said it did not look like a Burmese. So let me just be real clear on this point. American Burmese cats are so inbred they all look alike. My Burmese cats are so genetically diverse, no two siblings look alike. If you are the sort that cares what "your friends" think about your cat's looks ... actually, I won't even finish that thought. You can finish it for yourself.
Just remember this. I breed for health and personality, and to do this, genetic diversity is required. My cats are not like cookie cutter American Burmese. They have diverse looks. I am not disturbed by this. My goal is to make healthy Burmese cats with fantastic personalities, and they look however they look. Take a look at the pictures of my cats and decide for yourself if you would be happy with a cat like that.
4. I TAKE HOMING KITTENS VERY SERIOUSLY
To improve the health of the Burmese and Tonkinese breeds, I have to create cats. Some I keep for my breeding program, others I send to other breeders, and some I place in homes.
I take putting non-breeding kittens into homes very seriously. I let them come into the world, and I have to make sure they end up with a good life. This will make me sound a little Kumbaya, but each of these kittens is a special little creature and I need to make sure they a go to a good home. So, I am picky. I do ask questions. I listen. If I like what I hear, great. If I don't like what I hear, you are not getting a cat from me, because I do not want the bad karma associated with knowingly putting a cat into a bad home.
And here is a hint. I am listening. I do hear what people say. I know listening is not very popular at the moment, but I am fully engaged in the listening process. When people contact me looking for a deal, I wonder, can they afford food and vet visits? When people contact me and are rude, I wonder, will they be rude to my kitten?
I am not a prima donna. Far from it. I just expect people to treat me with respect and behave in a polite manner.
Here are some key points to bear in mind.
Kitten requests. People send kitten requests with no punctuation or sentence structure. "Got kittens how much", "Any kittens available when? ", Hey, if you don't have time to punctuate, you don't have time to have a pet. If you don't have time to write a complete sentence, you probably should stick to goldfish.
Plans for the cat in the event you meet your maker. I design cats to live long healthy lives. Cat that should live to be 20 years of age or older. When you bring home a kitten, you are committing to caring for that kitten for the next 20 years. While no one expects to die, buses run people over, Covid takes people out, etc. Things happen. I expect all kitten buyers to have a plan for their kitten, should they become unable to care for the cat. Think this through because I will ask.
Declawing: I think any person who would declaw a cat should have his or her finger nails pulled out first and any vet that is willing to do the procedure, should have his or her finger nails pulled out. Declawing is vile. It is a cat. It has nails. You have to trim the nails. If you do to have time to trim your cats nails, you don't have time to have a cat. Again, get a goldfish.
The Amazon issue. I think a lot of consumers have had their brains warped by Amazon. They think they can get whatever they want, overnight and that shipping is "free". Breaking news. There is no such thing as free shipping. Someone pays for the shipping. It takes a long time to make a kitten, they get colds which puts off pick ups, and a whole lot of other unforeseen circumstances can and do occur when you are dealing with living creatures. We do our best to get you a kitten in a timely manner, but, again, this is not Amazon. This is a person doing his best to manage nature and managing nature is challenging.
I live in reality and I know people are not adopting a child, but, I am still responsible for making sure the kitten ends up with a good life. How people treat me is a sensitive indicator as to how they will treat my kitten. All that said, I am a super reasonable person with an excellent sense of humor. If you are reasonable with me, I will be reasonable with you.
5. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE PUT DOWN A DEPOSIT AND THEN WAIT FOR A KITTEN.
My kitten requests far exceed the number of babies born here. I just have a limited number of kittens I can make available. For this reason, you are going to have to wait to get a kitten. I have not had immediately available kittens in 15 years. I know when you loose a Burmese, you want to fill that space back up as fast as you can and I do everything I can to make that happen as fast as I can. But, you will have to wait.
I operate on a deposit/wait list system. You put a deposit down ($200) and that gets you on my wait list. It's first come, first serve. When your number comes up, you get the next available kitten.
