The price.

What does a kitten cost?
If you haven’t bought a kitten for a while you might be surprised by the cost of a pedigree kitten. The Tonkinese is not a ‘money’ breed (nor are the Siamese or Burmese) and this means that the breeder makes basically no profit on a litter of kittens. On the contrary, we usually make a loss. If you add in the cost of keeping breeding cats through the year when they’re not having kittens (they only have one litter a year), then there’s no way you could make a profit from selling your kittens. There are some breeders who 'breed for profit' and the only way to do this is to cut back on food and veterinary care or hike your prices over the norm. I have seen cats bred - or exploited - this way and sometimes have had to pick up the pieces when someone has bought a kitten from this sort of breeder, and frankly it sickens me.

If you have come here for information about Tonkinese because you have seen an advert and you're not sure it is genuine, please visit this
independent information page:

There are ‘money’ breeds such as the Egyptian Mau, Bengal or Selkirk Rex, which started out expensive because the breeders had to import their initial lines from abroad (usually America) and have had to invest heavily in order to create enough viable bloodlines for the breed to survive. Stud fees are often very high, particularly for imported cats who may be paying off the cost of 6 months of quarantine on top of their purchase and shipping cost. They remain expensive until the breed is well established, and sometimes continue to be costly simply because if people will pay high prices for that breed, then the breeders think, why not?

Cat breeding is considered a hobby by the tax-man, but dog breeding is taxable as it is treated as a business. Consider this:

The dog breeder usually sells a pup at about 6 weeks of age, it’s barely weaned, not litter trained, and it has no vaccinations. It hasn’t been eating the breeder out of house and home for 8 weeks or more, and it comes with almost nothing except a pedigree. It’s quite likely that the breeder has their own male dog who has fathered the litter, as male dogs are not routinely castrated the way male cats have to be to stop them from spraying urine. So they haven’t had to build, heat and maintain stud quarters, nor have they had to pay any stud fees. If you’re buying a young gun-dog, even untrained you may pay £3000 upwards for a pup.

Reputable cat breeders do not sell kittens until they are at least 13 weeks old, by which time they have been weaned for weeks; they are house-trained, registered, and fully vaccinated. The last half of those 13 weeks has cost the breeder dearly in washing bedding, huge quantities of food and litter, and finally the heavy cost of primary and booster vaccinations. A good breeder will also provide their kitten with a trousseau of goodies: bedding, food, litter and toys, to help them settle in their new homes. Even before the litter has been born the breeder has had to pay for blood tests and DNA tests for inherited diseases to ensure the queen is healthy before taking her to stud, and has had to pay stud fees (since very few cat breeders keep their own studs, and when they do they have the heavy cost of housing them). The mating doesn’t always work, so the breeder may have had to pay blood tests and stud fees more than once.

Please note: there are disreputable breeders selling kittens under age, unregistered and unvaccinated. Please do not buy from these breeders as the kittens are usually not what they are advertised to be, they are often sickly, and many die before maturity. These breeders will not take any responsibility for a kitten after sale, and you may find yourself with massive vets fees and no way to hold the breeder responsible. If you want a healthy, happy baby to bring home and enjoy for many years, don’t cut corners with your first decision. GCCF registration will offer you some disciplinary recourse if something goes wrong but most GCCF breeders will never dump you if something goes wrong, they will take the kitten back, refund you, or help you through any difficulties. Other registries do not have any disciplinary process for breeders selling sickly or under-age kittens.

Recently we have seen an upsurge in massively over-priced unregistered kittens on websites such as Pets4Homes, taking advantage of the shortage of kittens to con people into overpaying. These kittens are usually not Tonkinese and are almost never sold with the full course of vaccinations and verifiable paperwork. Only a kitten registered with a reputable registry comes with proof that it is a pedigree kitten (anyone can forge a pedigree, but registrations cannot be forged in the same way. Paperwork can always be checked with the GCCF if you have any doubts).

A pedigree kitten raised as well as possible will have been fed on high-quality foods and may have cost the breeder upwards of £850 (including all the stud fees etc.) to get it to the point where it is ready to leave home. That’s assuming the breeder hasn’t had to take the queen or kittens to the vet for any reason during pregnancy or rearing. A scan during pregnancy might be £400 or more, a caesarian section will cost upwards of £1000 - it’s always out of hours of course, and always an emergency. A mild tummy bug running through the kittens might mean a visit to the vet with 8 babies and their mother, and the way the kittens can tear about the place and play wild games with each other minor injuries sometimes happen that require a visit to the vet. A cautious breeder will always check with the vet if they have any concerns, even if it turns out to be nothing. All this costs money.

In between breeding, the queen rests for a year, and she still needs food and care just the same as when she has kittens. Entire cats can eat as much as four times what a neuter eats. Usually home-breeders don’t consider this as part of the cost of breeding, as their cats are much-loved pets all the year round, and there would be normal costs in keeping any cat. There are some conditions which only occur in un-neutered females, so there are some veterinary costs that you wouldn’t normally have to pay with a neutered pet.

So you may feel as if you're paying a lot of money for a kitten, but it’s not really any more than it has cost to rear it, unless you're being conned by someone selling a kitten under 13 weeks of age or overcharging.

If you think you can’t afford a pedigree price, then perhaps you need to consider the basic cost of keeping a cat. Any cat can get ill or suffer an injury and vets fees can be pretty high, particularly in major cities. Insurance can cover major costs, but you will still have to pay the excess, which is usually around £58-160 per illness, and now also a percentage of the charges. If you would struggle to find the purchase price of a pedigree kitten, then a pedigree cat — or any cat — may not be for you.

People sometimes ask me if I will offer a discount if they buy two kittens. This assumes I am making a profit, but
I do not, so is it reasonable to ask me to take a loss just for you? Unfortunately they don't cost any less to breed and rear if you buy two together. I once asked a fellow breeder what she said when people asked for a discount for a pair. She said she would answer, 'Yes, which one would you like me to stop feeding?'

My kittens are available to their new homes at 13 weeks of age (7 days after their second vaccination), fully vaccinated, with food and litter for their first two weeks, toys, bedding, GCCF registration and starter insurance cover.

A recent review by a group of Tonkinese breeders recommended that registered kittens raised in accordance with GCCF rules should be sold at £850. This takes into account all the costs involved in breeding with 'best practice'; it does not include the cost of caring for cats throughout the year when they are not breeding, or the breeder's time. This price does not represent a profit to the breeder, it only covers the cost of breeding (blood tests required before taking to stud; DNA tests for diseases that could be inherited; stud fees; veterinary care associated only with breeding; full course of vaccinations; registrations; food and litter from weaning (which starts around 3-4 weeks of age) to 13 weeks; consumables and additional bedding, toys, environment (additional heating); cleaning and washing; breeding insurance; stud housing/heating).

Selling unregistered kittens at less than 13 weeks at this price would be unreasonable. If you're going to pay the full whack, pay for the real thing, and certainly don't overpay! Please be very wary of fake kitten ads, bad breeders and scams, which have proliferated recently. Never put down a deposit on a kitten you have not seen in the flesh — photographs are not verifiable. If you put down a deposit, do it with a third party so that you can get it back if the kitten doesn't materialise (Pets4Homes has started offering this service). Ideally do it through PayPal or a credit card so you can reclaim the money if it turns out to be a scam.

Tonkinese are in huge demand and there are only a few breeders. If you can't find a reputable Tonkinese breeder with kittens available and you feel you cannot wait, it would be better to go for another breed (such as the Burmese) than to buy an unregistered kitten from a breeder who is not verifiable.