The Value of Posting Pedigrees for Bengal Breeders

July 2, 2023
by Robyn Paterson

I recently engaged in an online conversation about posting pedigrees. I always thought it was the done thing that responsible breeders posted their pedigrees, but it is shocking to see how infrequently pedigrees are posted on websites.   I wanted to find out why breeders who I know are acting responsibly in their breeding practices were not posting pedigrees.

These were the top four reasons breeders used for not putting their pedigrees on their websites.
1. They help scammers.
2. They are meaningless because there is no DNA verification or public access to information.
3. Pet customers do not care.
4. Because they are mainly used by breeders, they indicate that you are open to or possibly want breeding sales.
There is truth to all of those statements.
Despite the reasons listed above, responsible breeders should still be posting their pedigrees, and here is why:
To the claims that pet customers don't care and they are only valuable for breeders​:​ you reap what you sow. Breeders who don't post pedigrees are less likely to be contacted by pet customers who want to check the pedigrees before buying. Our pedigrees are on our site, and it is not uncommon for a pet buyer to make a statement that indicates they have looked at the pedigree. Breeders may be missing out on potential pet customers who do care about pedigrees simply by not publishing them. We provide a Breeders Assistant pedigree with every kitten. Some customers do not react to it when we go over it, but many do. It is a talking point. We talk about the cats in the pedigree that are ours. We tell their stories, and we also go over the importance of registering their Bengal cat. Just today, a client came into our house and said, "I can't believe I'm here, and I get to meet the moms and dads and Patience." Her enthusiasm was heartfelt. Pet customers are your fans; give them a reason to become a fanatic by making the cats real before they ever meet them. Regarding the concern that they will attract breeding sales, put your breeding sale policy on your website. Then there is no question about whether or not you sell breeders.
While there is truth to the argument that pedigrees are meaningless without DNA verification of their accuracy, it is not a justifiable reason not to post pedigrees. I hope that one day we will have a registry that will offer DNA verification of registration and public access to information. But we don't have that now. The system we have is what we have. I understand that it is easy to falsify registrations and incorrectly register cats, but as a pedigree cat breeder, I have to believe in the system, or else there is no point in registering my cats. Our justice systems, regardless of where one lives, are all imperfect. But if we all were to stop believing in our justice systems, then all of society would fall into chaos. Society functions based on a collected belief in something. Believing in these different systems is what makes us human. From the book Sapiens: "Imagined orders enable humans to trust other humans because they believe in the same stories and follow the same rules... . This trust enables humans to cooperate with strangers on a colossal scale, never before seen in history. . . Money is probably the most successful story ever told. . . It has no objective value… but then you have these master storytellers: the big bankers, the finance ministers… and they come, and they tell a very convincing story. 'Look this piece of paper, it is actually worth 10 bananas'… and it works. Try doing that with a chimpanzee – it won't work!" Honor-based cat registries are the imagined order the cat world has agreed to operate by. If we do not have a collective agreement to believe in them, pedigrees are meaningless, and we should all stop registering our cats.
Some argue that they don't put pedigrees on websites due to scammers, but the very fact that scammers steal pedigrees supports the idea that pet customers care. If it wasn't worth the scammers' time, they wouldn't do it. It isn't easy to know how to function in a worldwide market. Humans evolved to interact with about 150 other humans. We interact in a society of billions. Scammers wouldn't exist in a community of 150 because they could not hide behind anonymity. Still, in a society of billions, they do as they please without ever having to look their victims in the face. When we are violated, it hurts. But as a group of responsible breeders, if we do not normalize pedigrees on our websites, we make it easier for ignorance to grow because we aren't using them to teach the public the purpose of a pedigree. If more of us don't post pedigrees, how will the public ever learn to ask about pedigrees?

Everyone who participated in the discussion seemed to agree that pedigrees are essential to purchasing a breeding cat. What makes them more important to a breeder than to an owner? The only thing the owner who does not care about pedigrees lacks is an understanding of why they should care about them. Posting pedigrees is a public display of your choices. Pedigrees should be used to explain how good breeding choices are being made. They are also a public acknowledgment of the work of the breeders of the cats behind the cat. Posting pedigrees of breeders who you respect enough to buy a cat down from their lineage is a way for responsible breeders to support and acknowledge one another.  

Because I live with a super-human husband who has the strange ability to memorize just about anything he ever sees about cats, he knows pedigrees with just a cat name. If Litter of Bengal kittens was posted once the internet, and Jon saw it, he would remember all the information shared and his observations from that post. It doesn't matter if it was last week or seven years ago. (Yes, I am jealous; I can't remember how old the kittens are.) He can look at a website with nothing but cat names and say exactly how the cats are related; he can tell you what health issues they are connected to and how much countershading is in the pedigree. That is not normal, but it provides me with a vast knowledge I would not have were he not my husband. He sees sites with no two cats to pair that won't be a line breed. There are a lot of pet buyers who know enough to steer clear of father-to-daughter, mother-to-son, and brother-to-sister matings. But if that information is not available to them before purchasing the cat, they may end up with a cat that they otherwise wouldn't have purchased. Responsible breeders can use their pedigrees to show the public that they do not engage in those practices. 

If responsible breeders normalize pedigrees, the public will learn to ask about them if they are not posted. The public will become better educated on what they should start to look for in a pedigree. 

Responsible breeders breed pedigreed cats. It is up to us to value our pedigrees enough to teach the public to value them too.