Teddy’s Origin Story

Teddy is three years old! Well, his birthday is estimated and I just use May 30 as his approximate birthday. With this birthday, I thought it would be a great time to share how he came into my life! I wish that it was one of those “I found him on my doorstep, he came inside and never left” kind of stories, but its not. It was a really last minute, impulsive decision, but a great decision nevertheless!

Teddy is from a Back Yard Breeder (BYB). Towards the end of this post I will be sharing the issues surrounding this method of obtaining a kitten, as well as issues with this industry as a whole. I hope that by sharing this, more people will be less inclined to go the same route I did.

Teddy was the most precious boy

Getting Teddy

Deciding to get a kitten

In August of 2018, I had impulsively decided that I wanted a kitten in my life. My partner at the time (my ex) had recently gotten a kitten, Stella, and I was like “I need one too”. We thought they could grow up together and be playmates, which they did. To this day, Stella is the only cat Teddy accepts.

I knew that there were cats at shelters, and I had visited the Toronto Humane Society a few times. But kittens were quickly adopted out, and I wanted a kitten, not an adult cat. And so I decided to search for ads on Kijiji. After looking at two other kittens who were not the right fit, I saw the ad for Teddy. I wish I took a screenshot of it so I can show you how suspicious it was. It was an ad for “Russian Blue x Siberian” (which he clearly is not). I honestly didn’t know what I was looking for, so I contacted the poster.

Deciding to bring Teddy home

First time seeing Teddy. iPhone X quality.

The BYB arranged for us to meet at a parking lot. She had this kitten sitting on top of her car, unleashed, and he was just sitting there looking around with a blank expression. He was adorable, but the reason I really took to him was because he seemed unbothered by being in the parking lot, and not trying to hide or run away. I really wanted a confident cat, and not one that hid under the bed. The lady told me that he was the last kitten of the litter, 9 weeks old, and that he had his first vaccine and de-worming. I didn’t see anything wrong with that, so I told her I wanted him. We agreed on a cost ($450 – compared to the Toronto Humane Society who charges $120 for kittens), and she said she would email or send me his medical records when she got home (which I never got and never heard back from her).

The first night

I had read that introducing a kitten to your home should be done slowly, and to restrict them to one room. So I set his litter box, food and water, and his bed in my ensuite washroom. I stayed with him for a while to make sure the washroom was safe and comfortable for him, and then I left him. I left the door ajar as I didn’t want to shut him alone in the washroom all night, but he could stay if he wanted.

Then, I went to bed. But a few minutes later, a tiny kitten was suddenly right next to my face. Teddy had followed me, and jumped up on the bed (which was a really high jump for a tiny kitten). He started purring like a machine and decided to settle down between my legs. This is still his favourite spot today! A couple hours into his first night and he had already accepted me as his human! It was adorable and I was instantly in love.

His favourite spot as a kitten – he would purr so loudly next my head that I couldn’t sleep.

Initial few days

It quickly became clear that Teddy was a skittish kitten. If I was sitting still, he would let me pet him, and he would love it. He would even come to me for snuggles, and would not leave me alone when I was trying to sleep every single night. But, if any human walking towards him, he would always scuttle off and hide under furniture.

For a few days, I actually regretted getting Teddy. I thought there was something wrong with him that I didn’t realize when I saw him in the parking lot. He was not the carefree kitten I saw initially, and instead he was a skittish kitten that I had purposefully tried to avoid. When he was in the parking lot, in a new environment, he didn’t show his true personality. This is why it’s important to visit the kittens in their home.

I even thought about giving him away while he was still a cute kitten and I was not overly attached. But I knew that I had signed up to be his owner, and I had made a 15-20 year commitment. Getting a kitten is not like getting a pair of shoes, and I couldn’t just return him. (Also I literally couldn’t, as the BYB had completely ignored all my messages.)

Socializing a skittish kitten

I read so many guides on how to socialize kittens.

After putting the negative thoughts out of my mind, I focused on working with Teddy. I knew that deep down he liked humans, because he would snuggle with me at night when I was not moving, but during the day, he still did not trust me. So, for the first few weeks, I wore thick socks, moved in slow motion, and tiptoed around him. I would repeatedly walk slowly around him, never touching him, and he would watch me with wide eyes, ready to bolt at any second. Eventually, after some time, he saw that I would walk around nothing bad happened, so he slowly accepted it. And he slowly became less skittish around humans. Today, he has no skittish tendencies, so I am happy I worked with him to overcome it when he was still very young.