I require a deposit because for me to take time to stay in touch, keep you in mind, and hold a kitten for you, I need to know you are committed. A deposit weeds out the people who are just window shopping or shopping around. When people put a deposit down, I take them seriously, and begin working to get them a kitten. To get on the waiting list:
Sending a $200 check to:
Dr Douglas Schar, P.O. Box 160, Great Falls, VA 22066
Zelle the $200 to:
The deposit is non-refundable. And here is why. A lot of people were putting deposits down with a collection of breeders, including myself, just waiting to see who could get them a kitten quicker. Then they would call and say, sorry, I no longer "want" a kitten, can I have my deposit back? I was taking these kitten buyers seriously and I was being played. It takes time for me to communicate with people, keep them posted as to where they are on the list, answer their emails, etc. I only want people on my wait list who have the intention of picking up a kitten.
So, once you are on my waiting list, I will let you know when your name is reaching the top of the list, and when you can anticipate the arrival of your personal stalker ... I mean loving Burmese side kick. I will let you know what I have in terms of sex, color, and personality, and you can chose from that offering. Or, pass, retain your top spot on the wait list, and wait for the next litter.
Lastly, I retain the right to return your deposit. In reality, this happens very rarely. Very, very rarely. But it does happen. And here is why it happens. Sometimes, in the process of trying to get someone a kitten, they become nasty and aggressive. Let us just say I believe the words of Maya Angelou, "When people tell you who they are, believe them". When it becomes I have a problem person on my hands, I will return their deposit check. There was a time when I would let them know why. "Hey you treated my assistant rudely and that is not acceptable." That only opened the flood gates of unpleasantry from an unpleasant person. Now, I just send the deposit back with no explanation. But trust me when I say, you have to be a real nasty piece of work to get your deposit returned.
The kittens cost $1800. I know it's a lot of money for a cat, but, that is what they cost. The price just recently went up because the cat food expenses were killing me. Well, actually, every expense associated with this cattery has been on a steep rise for the last two years. Heating costs, cleaning costs, medicine costs, you name it, has gone up. I subsidize this little research project of mine, but, the amount of subsidy required crossed over into unmanageable. So, sadly, my prices had to go up. And, if costs keep going up, the price of kittens may go up again.
And, to answer your question before you ask, you will not get a discount if you buy two kittens. No one, and I mean no one gives me a discount on cat food, cat litter, heating bills or anything else associated with breeding cats. When I start getting discounts for bulk buying, I will start offering two for one deals.
7. The Health Guarantee
I do every thing in my power to create healthy cats, and that has included importing cats from Thailand, only breeding unrelated cats, tons of genetic tests, good food, healthy home environment, and more. I do everything I can to make a healthy kitten. I have done everything I can to make sure the kitten will not develop a genetic defect down the road. I have done everything I can to send you home with a kitten that is healthy the moment you take it home and will stay that way. There is nothing more I can do to make healthy kittens than I am already doing.
When you buy a cat from me, you must take it to a vet to be inspected within seven days of the purchase. If the vet determines there is something wrong with the kitten, you can bring it back to me and receive a full refund. No questions asked.
After that, I cannot assume responsibility for the health of the cat. I have lost chain of custody of the cat and no longer control what happens to the cat and how it affects their health. Vaccines, by the way, although necessary, are not harmless. I have not had a kitten die from vaccination, but there have been some close calls. It happens with people and it happens with cats. I tell people to keep their cats inside and away from other cats, because other cats carry diseases that the cat can pick up. If you babysit your daughter's cat for the weekend, guess what? Your cat just got exposed to god knows what. Does your daughter's cat go outside, does it have FIV or FELV or worse? Again, all of that is outside of my control.
I just got a call from a kitten buyer whose so called "inside cat" got run over. Did the car run into the house? I think I would have seen that on the news. On closer inspection, it was an inside cat UNLESS it got out. Like with HIV infection, safe most of the time does not count with people or cats.
Once the kitten leaves here, I lose control of its health and cannot be responsible for what happens to it. I cannot guarantee that which I cannot control.
