Via Juliette Cardinale
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Would you spend a minimum wage on a cat? Presented like this, the idea can be shocking. However, some highly sought after breeds sell for more than that. In Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers (Orne), Jennifer Guenier owns these precious cats: some Ragdolls, but especially the Maine Coon.
“On average, a Maine Coon sells for as little as €1,000. But a cat with a very rare coat color can sell for as much as a nice car,” says Ragdollywood & Coon Cattery breeder.
The bill can go up to €10,000 for a cat with a quality pedigree, especially if it is intended to breed.
On her property, in 2022, she has “15 fertile cats”, in addition to cats, dogs, sheep that have been spayed… Animal lover, 44-year-old Jennifer Guenier, has been killed long attracted to breeding.
I’ve always loved cats, I’ve saved several, but I dream of having a purebred 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 the cat Ragdoll. “They are soft and cuddly, I already have a male and two females. And then she discovered the Maine Coon with Medusa, her first child.
“I really fell in love with this wild creature with its distinctive appearance. It is a very sweet cat, perfect for children. Today, his livestock is mainly made up of Maine Coons.
They have a habit of being close to dogs, they are very sociable. This is usually what customers are looking for.
The distinctive feature of this breed is its wingspan. The largest size reaches an average of 12 kg. “We call them gentle giants,” explains Jennifer Guenier.
More than 120 m² for battery
On the ground floor, the entire floor is devoted to cats, i.e. 120 m² divided into several rooms. Different animals live together according to their predestined conditions. “They were not castrated. For example, you cannot put two dominant males together. They risk being violent or marking their territory,” the breeder explains.
Each room is linked to a secure outdoor space. “A terrace surrounded by wire mesh goes around the ground floor, and groups of cats in turn can approach it. I opened the door to each room in a rotation for a few hours. »
Breeding is not simply about taking care of cats. Jennifer attended a training course, the certificate of competency in cattle ranching (CCAD), to gain legal and genetics knowledge.
There is a real job of selection to create the big cats that correspond to the need. Maine Coons typically have a square snout, high feathered ears, and muscles. I like them long, slim, tall legs.
Jennifer’s cats are registered in the Loof, the official book of feline origins, which is the pedigree register of purebred cats born in France.
A delicate animal
Through forced genetic selection, the breed becomes fragile, and a litter can fluctuate between one kitten or many young. Last year, one of these cats gave birth to 9 kittens.
You can never be sure that the pregnancy will be complete, I have to ensure the comfort and health of the cat at all times.
The pregnant cats live with the family, upstairs. “They gave birth in the maternity ward, a room next to my bedroom. Therefore, I can supervise and support mothers. They stayed there for about four weeks with the kittens. »
After that, mothers and their babies are transferred to daycare. “They trudged into a fully furnished room. »
All this, with a very strict health protocol. “The Maine Coon is a delicate and sensitive cat breed. To avoid pollution, we wear blouses, shoes, etc. to enter the room. The kittens are just vaccinated,” continued Jennifer.
Newborn babies require a lot of attention. Jennifer Guenier explains: “Especially the last two births.
The mother does not produce milk. I had to bottle-feed them every two hours for 4 days, then hand-feed them for a few weeks before they fed themselves. Fortunately, the mother did not neglect them.
“I do not separate kittens from their mothers until they are at least 14 weeks old. They had to be weaned, but the mother also had time to raise them. »
Thousands of kilometers have gone
Some don’t hesitate to travel thousands of kilometers to find a cat… or bring breeders for them. Recently, Jennifer Guenier went to Guadeloupe to deliver a Maine Coon to a customer who loved it. In this case, the buyer bears the shipping and travel costs.
All caged cats are fed a “raw food” diet, i.e. raw meat. Each part corresponds to that of a prey.
“Cats weighing less than 7 kg can walk in the cabin. I would rather take care of it than call the carrier, to ensure the welfare of the animal. Before embarking on such a trip, the cat must familiarize himself with the transport box and the car. »
Before selling an animal, Jennifer Guenier researched potential customers. “I always discuss the time to know who I will entrust each baby to. »
Especially if the cat is destined to breed. It was then sold for a higher price, and Jennifer assured the breeder of the seriousness. “You have to be able to manage, it’s not easy to have a farm. »
Jennifer herself once went to Russia because of a cat. Over a year ago, she adopted Stalin. “I have transferred a male breeder that carries the rare coat color gene. It was a little challenge that I set myself, to have a kitten with this white dress covered in black. She believed it, in the last litter, but it wasn’t. Could be the next?
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