Abirwood Birmans

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am interested in an Abirwood kitten?
Call (217 673-6661) or email us at abirwood@yahoo.com. We are always happy to tell you about our Birmans. Be prepared for us to ask you some questions. Our Birmans are our babies and we want to do our best to make sure they go to loving homes where they will be treated with as much care and devotion as they are here. We will want to know about any prior experiences you have had with Birmans or cats in general. We would like to know about your lifestyle and will ask questions such as "Do you work outside the home? Do you currently have pets? If so, what kind and how many? Do you have children? If so, what are their ages? Do you travel frequently? If so, who will take care of your kitty while you are away?"

We also encourage you to ask US questions. We think it's important for you to feel good about the environment in which your new kitten has grown up. We prefer that you visit our cattery to see first hand how we raise our kittens.

How can I be sure my kitten is healthy?
Health and temperament are our top priorities. We sell all of our cats and kittens with a health guarantee. We urge our kitten buyers to take their new arrival to their own vet within 72 hours of taking baby home. By confirming that you received a healthy kitten, the health guarantee part of our contract is validated.

We do not take our kittens out to cat shows to sell them, thereby exposing them to airborn diseases. We prefer for you to come and visit our cattery, see how your kitten has been raised, and see for yourself the condition of our cats and kittens. Frequently, you can even "meet the parents".

What is the difference between a pet and a show cat? Will I get an inferior cat as a pet?
Absolutely not! Most people cannot tell the difference between pet and show cats. Sometimes just the markings on the feet can make the difference between a pet and a top show cat. Very often the difference is much more subtle. There is a one hundred point standard for the perfect Birman. Points are assigned for each trait such as shape of the head, chin, muzzle, ear size and placement, eyes (shape, color, and placement), body size and condition, color, and markings. A cat with perfect markings may be a pet because his ears are too tall. Or perhaps his nose doesn't have the characteristic roundness. Pet quality is never determined by health.

Why do Birmans and other purebred cats cost so much?
Reputable breeders spend much time and money to produce the healthiest, highest quality cats they can. We maintain a constant working relationship with a highly reputable local veterinarian and his dedicated staff. The costs of routine veterinary care and vaccinations, as well as emergency care when needed, add up quite rapidly. Most breeders have special facilities to house many of their cats. If a breeder does not maintain their own stud cats, they must go to another cattery for stud service. A typical stud service is the price of a pet kitten. Conscientious breeders regularly compete in cat shows to stay abreast of what constitutes good quality, and to meet with other breeders in order to discuss current issues in a variety of feline topics. An entry fee for one cat in a single show is typically $60.00--sometimes more. Breeders most often show two to four cats and kittens at a time. Travel expenses are always necessary since cat shows are usually a weekend event requiring a hotel, mileage, and eating out. Most breeders have a full time job and still clean and disinfect their cattery and litter boxes on a regular basis. Cats need regular grooming and handling. Kittens require extra handling for proper socialization. Premium cat foods and litter, though costly, are staples in our cattery as we feel it is well worth the investment to insure the highest quality of health and nutrition for your future pet. And as in most businesses, advertising is another necessary expense.

Why don't breeders let their kittens go to new homes when they are eight weeks old?
Little kittens are definitely appealing. We understand that you want to get your kitten when it's a cute and cuddly baby, however, that is not in the best interest of the kitten.....or for YOU in the long run! Kittens need time to allow their immune systems to develop before being challenged. Moving, adapting to a new family, adjusting to a new environment, and leaving mother and siblings behind are all very stressful for a kitten. Your kitten has a much better chance of maintaining good health if she can meet those demands with a well developed immune system. In addition, kittens learn what we call "kitty manners" during their third and fourth month. They need to be with their mom long enough for mother to set limits on their rough and tumble play. When kittens are tiny, they are allowed to play with mom's tail, chew on her ears and whiskers, and climb on her. As the kitten matures, mother begins to establish limits and tells her kittens "no" with a growl or a swat for those same behaviors that she tolerated when the kittens were tiny. Kittens also learn in play with littermates that a certain level of play aggression can be painful. Just as children learn socially acceptable behaviors from parents and peers, kittens learn acceptable behavior from each other and their mother. A kitten that has been with its family until at least the age of fourteen weeks will be a much better adjusted adult cat. And THAT is the payoff for YOU.

Will a four month old kitten bond with me?
YES! Birmans crave human attention. A Birman will bond with you at age four months or four years! Regardless of their age, Birmans love people and want to be with their human companions. Just try hiding from your Birman and see how quickly she finds you!

Is it important to seek a breeder who raises their kittens "underfoot"?
When you see that a breeder has kittens "raised underfoot", it indicates that the kittens run freely in their home rather than being caged. A kitten who has run-of-the-house privileges will probably be more confident than one who has spent its life caged. However, veterinary experts in the area of feline health and cattery management tell us that it is best to keep cats segregated for health reasons and to lessen stress. Cats in the wild seclude themselves and their kittens until the kittens are about six weeks of age to protect them from predators as well as other cats.

Our queens are allowed to deliver and care for their kittens in privacy. Mothers are less stressed when they know their kittens are protected from other cats. New immune systems are not ready to handle the challenge of contact with other cats, even healthy ones, but especially those cats who are constantly exposed to airborne illnesses at cat shows. In their own room, kittens do not have the opportunity to fall victim to the dangers of reclining furniture, appliances, doors, electrical cords, etc. Our kittens run, play, climb, explore, and return to their "nest" at will in the safety of their own room--much the way a good parent allows a child to play in a fenced yard to avoid the danger of traffic. After their first vaccination, they are allowed to interact with other cats, and eventually are "raised underfoot" during their last several weeks with us. Our kittens adapt quickly to the noise and activity of "people life". They sleep in our bed, they nap on our laps, and engage in running and chasing games with the adult cats. They even watch birds and bunnies from our screened-in porch. We feel that we are providing the best balance of protection and socialization.

Do Birmans get along with other pets?
Yes. Your Birman will be lonely while you are away. He will prefer the company of at least one other pet, so we urge people to consider getting two kittens together. We do understand, though, if your situation prohibits you from having a second pet. A Birman kitten can also establish a friendship with a cat, a dog, or even a rabbit already in residence with you. Although the predatory instinct persists, your Birman will even enjoy the company of a caged bird. Outdoor bird feeders and squirrels are a constant source of entertainment for your kitty.

Do Birmans shed?
Yes. All cats shed. Proper nutrition and regular grooming will keep shedding to a minimum. Most people find that Birmans actually shed less than other breeds.

Do Birmans require a lot of grooming?
No. Birmans are single coated cats and do not have an undercoat. Therefore, the coat is non-matting. A quick combing or brushing once or twice a week is all the attention that a Birman's coat needs. Many people groom their Birman daily as an enjoyable bonding time for both owner and kitty. Bathing is not required, especially if the kitty is brushed regularly.

What if I have a question or problem with my Birman?
I want you and your kitten to be happy! I will always take calls and answer your questions even AFTER you purchase a kitten from us. If I don't have an answer, I'll do my best to research and find out for you, or steer you to the help you need. Since it's best to avoid problems from the beginning, I offer new owners advice and protocols on feeding, litter boxes, scratching posts, and for introduction of a new kitty to a pet already established in your home. I also encourage new owners to keep in touch with us throughout the life of their Birman. We plan our breeding program with feedback about health and development of our babies.

It is very rewarding for us to get progress reports, updates, and photos from families with our cats.

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