There are varying opinions regarding teacup cats, and sometimes these opinions are strongly held indeed. There are those who are convinced that teacup cats are nothing more than a scam. Others would like to see teacup cats gain the same recognition as teacup dogs. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there are some basic facts about teacup cats that should be explored.
Recognition of Teacup Cats
Gaining recognition for teacup cats is fraught with controversy. One of the greatest obstacles to true recognition is unscrupulous breeders. There are many breeders out there who will attempt to pass off runts and other small cats as teacups. These cats are usually unhealthy and sometimes even deformed. This practice has led some to believe that teacup cats are no more than a scam.
However, just as with teacup dogs, it is possible to breed for the gene that results in a tiny cat. In the dog world, teacup Poodles are the best example of this. A true teacup poodle has been bred down to weigh only two pounds or so. This has been accomplished to some degree with the Munchkin cat. This cat, though technically a dwarf cat, has a short cobby body and legs which are obviously shorter than the average cat. Munchkins have been recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA) since the 1980s. If the Munchkin can be bred and eventually recognized as a legitimate breed, then it is possible that teacup cats will eventually gain recognition as well.
What is a Teacup Cat?
Munchkins, though a good example of how selective breeding for a specific mutation can be successful, are not teacup cats. Teacup cats are the result of a different mutation, one which results in a cat that while smaller, has all the proportions of a normal-sized cat. In general, a male teacup cat would weigh between three and seven pounds, where a normal cat might weigh up to seventeen pounds. Females might weigh as much as six pounds, compared to their normal-sized counterparts which might weigh in at around fourteen pounds.
The genetic mutation that results in a teacup cat is extremely rare. For this reason, the breeding of teacup cats is quite difficult and time consuming. It also has its own share of problems.
Problems With Breeding Teacup Cats
Unfortunately for teacup cats, one of the surest ways to breed for the necessary mutation is through inbreeding. This can cause a variety of health problems including neurological difficulties, cardiovascular problems, decreased life span, and many different deformities. This is very much a problem for the cats subjected to inbreeding and unethical breeders.
Critics of teacup cats will point to these unethical breeders as prime examples of why teacup cats should be banned, as the Munchkin is in some cat fanciers’ associations. And while it’s true that unscrupulous breeders are a problem, there has been some success with breeding teacup cats. In the late 1990s, several breeds were successfully reduced to teacup size, including the Persian. These kittens were studied over several years and were found to be perfectly healthy, just small. So it is possible to breed healthy teacup cats, but it’s also difficult and requires a great deal of knowledge of a particular breed.
Purchasing a Teacup Kitten
The successes are exciting, but if you’re considering purchasing a teacup kitten, be vigilant. True teacup kittens are expensive, mostly because of their rarity and the difficulties encountered when breeding them. If you find a breeder willing to part with a kitten for $50, it’s probably not a teacup kitten at all. It might be a runt, or it may even be a kitten that was deliberately deprived of certain nutrients. This can result in a tiny kitten, but the kitten will be unhealthy.
Search for a quality breeder than can explain the breeding process to you. Ask to see the parents, and their parents if available. A loving breeder who is concerned with the health and well-being of their kittens will not mind giving you a tour of their cattery. A good breeder of teacup cats will also question you about your home, your living arrangements, past and present pets you might have, and will probably want to go over basic cat care. The kitten will likely be spayed or neutered before you can take it home to protect against inappropriate breeding practices.
Though there certainly are teacup kittens available for purchase, make sure you do your homework first. Question the breeder and be suspicious of cheap prices. True teacup kittens will usually cost you anywhere from $1000 - $2000. You may be able to find one for as little as $500. Less than this, and you’re probably looking at a runt, and runts, cute as they are, are simply not teacup cats.
Teacup cats are just as affectionate and sweet as other cats. They can make excellent pets and are perfect for people with small apartments. They may be small, but they have big personalities. If you’re looking for the perfect feline companion, a teacup cat might be for you.