By Juliette Cardinale
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Would you spend a minimum wage for a cat? Presented like this, the idea may shock. However, some highly sought-after breeds sell for much more. In Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers (Orne), Jennifer Guenier has a breeding of these very precious cats: some Ragdolls, but especially Maine Coon.
“On average, a Maine Coon sells for at least €1,000. But a cat with a very rare coat color can sell for the price of a nice car”, says the breeder of the Ragdollywood & Coon Cattery.
The bill can rise to 10,000 € for a cat with a quality pedigree, especially if it is intended to reproduce.
On her property, in 2022, she has “15 cats capable of reproduction”, but also sterilized cats, dogs, sheep… Animal lover, Jennifer Guenier, 44, has long been attracted to breeding.
I have always loved cats, I had rescued some, but I dreamed of having a purebred cat one day.
She started in 2014 in Deauville (Calvados), after a life in sales, and moved to Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers in 2019.
Jennifer started with Ragdoll cats. “They are soft and cuddly, I had a male and two females. And then she discovered the Maine Coon with Medusa, her first female.
“I had a real crush on this wild creature with such a particular look. It is a very sweet feline, perfect with children. Today, his breeding is mostly made up of Maine Coons.
They have a behavior close to the dog, they are very sociable. This is often what customers are looking for.
The particularity of this breed is its wingspan. The largest sizes reaching an average of 12 kilos. “We call them the gentle giants,” explains Jennifer Guenier.
More than 120 m² for the cattery
On the ground floor, the entire floor is devoted to cats, i.e. 120 m² separated into several rooms. The different animals live together according to their affinities. “They are not castrated. You can’t put two dominant males together, for example. They would risk being violent or marking their territory,” explains the breeder.
Each room is linked to the secure outdoor space. “A terrace surrounded by wire netting goes around the ground floor, and each group of cats has access to it in turn. I open the door of each room on a rotation of several hours. »
The profession of breeder is not simply taking care of cats. Jennifer followed a training, the certificate of capacity for domestic animals (CCAD), in order to have legal and genetic knowledge.
There is a real work of selection in order to produce large cats that correspond to demand. A Maine Coon typically has a square muzzle, high feathered ears, and is muscular. I like them long, slender, high on the legs.
Jennifer’s cats are registered in the Loof, the official book of feline origins which is the genealogical register of purebred cats born in France.
A fragile animal
Genetic selection obliges, the breed becomes fragile, and a litter can oscillate between a single kitten or many small ones. Last year, one of the cats gave birth to nine kittens.
You can never be certain that the pregnancy will be completed, I have to ensure the comfort and well-being of the cats at all times.
The pregnant cats live with the family, upstairs. “They give birth in the maternity ward, a space next to my bedroom. I can thus supervise and assist the mothers. They stay there for about four weeks with the kittens. »
Then the mothers and their young are moved to the nursery. “They trudge around in a furnished room. »
All this, with a very strict health protocol. “The Maine Coon is a fragile and sensitive cat breed. In order to avoid any contamination, we wear blouse, shoes, etc. in order to enter the room. The kittens only come out vaccinated”, continues Jennifer.
Infants require a lot of attention. “The last two born, particularly,” explains Jennifer Guenier.
The mother has not produced milk. I had to bottle feed them every two hours for 4 days, then hand feed them for a few weeks before they ate on their own. Fortunately, the mother did not neglect them.
“I don’t separate the kittens from the mother until they are at least 14 weeks old. They must be weaned, but also that the mother has had time to raise them. »
Thousands of kilometers traveled
Some do not hesitate to travel thousands of kilometers for a cat… or to bring the breeder to them. Recently, Jennifer Guenier went to Guadeloupe to deliver a Maine Coon to a client who fell in love with it. In this case, the buyer bears the transport and travel costs.
What diet? All the cats in the cattery are fed a “raw fooding” diet, that is to say raw meat. Each portion corresponds to that of a prey.
“Cats weighing less than 7 kilos can travel in the cabin. I prefer to take care of it rather than calling on a carrier, to ensure animal welfare. Before embarking on such a trip, the cat must be familiarized with the transport box and the car. »
Before selling an animal, Jennifer Guenier gets to know potential customers. “I always discuss a time to know to whom I will entrust each baby. »
Especially if the cat is destined to breed. It is then sold at a higher price, and Jennifer makes sure of the seriousness of the breeder. “You have to be able to manage, it’s not so easy to have a farm. »
Jennifer herself has already been to Russia for a cat. A little over a year ago, she adopted Stalin. “I moved for a breeding male who carries a rare coat color gene. It’s a little challenge that I set myself, to have a kitten with this white dress sprinkled with black. She believed it, during the last litter, but it was not the case. Maybe the next one?
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