For the love of cats

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 00:00 |
Juliet Muchira holds a cat as she explains how she runs her cattery business. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

A passion for caring for felines inspired Juliet Karimi Muchira to set up a cattery to give cat lovers a chance to own a beloved pet.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

There are no limits to the doors that passion can open, and for Juliet Karimi Muchira, 30, it was passion for cats.

Even as a little girl, she was already drawn to the pets. At six years old, she had a cat she had to see before she slept every night, and which she would carry everywhere.

She did not know yet that she would, years on, own one of the best catteries in Kenya. 

“I always loved cats, so I always had cats in the house, but they would eventually go out and never come back.

Dogs ate some of them, others were found dead and I wouldn’t know what killed them.

I was so heartbroken and I started looking for a cat that could not go out, an indoor cat, that cannot climb trees and walls,” says Juliet, who was born and raised in Kiandumu, a small village in Kirinyaga county to parents who were both farmers. 

After high school, her parents could not raise the fees  for her to  further her studies, so she was forced to join them in the farming business.

In 2011, she moved to Nairobi in search for greener pastures and was lucky to get a job as a shop attendant.

Two years later she got married and had to move to Kiambu with her husband, where she set up her own shop in 2014, with the savings and experience from the previous business. 

Even as she ran the shop, her dream of owning a cattery was still alive. Her inspiration to start cat breeding was born out of her love for cats and desire to bring a new breed to cat lovers. 

Follow up

“I came across this Persian breed on the internet. I began looking for it but could not find a pure breed locally; that’s when I decided to import them.

Some kittens at Juliet’s cattery. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

I decided to breed them for those who would like to have one, but could not find them locally.

I wanted to bring something new to cat lovers, not just the ones we are used to,” shares Juliet. 

So in 2017, she started by importing three Persians cats, a male from South Africa and two females from Ukraine.

Early last year, she built a cattery- Juliepaws, registered under Cat Fanciers Association, the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. 

“I imported purebred Persians with the pedigree and from good lines. They cost me about Sh1.2 million.

At Cat Fanciers Association, you cannot register a cat if you don’t have the lines of the father and mother, from great, great, great grandparents and so on; no mixed breed only pure ones.

Its main office is in Ohio, and  I registered under them because in Kenya, unlike dogs, there are no organisations for cats, and I needed to do a legitimate business.

I would really love if at some point in Kenya we have such organisations,” says the entrepreneur.

A purebred registered Persian cat goes for between Sh160,000 and Sh190, 000 at Juliepaws.

The price also depends on whether it’s a pet or a breeding cat. They sell breeding cats to verified breeders only and don’t do in breeding, just pure lines.

A Persian cat can get from two to six kittens at once, but the kittens are very delicate and need a lot of care for them to survive. You can get from a litter of six kittens only two will survive.

“Persian cat is a rare breed in the country, so most Kenyans who don’t know about it and don’t understand how it can be this pricey.

There is demand for Persian cats here, but the market is still growing. We have many competitors, but I am the only registered pedigreed and recognised cattery in the country.

Before we give out our kittens to new homes, we vet the owners and make sure they can take good care of the cats and the responsibility that comes with it. We also do a follow up on the cats,” she shares.

This line of business is not without challenges, some including high cost of vet services, of maintenance and of cat food and supplements. 

Her business could not be a success without the support of the vets who have been working with them, the food suppliers as well as her husband who has been a strong pillar in this business.

“In this line of business, I have learned to always focus on what you are doing, and your past cannot determine your future.

Anything can be possible if you put your mind to it. I have clients from all over Kenya who love the cats and I have to travel constantly to make the deliveries,” says Juliet.

Fortunately forJuliet, she is not fazed by myths and misconceptios about the felines she takes care of. 

“I don’t believe in myths people hold about cats. What I know is they are like any another animal a person can keep, I really love cats and I don’t think I can ever stop keeping them no matter what, maybe when I am too old to look after them.

They are part of my family, they are like my children,” she says in conclusion.

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