That said, in the last 14 years I have probably produced 450 cats. Of those cats, I have had reports of six cats becoming defective. The calls were a bit odd. One called to say their cat had FIV, an infectious disease, which my cats don't have and are tested for regularly. I don't know where it got FIV but not here.
We have had three cases of suspected FIP. FIP is a weird disease that any cat can get it at any time. However, it is more of a problem with inbred cats. It is more likely to affect purebred cats (70% of cats that develop FIP are purebred cats) purebred always means inbred. My cats are not inbred. They have lots of different imported cats up in their mix and I do not mate relatives. So my risk of FIP is lower than your average inbred Burmese cat.
Beyond that, it tends to happens with cats that experience poor sanitation and have lived in over-population at some point in their life. My cats are not inbred, they don't live in over-population, and I have really great hygiene practices. So, the chance of one of my cats developing FIP have been have been reduced because l have eliminated the known risk factors. And this program has worked, because I have had so few cases of FIP.
But, there are random cases of FIP that develop in a cat that is not inbred, does not come from overcrowding and poor sanitation. FIP can happen even in cats that do not experience the known risk factors. It just happens to some cats. I can reduce the risk factors, but I cant breed the cat out of the cat.
Oh ... I had one cat that did not grow. Literally, at a year it still weighed a pound. Not surprising, eventually its health deteriorated. I replaced that kitten because clearly there was something wrong with the cat, on a genetic level, and that did happen here. In medicine, those are called "accidents of nature". So, I have replaced a cat which clearly had something wrong with it and that wrongness started here.
Lastly, I did have a kitten die shortly after it was taken from here. The man was traveling to get back home and staying in hotels along the way. The cat got into some mouse poison in a hotel room and just keeled over. Live and learn. I now warn people staying in hotels to check the room for insecticide and rodenticide.
My promise to you is that I have done everything I can to make a healthy cat that will live a long life. I think I offer a promise more than a guarantee. If you want to know how much time I put into making a healthy cat, peruse this website. Lots of time. I feel I have done everything I can do to make a healthy cat. I avoid all the pitfalls. The cats are not inbred. The cats live in small numbers in happy cat houses. A vet comes here once a week to check their health. They eat great food. Blah, blah, blah. I promise you, I do and will do everything I can to make you a healthy kitten.
I am a reasonable person. If there is something wrong with a cat, i.e. it was born wrong, well, then I would take responsibility for that accident of nature. Fortunately, I just have not head to deal with sick kittens much so it has not been an issue. Hey, if the cat never grows, clearly something went wrong, and it went wrong on my end.
Just in case you don't know, when breeders want to insult another breeder, they say, "Oh, she is just a backyard breeder". I was not entirely clear on what that meant but I knew it was some sort of insult. I didn't especially care until a breeder informed me that another breeder said I was a "backyard breeder". I decided I better find out what it meant. Not being on the cat circuit, I had to call one of my "in the cat know cat breeder friends" to learn about the insult hurled against me.
Though getting a clear cut definition was not easy. I learned a backyard breeder is someone who breeds cats in their garage. Or a person that does not show their cats at cat shows. It can also mean you sell breeding cats to people who do not show cats in cat shows.
Breaking news. I don't show. I don't have time. I am full-on busy and if I have a free week, I'm going to Paris. Or Madrid. Frankly, even if I did have a surplus of time, I would not bring my cat to a show. There are too many infectious diseases floating around and I don't want to drag anything from a cat get together to my cats. Not so much to my cats, but to my kittens. They get things. They don't have a competent immune system. I don't even like taking my cats to the vet. The vet comes here to avoid exposure to sick cats. Guilty of crime one.
Now, I don't have a garage so it can't breed cats in a garage. I have purposely built cat houses with climate control and outdoor runs where we breed cats. Oh, and they are spaced apart and spread around my farm to prevent cross-contamination.
