The cost of time
Several months ago, I read a post on a social media group for Ragdoll lovers about how many photos a breeder should send and how often. The resounding sentiment from the commenters was, "If I'm paying this much for a kitten, the breeder should xyz". It stuck with me, that post. The many similar posts I've read since have really started to wear on me. Yesterday I read another. The OP was asking how much communication they should expect because they were starting to worry that they'd chosen the wrong breeder. A couple of people had already commented before I got there. "as a breeder, I always..." "it doesn't take that much time to respond" "I'll sell you a cat". My contribution was something like this (and I'm paraphrasing because I can't see the post anymore and I'll tell you about that later), "I don't think "Should" applies here. Every breeder is different, we all have a lot gong on, many are moms with children, we get calls, texts, emails, dm's on multiple platforms, we're managing webpages, etc. It's a good idea to discuss communication during your initial interview with the breeder to make sure you're a good fit".
And I mean this. Let me give you a little view into my week: Three days a week, I work for myself as a small animal massage therapist. Three days a week I work a full day at an animal hospital. One day a week I change the sheets, mop the floors, scrub the bathrooms, disinfect the litter boxes and think about going to the beach but end up at the grocery store instead. Every day of the week I do a couple of hours of animal care in the morning, scooping, laundry, vacuuming, washing food and water dishes, nail trims, brush outs, kitten booty washes, feeding the chickens and the goats, exercising the dogs, etc. Every day of the week, I prioritize playing, snuggling, singing, and dancing with the kitties. Every day of the week, I consider how many hours I'll be away from home, which of my kids will be home, and how many "ignored" hours the kitties might suffer. Lucky for them, its really almost none. And I adjust my social life accordingly. By the way, I'm a human with a rich and varied social life. Every day of the week I'm a single mama. Every day of the week, I'm the one paying the bills, maintaining the home, trying to pull the weeds in the garden. Every day of the week I get texts, emails, messages on insta and fb, I respond to comments on those pages, and I return phone calls. For my cattery and my massage business. Some days of the week, I have vet appointments, or phone interviews, or I do a bunch of research about how to fly a kitten to Hawaii. Some days of the week, I devote many hours to the rescue I work with, consulting, meeting, vaccinating, troubleshooting. Some days of the week I have the flu or it's my birthday. Somewhere in there, I try to feed and cultivate my friendships, support other breeders, and call my Mom. I update my webpage and keep my memberships current. I find shows and hotels and flights, I travel to shows, I show bath kittens. I try to contribute to social media threads and I post on my own pages. When placing this most recent group of 9 kittens, I spoke with, texted with, emailed with, facetimed with more than 20 people. I even allowed a few to visit my home on my one day away from “work”. And then after those kittens were reserved, I sent contracts, followed up, updated my bookkeeping, and fielded a gajillion more questions and requests for photos. Then I rounded up all of the pick up and drop off times, ordered all of the go-home goodies, registered the kittens, gathered the paperwork, and I still have to go to the airport a few times, have folks come to my home, and make a couple of drop offs. Am I complaining? HECK NO! I've chosen this and I love it. i love connecting with cat lovers and I love making new friends. But I feel like we humans can be really myopic and that we fail to remember that we are not the only one. And the internet encourages and exacerbates this sensibility. if we all choose to take a rock from the river, there will be none. Regardless of the price of my kitten, no one owns me or my time. I do not owe anyone anything but the kitten I contractually agreed to provide. All of the rest is gravy, kindness, common decency, and just plain fun. "Should" does not apply. Or as my friend Libby likes to say, "Don't should all over yourself".
Why am I finally writing about this now? I woke this morning at about five and snuggled kittens, I opened my phone and started responding to messages that had arrived late last night. One was from someone who had made one of those social media posts, worried she'd chosen the wrong breeder, asking if she could tell me who the breeder was and get my opinion. My response? "Of course, absolutely, happy to help." She later told me that she'd found another breeder she was feeling more comfortable with. Great. Then she asked me this...."Also, if there's an older breeder. What happens to the health guarantee if something would happen to the breeder?" Here's my response, "Oh good, I'm glad you found a breeder that feels like a better fit for you. I think your question of "what if something happens to the breeder" is a valid one but I would caution you against applying it solely to the elderly. Many breeders retire or close their catteries and ultimately we will all die" and I gave it a winky face for good measure. Annnnd then she got cranky and told me that it was a valid question (I said that didn't i?) and she added my name in her sentence for extra snarky emphasis. Then she asked me what would happen to the guarantee if something happened to the breeder. Then she added "that is a general question for all breeders of all ages". Then she accused me of twisting her words and gaslighting her and then she blocked me. I never had the opportunity to answer her question about the what if. Unfortunate too since it's a pretty simple answer. Suck it up, sue the estate, hope her descendants take pity on you. But hopefully your breeder won't die anytime soon, regardless of age, and hopefully you won't need the protection of the health guarantee. Meanwhile, in being helpful, I allowed this person to steal even more of my precious time. Time she wanted from her breeder but she didn't get it. SO instead she messaged breeders (yup plural) taking time from many. Interesting right? And I don't think that really occured to her because she is still smarting from my admonishment not to be ageist. Listen, y'all don't be ageist, it’s not cool. And be thoughtful about the way you utilize other people's time. Get a feel for your breeder and decide if their style works for you. Me? I'm pretty random. Photos appear when they appear. And I try to respond quickly, but I don't always have time, and sometimes my answers are short, and I think we can agree that trying to wedge all of my responses in while stopped at a stoplight is a poor choice and could result in a worthless health guarantee. I had a conversation earlier today about living with the assumption that everyone is a jerk or that everyone is doing their best. I'm doing my best. All seven days of the week.
Like I always say, choose your breeder. Not your kitten. Not your price. CHOOSE your breeder. And then trust them to do their job. Kitty kisses and whisker tickles, goodnight.