Join us for a conversation with Persian cat breeder Sue Johnson of Cozy Kittens Cattery. Sue and her family have been breeding beautiful Persians for years, and are the breeders of Mr. Bigglesworth of Austin Powers Goldmember fame. Find out tips for finding the right Persian cat breeder, and hear the story behind Sue's Hollywood cat.
Sue, share with us how you became a Persian cat breeder.
We thought we were buying a female, and named her Jenna. Imagine our shock to find out at a routine vet visit that Jenna was a boy!
We called the breeder we bought Jenna from and she offered us a female and the option to breed the two together. I jumped at the change and that's how my journey as a Persian cat breeder began.
It's a job that requires us to be "on call" twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year. There's no time for sick days or vacation days, but the rewards are endless! I have met so many incredibly sweet and kind people that I never would have had the pleasure knowing if it weren't for my kitties. People say, "Sue, you have the best job in the world!" and I have to agree. I get to play with kittens all the time, watch new lives begin and meet wonderful new friends...what could be better?
Why did you choose to focus on breeding Persians?
I just think they are so beautiful and incredibly affectionate, great with children and other pets. They are my idea of the perfect cat!
What can you tell us about Persian personalities?
Persians are very docile and laid back yet very loyal to their owners. They usually favor the person who fills their food dish more than anyone else in the house, but overall they are "equal opportunity lovers". They are quite gentle and eager to please.
Some Persian cats are quite vocal and have a lot to tell you, while others hardly ever make a peep. Some of them will chitter chatter back and forth with you as long as you will carry on a conversation with them. I think for the most part they are just telling you stories about their latest adventures or tattling on another kitty that has taken their toys!
Are there any particular health issues that affect this breed?
Well, I don't really know much about other breeds, but I do think Persian cats are very healthy and don't seem to be plagued with any one particular health issue. The flatter faced ones tend to have more watery eyes but that isn't a health concern, just a maintenance issue.
What should potential owners look for when they visit a cattery?
Well, you know that has become quite a hard topic for breeders to deal with in today's day age of the Internet because there are serious safety issues involved when letting complete strangers inside your establishment.As breeders, we want to show off the mommies and daddies as well as how much pride we take in the cats living quarters, but as parents, the safety of our children must always take top priority. After all, we tell our kids not to talk to strangers, and here mom and dad are welcoming them right in off the Internet into our living rooms.
Normally, I would advise potential customers to ask to see the adult living quarters, and to pay special attention to the condition of the breeders. After all, anyone can make a kitten look good, but the adult breeders are the ones who are doing the work, especially the mama cat.
Ask yourself what they look like. Are they clean? Are their coats shiny and free of mats? Are their eyes clear? And then the kittens- do they have toys scattered around? I have been in catteries before where the kittens did not have even a single ball to play with! If the breeder doesn't seem concerned about the kittens emotional well being, it's not a place I would consider adopting from.
What do you look for in a prospective owner?
I don't want to discriminate but I don't like large Dogs dogs in the home where I'm adopting a kitten into, especially breeds that have been labeled as sometimes violent.I also don't like to send my kittens into homes where there are very small children, like under two years old. It's hard to gauge whether they understand safe ways to play with and hold a pet.
I do try and really get a feel for the family and who they are by simply listening to them tell me about themselves, their home and their families. I ask for each potential customer to fill out a very detailed online adoption application form, listing references and their vet's phone number so I can verify the information provided.
Any tips for picking out a happy, healthy feline companion?
Yes, always try and adopt from a Persian cat breeder who has children in the home.
We have all known of people who tell us about their beautiful Persian cat, but when you go to their home, it can't be seen because most likely it's hiding out under the bed taking shelter from the invading strangers.
I truly believe that the "Kitten Foundation" is formed at the breeder's home, and that foundation is carried throughout their lives. If they become used to a very quiet home that is what they'll always want. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you want a kitten that comes from a home with people yelling and screaming with no sense of peace and harmony. It's just that when children are present in the home there's a lot more hustle and bustle, and that tends to result in very social and outgoing kittens.
Tell us about your celebrity cat, Mr. Bigglesworth of Austin Powers Goldmember fame.
Oh, that's been quite a walk on the wild side for a small town girl like myself.
I get tons of online kitten applications every day and sometimes those are often just people playing around. Well, one night I sat down to answer emails and there was an application from a lady in California who said she was looking for the new "Mr. Bigglesworth" to play the part in the third Austin Powers movie. I kind of raised my eyebrow and thought, "Is this a joke?" I picked up the phone and called the number on the application, and soon realized this was no joke, and Hollywood truly wanted a Cozy Kitten!
Well, "Mr. Bigglesworth" was actually a little girl and one I was keeping back as a future breeder, but that is the kitten they saw on my website and the one they wanted for Austin Powers Goldmember, so without hesitation, I let my little blue-eyed white Persian baby girl go off to Hollywood, knowing I would someday see her on the big screen. A smile from ear to ear streamed across my face when I saw her up there, knowing that she was born here at my cattery. I was so proud of her and always will be.
Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to leave our readers with?
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank LoveToKnow Cats for doing this interview. This has been a lot of fun, and something I have enjoyed tremendously.
On a closing note, I would like to ask anyone possibly interested in adding a feline family member to always check your local humane shelters before adopting from breeders or pet stores. Many cats in need of good homes are often overlooked in favor of the purebred ones, and I like to bring light to these furry friends when ever I get the opportunity.