Now, I do give breeding rights to people who do not show. Sadly, cat breeders are dropping like flies. Let's just say a lot of cat breeders I once knew have gone to the big litter pan in the sky. So, whenever anyone expresses interest in breeding, and is like-minded regarding breeding for health and personality, I encourage them. We need more breeders. I know you think it's a glamorous job, but, in reality, it's a lot about cleaning litter boxes. It's not for everyone. So yes, I sell breeding cats to people who do not show.
I guess that makes me a "backyard breeder".
But in addition to being a "backyard breeder", I am other things. I am a doctor with a PhD in disease prevention with 30 years in the disease-prevention industry ... who directs 14 years of medical education and decades worth of experience in disease prevention towards creating a healthy cat.
And I have been breeding cats off and on for 35 years. Oh, and I live with a medical doctor who has also turned his attention to creating a healthy cat. So, we are two doctors who sit around working on making healthy cats. We don't do it in the backyard, but we do it. We mostly do it in the dining room over coffee. So, I think it would be more accurate to call us "Dining Room Breeders".
9. Getting a kitten into your hot little hands
Kittens can either be picked up from our area, or can be brought to you by a cat courier. Yes, such a thing exists.
We do not ship. Due to the nature of where we live, the cost of shipping a kitten is ridiculous. The kittens have to have a health certificate ($200), a carrier ($50), someone has to drive the kitten to the vet to get the certificate (3 man hours or $75), drive the kitten to the airport (4 man hours or $200), and the airfare is no less than $250. So, with no glitches, you are talking about an add on fee of $775. And I don't always have someone to pay to do all the running around. Lastly, on any given day, the airline can cancel a shipping reservation due to weather conditions, too hot or too cold. Perhaps someday I will work the kinks out on this and offer shipping, but at the moment, it does not make sense.
We do have a courier we trust. He is not inexpensive, but it can be a lot of work (see above) to get a kitten into your hands and to your home. Fido Fitness and Play https://fidofitnessandplay.com/ is a Washington, D.C.-based courier. If you chose to use Fido Fitness and Play, you will contract directly with them. Ed Walden, who owns the business, will do what he can to get the kitten to you at the most reasonable price possible. He is great.
Kittens are picked up when they are 10 weeks old. There may be extenuating circumstances, like say a litter gets a cold, and they need to stay longer. But, I have found 10 weeks is the best age to get them into their new homes. They adapt quickly to their new environment at that age. While I do my best to provide cats with the best possible NATURE, the new parent has to provide the NURTURE component. The earlier this starts, the better the cat will be as an adult. Also, most of my moms are done with the kittens at that age and it is time for them to go from THEIR perspective.
So for those reasons, I pick a kitten pick up date at the moment that is most ideal for the kittens. My priority is getting kittens into their new homes when it is best for them. This may inconvenience the human picking them up, but my focus is the kitten and its welfare.
People have asked, can you keep the kitten for another three weeks? That weekend isn't good for me, can I come the next month? The answer is no, because a three week delay represents a loss of valuable socialization time that needs to occur with the kitten in their new home.
As for picking up your kitten, we do not allow visits to our new farm. (We recently moved from closer in Northern Virginia to way out Northern Virginia.) In short, it's in a remote location and it's hard to find. We will meet you with your kitten at a location that is a little closer than our new location.
10. The Nature of Nature
Breeding cats is all about working with nature. Or, as I like to say, nature working with you. Despite my best laid plans, ultimately, nature runs the show. There is only so much I can control. As an example, I may predict kittens will be born one day and in fact, they come three weeks later. A litter of kittens may be ready to go home, and three days before the pick up date, they come down with a cold. And then they are not ready to leave. Or your kitten may take a flying leap off a cat tree and sprain their leg, and need to spend two extra weeks here while their leg heals. Or a mouse comes into the cattery, and a mother cat kills it and feeds it to her babies. And they all get diarrhea. And that diarrhea slows their growth, and their pick up date has to get put off. Or the blue-eyed kitten you picked out turns into a gold-eyed kitten. Things happen.
I control the factors I can control. But rest assured, things can and do happen all the time. Nature happens. You are getting a living, breathing creature and anything can happen with living creatures. Anything. I do my best, but sometimes kitten pick up is delayed.