Choosing A Breeder

Why buy your cat From Belle Hollow?

Things to consider when selecting your Breeder:

Access:

Many Savannah and or Egyptian Mau breeders do not permit on-site visits to their facility. It is our strong feeling that if a breeder won’t let you see his or her cats in their facility, you should not do business with them. The simple fact that they do not want you to see the way they raise their kittens or puppies for that matter should raise your hackles. If every owner visited every breeder they purchase kittens or puppies from then puppy mills would not exist. Your breeder should be happy to show you the parents of your prospective new family member and the facility or home in which he or she was raised. I would never buy any pet from a breeder that would not permit a cattery or kennel visit, nor should you!

I understand that breeders, like myself, prefer appointments for visits since they are not always available with no notice but that said if you wish to visit by appointment you should be welcomed by your prospective breeder. You should be permitted to see all the areas where animals are maintained and freely ask questions about anything that concerns you. There are no dumb questions, just sometimes dumb answers! Belle Hollow is happy to allow farm and cattery visits for prospective owners or other interested parties by appointment. We are a USDA licensed facility and have nothing to hide in the care and treatment of our animals.

Deposits:

Many breeders accept deposits on kittens that are as yet unborn. We understand that in an effort to have the first opportunity to purchase a rare or hard to find kitten many buyers think that making a deposit on a future litter is in their best interest. We at Belle Hollow do not for the most part accept deposits on unborn kittens. We breed early generation Savannah kittens, which are very difficult to produce. The kitten you as a buyer may want may not be forth coming for many months, in some cases a year or more if at all depending on what it is you think you want. We feel it is unfair to tie a buyer to us, knowing we may or may not be able to provide the desired kitten in a timely manner. By making a deposit with any other breeder or us you may miss an opportunity to purchase just the perfect kitten from another breeder. That being said many buyers will say they want something but when the kitten is produced they may no longer be willing to purchase without the threat of losing their deposit. We have developed a policy of first deposit received first kitten reserved after we announce the birth of healthy kittens.

We maintain a database of all inquiries for Savannah and Egyptian Mau kittens and when we have a litter that is healthy and we have reasonable belief will thrive we notify all those buyers at once. We find that many kittens are under contract within a couple of days of that announcement and the balance usually is sold shortly thereafter. This way a serious buyer does not need to go to the back of the line and wait his or her turn. You merely must respond quickly and concisely when notified that a kitten that meets your criteria is born. We also find that as a result of this policy we frequently have kittens available when the prospective owner is ready for them even if they haven’t planned to purchase a kitten months or years in advance. We are happy to tell our prospective owners what litters we expect and what the likelihood is of producing the kitten they are looking for. We don’t hold the threat of losing a deposit over future kitten owners’ heads to buy when we are ready as opposed to when you, the buyer, want a kitten.

Shipping:

Although we would prefer that all our kittens be picked up we understand that it is not always practical for every owner to visit our farm to pick up their kitten. In an effort to make kittens available to distant buyers we are willing to meet new owners at Atlanta Hartfield Airport to pick up their kittens or in some cases are willing to deliver thier new kitten to an Airport of thier choice. We have been doing this sucessfully for about 2 years and although the cost is slightly higher that air frieght shipping it is certianly safer and easier on your new family member.

If you intend to have us deliver your kitten to you at Atlanta’s Airport you will need to coordinate your travel with our ability to get the kitten to the Airport. Atlanta is 2 1/2 hours from the farm so planning is important. We ask that you make your reservations with a 4 hours window in Atlanta to accomdate delays in arrivals or other unexpected delays.  This allows time for you to disembark and meet us in the terminal. Then you need time to check in your new kitten and go back through Security before your flight home. All kittens flying will have a Veternanry issued Health Certificate.

If we are delievering your kitten to your airport we will coordinate with you.

Due to new rules from the USDA effective 11/18/13 most breeders will be required to offer this method of transportation. Airfrieght shipping will only be available from USDA licensed breeders. Although we have always held a USDA license we still feel it is safer for your pet to travel in-cabin which is why we had already begun this service prior to the new rules.

Spay and neutering:

We do not spay or neuter kittens before delivery except in special circumstances. We prefer that male kittens reach an age of 14 weeks but not more than 20 weeks and a weight of 3 pounds before neutering. Female kittens should be at least 3 pounds before spaying. We feel it is in your pet’s best interest to avoid neutering at extremely early ages but would like our kitten to get to your home while still 8 to 12 weeks of age for early bonding. If you desire that your kitten be spayed or neutered before delivery we can accommodate that at your expense but we will not deliver the kitten until it reaches the above criteria for surgery and has had a reasonable amount of time for recovery. If you purchase a kitten as a pet from Belle Hollow Farms and Exotics you will be required by contract to spay or neuter based on the above criteria. Failure to do so will result in legal action to recover the kitten or to charge a significant breeder’s premium.

De-clawing:

Where legal, Belle Hollow Farms and Exotics places no restriction on the de-clawing of its kittens. Although we are not necessarily in favor of this procedure we understand that there are circumstances when de-clawing is desirable. If your pet lives with or sees the very elderly or very young it can be the only way to make the ownership of a cat and especially in the case of an F-1 Savannah possible since scratches happen and not everyone and every cat is great with nail trimmers.

Veterinary Care:

Does the breeder you have selected use the services of a licensed Veterinarian to give your kittens first vaccines and health check ups? All kitten from Belle Hollow are vacinated and health checked by either Dr. Amanda Markum DVM, our daughter, or Dr. Ann Shower DVM,a dear friend.

