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Before You Buy a Cat From a "Cat for Sale" Ad Follow These Guidelines

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Photo of Bengal Cats Itsy Bitsy and Buster

Rescued Bengal Kittens

Photo Credit: © Blissful Beader

Don't be blindly taken in by "Cats for Sale" ads you see on the Internet, especially when you are looking for a purebred cat. Even if you are just looking for a pet, you should do your homework first. And if your goal is to eventually become a breeder, it is even more important that you know what you're doing before blindly signing a contract of sale. While some responsible, legitimate breeders post ads on the Internet, backyard breeders post many more. Follow these guidelines when looking through those "cat for sale" ads.

Know Something About the Cat Breed Before Buying From a "Cats for Sale" Ad

Okay, maybe you fell in love with the look of a particular breed and can't wait to buy a Ragdoll, Manx, or other breed cat. If you don't know the breed standard and profile, you may be disappointed when your cat comes home home, especially if you harbor hidden hopes of eventually becoming a breeder.

Even if you are only looking for a pet cat, it is important to know more about both the personality of a given breed, and more importantly, the potential genetic defects of that breed. E.g., some breeds have genetic spinal problems - another reason to avoid "kitten mill" cats in "Cats for Sale Ads.

Search the "Cats for Sale" Ads Online But Buy Close to Home

There are millions of Cats for Sale links on Google. Many of these are "aggregate sites" where anyone can post an ad. Some of these are better than others, and are searchable by both breed and location. However, you'll strike out more often than not. When perusing these ads, look first to see if the breeder/seller has a personal website. The most reputable ones will, and you can look there for much of the information you'll need. You'll also get a good idea about how versed the seller is about that breed. Score high points for membership in a breed club, as well as indications of his or her showing activity.

Better yet, look for breed clubs listed on the major registration associations' web sites, or from a web site such as Fanciers Breeder Referral List(FBRL).

Visit the Breeder's Cattery Before Purchasing from a "Cats for Sale" Ad

I would not purchase a pedigreed cat without personally inspecting the premises of the breeder's facility. This is one of the main reasons to buy close to home. Is it scrupulously clean, with a minimum of odor? Are the studs kept separate from the queens? Note: there may be a slight odor of urine, since whole male cats do tend to spray. If the cattery is in a home, do the cats appear to be comfortable and happy? Do they greet you with a "meow" or run for the nearest cover?

Ask to see the breeding stock. If you are buying a kitten, ask to see the parents. Do they appear to be healthy, clean, and well-socialized? (Since male cats are sometimes loaned out to stud, the male may not be present.) Are females in heat kept separate from the whole males?

Questions to Ask the Breeder

You can rather quickly weed out "kitten mill" breeders with these probing questions:
  • How many litters a year do you produce?
    The more litters produced for sale, the more likely this is a BYB.
  • Do you require a non-refundable deposit?
    A "yes" is a red flag. Responsible breeders will ordinarily allow a full deposit refund up until the time of delivery of the cat or kitten.
  • Are your pet quality kittens spayed and neutered?
    Responsible breeders will not sell a " whole" kitten.
  • How young a kitten can I buy?
    Reputable breeders will usually not sell a kitten until it is 12 weeks old. Kittens need this time with their mother cats to learn socializing skills, and to fully wean themselves from their mother's nipple.
  • What is your policy on returning kittens?
    Look for refund rather than exchange, especially for genetic defects or contagious disease.
  • Can you provide me with references?
    Look for actual signed letters from previous buyers

More Questions When Buying a "Show Quality" Cat or Kitten

  • Do you belong to a breed club?
    Again, most good breeders are active in breed clubs and breed rescue organizations.
  • Do you show your cats? What is their championship status?
    Look for a "yes" answer here plus show credentials.
  • Do you provide mentoring for show quality kittens?
    A "no" reply is a red flag. Responsible breeders follow the kittens they sell to make sure the buyer is well-trained before showing or attempting to breed. The last thing they want is to sell to a potential kitten mill breeder.
  • Are your breeding stock/kittens screened for breed-specific genetic defects?
    As an example, Persian cats are routinely screened for PKD. This is a must for certain breeds.

Documents to Review Before Signing Anything

You have the right to see all the documentation promised before signing a contract. Ask for copies of:

  • The written contract
    Read the fine print carefully - it's a binding agreement. Make sure it contains a " no-declaw" clause. (Declawed cats are ineligible to show.) It also will be a guideline to the reputability of the breeder. Kitten mill breeders are not concerned with the fate of the kittens they sell. They are strictly in it "for the money."
  • Registration papers
    In the case of kittens, you'll get a "litter registration."
  • Pedigree
    For show quality kittens look for championship status in their linege.
  • Veterinary Health Certificate
    Including immunization and spay-neuter records for pet quality kittens.
  • Written health guarantee
    This should contain the refund/exchange policy in case return of the cat becomes necessary.

Your Successful "Cat for Sale" Purchase

I hope you will consider adopting a shelter cat rather than buying from a "cats for sale" ad. Shelter cats make wonderful pets, and many shelters have mixed breeds available or purebreds given up for one reason or another.

However, if you are absolutely determined to get a pedigreed cat, you will have much better success in pursuing those "cats and kittens for sale" ads by following these guidelines. Before doing that, though, do check for breed rescue organizations. You may have one in a city near you. In either case, best of luck with your new cat or kitten. You might be interested in enrolling in my online tutorials:

Your First Cat Tutorial
Kitten Care Course: Online

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