However, he is still not a confident cat to this day, and many things scare him, such as water sounds, the vacuum, and plastic bag sounds. He is also reactive and becoming more aggressive when seeing other cats and dogs. I still think this is due to the fact that he was not socialized properly when he was 1-9 weeks old with the BYB, which is why it is so important to get kittens from a reputable source. From 9-12 weeks I mainly worked on getting him less afraid of humans, and didn’t really work on introducing him to new things at all, which likely played a huge part in his personality today. If I could re-do those few weeks, I could bring him to see many dogs and many cats, and made sure he had happy experiences with them.

The only friend Teddy ever had. And it took a few months for them to get along. Teddy plays too rough and Stella never fights back.

Problems with Backyard Breeders

A backyard breeder is essentially a normal person like you or me, who are not registered with any organization. They don’t have health certificates or contracts, and usually don’t really care where the kittens end up. They could be people who intentionally breed cats for money, or they could be accidental litters.

I have never shared the fact that Teddy is from a BYB, partially because I am afraid of judgement, but also because I don’t want to encourage others to do what I did. There are so many problems with backyard breeders (BYB) and I strongly feel that we should not support this industry. Here were my personal problems with the backyard breeder:

  • Behavioral issues – I never saw the home Teddy grew up in, and never knew how he was treated or socialized. From his initial skittish kitten phase, I can guess it was less than ideal situations. Today, he exhibits some issues with aggression and it could be due to his lack of socialization as a young kitten.
  • Falsely advertised breed – The BYB said he was half Russian Blue and half Siberian, which is clearly a lie. I did a DNA test for teddy and he is a mixed breed. I was essentially scammed as I paid extra for the breed he was advertised as.
  • Did not let me see her home – I met this lady at a parking lot and she made excuses about why I couldn’t see her home. I really have no idea what kind of home Teddy grew up in, and I don’t know what the parents look like, despite the fact that he came from a home and was not picked up on the streets.
  • Never sent medical records – She told me he had his first vaccines and deworming, but there was no way to confirm this without the documents. She never sent them, even though she promised she would. The vet was not comfortable believing word of mouth, which is the right thing to do, so we did a second deworming treatment and vaccine. I also never knew his actual birth date.
  • Never replied to any further messages – After she got my money, she quickly ghosted me and all my questions. Even questions like, what food is he eating, when is his birthday, I never heard back. She really did not care for his well being after getting her money.
Sometimes he looks like a homeless cat.

There are so many more reasons why to not support the BYB industry. Other problems in general with backyard breeders include:

  • Other types of scams – In addition to falsely advertising the breed, sometimes BYB might take your money deposit, and then disappear.
  • Other behavioral issues – In addition to skittishness, kittens can also develop other psychological issues when they are not properly socialized.
  • Health issues – Cats coming from a bad breeder can have health issues, since they might be inbred, not have received the proper nutrients, or other environmental causes.
  • Unethical breeding situations – As they can sell their kittens for cash, they may encourage their cats to get pregnant often, and keep them under inhumane conditions.
  • Kittens sold too young – Kittens are often advertised at 8 weeks of age, but it is better for them to leave at 12-14 weeks, so they can learn from the mother.
  • There are better ways to get kittens – You can join local cat adoption facebook groups, visit shelters, or even go to a breeder if you want a specific breed. There are so many cats in the world, there is no need for BYB to be adding more kittens into the world. 
  • You are supporting the industry – when you go the BYB route, you are supporting this industry. Whatever makes money, people will do. Don’t think of it as rescuing a kitten – you are supporting the backyard breeder industry.
  • You can get an adult cat – many people opt for kittens, but I honestly believe an older cat is a better option. They have a developed personality, don’t require as much attention, and you will really impact that cat’s life. Kittens are so easily adopted out. If I were to get another cat, I would get an adult cat. 

5 thoughts on “Teddy’s Origin Story

  1. Thank you for sharing Teddy’s backstory and for speaking out against BYBs! It’s great that it worked out for you both in the end. I’ve heard scary stories from friends/acquaintances about such breeders and am glad it’s something that’s talked about more today.

    (I got Zara at 14 months from a shelter after she weaned her own babies, so I never experienced the kitten demand frustration, but I know with 7 pages of available kittens at my local shelter, people say that it’s still hard to adopt one since they go soooo fast. It’s wild)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finding a kitten is quite challenging these days and I’m glad I already got the kitten experience out of my system. I will definitely get an adult cat if I were every to get another cat!

      Like

  2. BYB are super sketch but Teddy is such a great cat I am glad he found a way into your life regardless.
    My cats all just…arrived…lol Yui came from some acquaintances that gave me an ultimatum: take the kitten or she goes to the shelter.
    My two new cats had a nice home until their owner suddenly passed. The property mgt company was tasked with attending to her belongings, including her cats, it was another ultimatum of taking the cats or they go to the shelter.
    It’s odd it has happened twice now but I have 3 wonderful cats now. 🙂

    Like

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