Many prospective cat owners choose to purchase a kitten from a breeder after researching which breed will work best for their family and lifestyle, amongst other considerations. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned buyers are increasingly becoming targets of scammers leaving them out of pocket and heartbroken. We’ve put together 5 simple steps you can follow to reduce your chances of falling prey to a kitten scammer.
1. Watch out for warning signs
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is! Keep an eye out for these warning signs:
- The “breeder” doesn’t ask pertinent questions about your family, lifestyle and living arrangements. Genuine breeders have a strong interest in knowing where their kittens are going and if they are going to be a match for your family and lifestyle or not- they will be asking plenty of questions and may even ask you to complete a formal questionnaire.
- They request and charge for unnecessary documentation (such as CITES certificate).
- You’re asked to purchase a temperature-controlled carrier and told you will be refunded once the carrier is returned. These carriers don’t exist and are just another way of parting you from your money!
- Mismatched info– they may mention that the breed they are offering has been tested for a breed-specific disease, but in reality, the disease doesn’t exist in that breed. For example, if a “breeder” might advertise that their Burmese are PKD-free, however, PKD is an inherited (genetic) disease most common in Persians.
- Prices well below the market-rate for a purebred kitten. Goedkoop is duurkoop!
- Kittens are advertised as available immediately. Good breeders require prospective owners to join a waiting list and they are then screened via questionnaire as mentioned above. Once the litter arrives, they are then carefully matched to a kitten best fitting their personality and desires. Waiting lists are often full and it can take quite some time to receive your new baby.
- A breeder advertising more than one or two breeds for sale. Most legitimate breeders will focus on a particular breed or type. Occasionally some breeders may have more than one breed but start asking questions when you see someone offering seven or eight different breeds from the same cattery!
- Poor spelling and grammar in adverts.
- Incorrect use of terminology. The cat world has its own technical terms. For example, coat length, colours and patterns have set standards and are often referred to differently in each breed. You can find a list of terminology on the CFSA website under “Standard of Points”.
- Asking for payment to a cellphone or for payment with immediate clearance.
- Communication only by email.
- Unwillingness to let you visit the cattery. This is a difficult one if they are in a different geographic area and of course with Covid-19 in our midst but try to get a feel for this. Ask about having someone visit on your behalf. If they offer to ship a kitten to you overnight, run a mile!
- Scammers put pressure on you to make your purchase quickly. Genuine breeders mostly have waiting lists and will carefully select new owners without any pressure. The final decision is up to you and there will be no forcing from the breeder.
- Asking for copy of ID– some breeders do request this, but scammers will insist. They will then use your ID in their next scam.
2. Do Your Research
The internet is your friend here! Having a good website is not enough. If you’ve seen kittens advertised be sure to look for “social proof” too. Does the breeder have any active social media profiles (such as Facebook)? Can you find any reviews for their cattery? Google their name. Take a look at Hello Peter. There are numerous groups on Facebook where you can confirm if the breeder you are considering is legitimate (SA Reg. Cat Breeders & #scamalert, SA CAT LOVERS & BREEDERS, The South African Cat Council Group, All Registered Cat Breeds South Africa Group).
3. Check the breeder and cattery’s registration
4. Ask for photos of the parents and kittens
Ask for photos of the parents and kittens. Then do a reverse Google image search to ensure that the photos you’ve received are unique and not just stock images from the internet.
5. Double- and triple-check the email addresses used for correspondence
Double- and triple-check the email addresses used for correspondence. Scammers will often target a legitimate breeder by hacking their emails and then responding to you without the legitimate breeder even knowing. In these cases, the scammer will intercept your email and reply to you from a completely different address.
We truly hope that these tips will have you prepared and aware of possible scams. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any tips you’d like to add.
Jane Goble of Feline Fun Factory and Feline Fun Cattery is well-known in both local and international cat fancies and is an experienced All Breeds Cat Judge with many years of experience behind her through her own breeding cattery (Mela Burmese). Although not strictly...
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