The breeding animals that you select constitute the basis of your breeding program. So you will want to have good breeding animals. But where do you find them? And what are good breeding animals?
Looking for a good breeding animal starts with looking for a good breeder. But this raises the same questions as above: where do you find a good breeder and what distinguishes a good breeder?
There are no fixed answers to these questions. What one would consider a good breeder, may be deemed a bad breeder by somebody else. But what you should experience with a breeder, is a good feeling! Take the time to get to know the breeder. Visit a couple of times (gives you the chance to see the kittens a couple of times, that is always fun!) and talk with him (her). What are his thoughts about tests, about breeding and all that is involved, how are the cats housed. What is his feeling that you want to breed with his kitten? (Please note: not all breeders allow just anybody to breed with their kittens. Talk this over before you buy the kitten.) If you feel comfortable with each other, then you have made a good start. You don't have to become soulmates, but if your ideas by-and-large agree, then things are falling in place. Do ask for the contract for the kitten, so that you can study it at home. At a next visit you can ask for clarification, and discuss the contract.
Also you can ask other breeders for their opinion on the breeder that you visited. Ask several breeders; one may have a disagreement with the breeder of your kitten, and may therefore give a bad reference. Ask 3 or 4 persons for their opinion. If they all say the same, then you know that the stories are probably true. By the way, a good breeder will also try to get references! Do not be insulted if it turns out that questions were asked about you. The breeder only wants to check whether you told the truth. Also, the breeder can interrogate you when you are visiting. What is your opinion about breeding, what do you know about breeding, about -for instance- genetics, diseases, raising kittens, etc. Some breeders make you feel like you are being challenged by the Spanish Inquisition. But just like you want to know whether you are buying a kitten from a dedicated and sincere breeder, such a good breeder will want to know if he sells the kitten to someone who will be conscientiously and sensibly involved in breeding.
The final choice
OK, you found a good breeder and you want to buy a kitten from him (her). Then the question arises: which kitten do you want? Study the cats that that breeder has. Decide from which cat (or combination) you want a kitten. This does not mean that that is the kitten you will get ... the breeder has his own breeding goals, and together you will have to determine whether your plans harmonize with one another. If this is not the case, then still you may be the better for it: maybe the breeder has better plans than you had. Another possibility is that the breeder likes the plans that you present. But in any case it shows that you thought about what you want.
The selection of which animal you choose can be based on varying criteria. It differs per person, but also depends on the breed that you chose. If you want to breed Maine Coons or Norwegian Forest cats, then it is possible that aside from other considerations, you would also like to have a kitten of a special colour. But if you want to breed Russian Blues, then colour will not be a selection criterion.
A criterion that applies to everybody is: what animals have most breeders in my neighborhood. You will have to cooperate with other breeders regularly to get ahead towards your breeding goal. You will have to buy cats from other breeders, or mate your cat with somebody else's stud. If you buy a kitten that is related to the cats of the breeders in your neighborhood, then you will not easily find a suitable partner for this cat.
Finally: don't take hasty decisions. If everything works out, this kitten will be the founding cat of your breeding programme. That is why you look for the very best kitten that you may get. Reason enough to -if need be- wait half a year or a year for the right kitten, isn't it? You can use that time to further study your breed, and everything that is related to breeding!