Felv and FIV Testing:

FeLv and FIV testing is not very accurate in kittens before the age of 12 weeks. Unless your kitten is at least 12 weeks do not depend on the Breeders test to be accurate. Here at Belle Hollow we do not test kittens under the age of 12 weeks but instead test all adult cats before allowing them into the cattery including wild species. We practice strict quarantine of new cats and kittens before they can become part of our breeding pool. All cats receive a full physical, which includes a full veterinary evaluation, a combo test for FeLv and FIV, fecal samples, and any other tests we think may disclose any medical conditions effecting that individual cat. Many cats receive a full blood panel and x-rays as well. All cats spend 30 days in quarantine upon arrival to reduce the risk of Upper Respiratory Infections coming in from the outside.

FIP – The evil twin:

The dread FIP virus is a mutation of a corona virus (the evil twin). Corona viruses are very common in the general cat population. Almost every cat has at one time or another in his or her life acquired a corona virus and recovered without any serious impact. Once a cat has had a corona virus it will carry titers (antibody indicators found by blood test) to indicate that it has developed some immunity to that virus. These titers can be very high if the cat actively has the virus but will be reduced once the infection has subsided and, like vaccines, they will show that the cat has developed some limited immunity from future events. Unfortunately there is no way to predict when the common corona virus will mutate into FIP, which for the most part is incurable. Diagnosing FIP is very difficult as a high titer can indicate any of the Corona Viruses not just the one that causes FIP. Most cats and kittens are diagnosed based on an on going debilitating condition along with paired corona virus titers. Once diagnosed you will need to consider having the kitten euthanized as the FIP as there is currenly no cure. We here at Belle Hollow are realistic enough to know that we can not control all corona viruses. Once a kitten contracts a corona virus it is impossible to know if it will mutate into the evil twin FIP. Further once a kitten leaves our cattery it is impossible to know what other cats it is exposed to may be carrying. Many catteries have produced kittens that subsequently developed FIP from the same litter as kittens that are unaffected so the fact that a breeder has produced one or two kittens that developed the virus really doesn’t mean too much. Now if a line of cats continue to produce kittens that later develop FIP then there should be some concern that that line may lack some natural immunity or that there maybe carriers within the cattery itself.

Parasites:

Kittens should have no evidence of external parasites. It is just a matter of simple hygiene to keep fleas, ticks, and mites off well cared for kittens. Internal parasites can be another issue.

Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms etc:

A simple worming regiment that any reputable breeder should follow easily removes these parasites. Roundworms in particular are passed from mother cats to their young in their milk. Even though the mother cat may have no evidence of infestation it is still entirely possible she can carry the eggs of this parasite in her muscle tissue and to her young. All kittens should be wormed at least once between 4 and 6 weeks. We worm all our kittens twice here at Belle Hollow even though all our queens are tested for and outwardly free of the parasites.

Coccidia, Giardia and similar protozoan parasites:

These are the bane of a breeder’s existence.

The simple fact is that most adult cats carry coccidia in their gut from the time they are kittens until they die. As a result almost all kittens pick up this protozoan from their mother’s litter box. Most will never have a big problem with this since as long as the gut flora does not get out of whack the kitten’s and the cat’s own immune systems will hold this at bay. The problem usually comes when the kitten is stressed at weaning or when traveling to their new homes. They may then experience a bloom of this single cell organism. The result is runny poops sometimes accompanied by mucus or small amounts of blood. Untreated this can be life threatening resulting in dehydration and death. Diagnosis is usually made by fecal sample although if the symptoms appear most vets will assume coccidia whether they find the protozoan in the stool sample or not. Fortunately Coccida is easily treated with Albon (a sulfur based drug) readily available from your vet. The drug does not actually kill all the protozoa but merely reduces the over growth and allows the kitten time to once again develop normal intestinal flora. Sometimes if the kitten has a really rough bout our vet will prescribe a 3-day course of Marquis, which does in fact kill the bug but will not prevent re-infestation. This however is only in extreme cases with older kittens. We at Belle Hollow always warn our owners to look out for Coccidia blooms when they first take their kittens’ home especially if they are shipped. Most kittens and cats develop natural immunity to suppress these blooms (overgrowths) by the time they are 6 to 9 months, but until that time any kitten from any breeder is subject to this particular issue.

Giardia is very similar to coccidia in that it persists in the gut of adults and is easily transmitted to kittens but usually through contaminated water supply. This can be a problem for a breeder especially if the queens are fond of playing in their water supply. This is frequently a problem with hybrid species like Savannahs and Bengals since most like water and will play in the water bowl with dirty feet from the litter box. Mau also like their water bowls so we are ever diligent. Cleanliness is the key but with some queens near impossible to achieve. The symptoms are very much like coccidia with runny, mucussy stool sometimes tainted with a bloody discharge. Like Coccidia if untreated it can be life threatening but is very easily treated. Diagnosis is more difficult since the protozoan is hard to find in a stool sample and the “Snap Test” available to your vet is notoriously unreliable. Most vets will assume Giardia if the kitten does not respond to the treatment for Coccidia and many will treat for both at once when unsure which single cell is the problem. The treatment for giardia is very simple being 3 to 5 days of oral panacur. Unlike Coccidia, Giardia should not continue to re-occur once treated.

There are several other single cell bugs which can be more challenging to diagnose and treat but we have not at this time had to consider these bugs in our cattery. In any event most of these types of protozoa which are technically parasites only flourish in very young immature guts and as long as they are treated they are more a nuisance than a real threat to your kitten. We strongly recommend that you not change your kitten’s diet suddenly or place your kitten in very stressful situations. Just like their human parents, upset tummies come and go and if not allowed to get out of hand for the most part are self-resolving with proper diet and a clean environment.