Red Flags for the cat Buyer


The internet has made the entire world a global marketplace... and it is no different for cat breeders. With the explosion of cattery websites, both pet and show cat buyers alike can choose from an unending number of kittens from breeders around the world, just by surfing the 'net.

So, since more and more kitten buyers purchase a kitten from photos rather than actually visiting a breeder's home, how can a buyer protect himself from unscrupulous breeders?

Regardless of whether you are looking for the perfect pet kitten or a phenomenal show cat, you need to learn how to recognize some of the red flags that mean Buyer Beware!

Red Flag # 1: No Contract or Guarantees

No one can pledge that your new kitten will be flawless, in perfect health and will fulfill all your dreams. However, you do want to purchase from a breeder who will provide you a written contract with some reasonable guarantees. Do not buy from any breeder who does not provide a contract with a basic guarantee and clearly stated conditions and return policy. These documents are for the protection of the buyer as well as the seller and the cat/kitten.

Red Flag # 2: I'll Meet You At Denny's

 If you are considering purchasing from a breeder within driving distance, visit their home. Do not buy from any breeder who refuses access to their home or cattery. If they want to meet you in the Wal-Mart parking lot or someplace along the highway, it should make you suspicious of the conditions in which they may be keeping their cats. If you are purchasing an expensive show cat, fly to pick it up if possible - so you can see and handle it before deciding to purchase.

Red Flag # 3: It's a Pet Kitten But You Can Have a Litter or Two

Many reputable breeders spay or neuter pet kittens before they leave the cattery. Good breeders feel this is the smart way to insure that the kitten's best interests are served. A breeder who is willing to sell you a pet kitten that you can use for breeding does not care about improving their breed. They may be too lazy to take the kitten to the vet before selling them or too cheap to pay for the surgery. In either case, this is not the type of attitude you want in your kitten's breeder.

Red Flag #4: Selling Too Young

Do not buy from breeders who place kittens in new homes any younger than 12 weeks. Kittens are too young to undergo the stress of changing homes at such a tender age. They have not even completed their vaccinations! The earliest a kitten normally should go to its new home is 12 weeks.

Red Flag # 5: Beware Volume Discounts

Do not buy or deal with any breeder who offers you an obviously pregnant female cat. Any breeder who would consider stressing a mother-to-be by having her adjust to a new owner and new environment at such a delicate time obviously does not care about the cat's well-being. If they don't care about their cats, they won't care about the buyer once they have your money.

Red Flag #6: Gossip & Bad-Mouthing

Beware the breeder who says lots of negative things about other people or their cats. People who delight in gossiping about other breeders will also have nasty things to say about you when your back is turned.

Red Flag # 7: No Experience Required

Beware the person who is offering to sell you a Regional Winning Supreme Grand Champion quality cat - especially if (1) You are a newbie and (2) They have never actually had a RW SGC winning cat. Caring breeders will likely want their worthy cats to have the best chance of realizing their show potential, and that would not be in the hands of an unproven newcomer to the cat fancy. A breeder who tells you they have a RW SGC quality cat but who has never had a big winning cat is either delusional or selling you a line.

Be Sensible, Not Emotional

How do you want your kitten to be raised and treated by a breeder? Once you decide, find a breeder who meets those expectations and expect them to offer their advice and mentorship for the life of that cat. Use your best judgment and be logical when assessing from whom you are going to purchase your kitten. If the situation is not good, you will see red flags. Pay attention to your instincts.

If you find a really good breeder, you may be fortunate enough to make a friend as well as adopt a loving and healthy cat. Good Luck!

Input from Contributor:

When choosing a pet cat or kitten, remember that you are making a commitment to 12 plus years to a new family member. Kittens are babies and need your love and guidance as they grow.

 They will need regular veterinarian visits and proper food to be sure they stay healthy. And you will want to get your kitten/cat from a Reputable Breeder who has assured they had this even before they were born by seeing that the Dam and Sire are taken care of before the pairing of the two. Healthy cats make healthy kittens.

When you have decided on a breeder, visit the home and ask to see the cats and ask questions. Can they give you references from other pet buyers, and other exhibitors/breeders, or permission to ask their veterinarian about their cats?

 Do they test for Hcm, can they show you the records showing the cats are negative; this is where you should start.

 When you are looking at the kittens, are they playful? A kitten that wants to be put down and not held does not mean it is unsocial. Many cats do not want to be felt like they are restrained but would rather sit on your lap when they want to or lay beside you either on the seat next to you or on the back of the chair next to your head when you are sitting. If the kitten is interacting with a toy or a teaser wand with you, this kitten is social. A kitten that sits by itself and closes its eye's and doesn't join in at play with either the other kittens or you may have be a red flag as to something not right with it.
Look at the kitten's physical body, are the eye's clear, no tears or matter in them, nose clear and ears inside look clean? Are the kittens free of flea’s look for flea dirt behind the ears, between the shoulders, and at the base of the tail?

When the kitten stands are the legs straight not bowing, does the stomach look large and bloated, this could mean a sick or wormy kitten. However a kitten that has just eaten a large amount of soft canned food or raw may look full. Ask what they feed and when and how often. You want to know that the kitten you chose has been on a quality food.

 Once you have chosen your new kitten/cat take him or her to your Veterinarian within 48 hours, have them run a virus test and have them examine him or her and if any problems are found, the breeder should have given you a written guarantee against health issues that would be life threatening to the kitten. A good Breeder will guarantee their kittens. When you are buying a pet kitten, these kittens may have a slight fault that would not be of a health issue but would not make them a good show cat or breeder as it may have a fault that is not wanted in reproducing. These kittens or cats will be beautiful and only the trained eye would notice the fault that otherwise the untrained eye would not notice.

 Donna Haynes/BengalIslandcat


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