Where to buy a cat ?


In the past various veterinary authorities have made strong recommendations to the public about where they should or should not buy a new cat from. These recommendations followed scandalous reports in the '70's  about the neglect and abuse of kittens and puppies in so-called "puppy farms". As a result many countries (including the UK) have now introduced legislation to control establishments involved in the breeding  and also establishments selling animals.

If you are thinking about buying a cat or kitten the first thing to do is to realise the commitment you are going to have to make to look after it quote the National Canine Defence League in the UK - "A dog is for LIFE not just for Christmas" - well the same applies to CATS !!.  See Provet's section on What type of cat should I get ?

There are several possible places you can get a new kitten or an adult cat from :

  1. A neighbour, relative or friend - good idea as you probably know a lot about the background conditions and care of the animal. BUT see Guidelines below
  2. A registered breeder - generally a good idea - if anyone knows how to breed and rear cats properly a registered  breeder should. Still, see Guidelines below
  3. An unregistered breeder - careful - do they really know what they are doing ? Are they just in it for the money. See Guidelines below.
  4. A pet shop (small private concern) - not a bad idea if the kitten or cat has genuinely come from a good source and the pet shop is clean, well run and practices good basic hygiene - see Guidelines below
  5. A pet store (large chain) - not a bad idea if the Pet Store is well run, clean, practices good hygiene and they can give assurances about the origin of the animal. See Guidelines below.
  6. An animal rescue/welfare society. Seems like a good idea because you can "save" a poor unwanted soul which might be "put down" if it isn't claimed. Seems like a good idea because you can give a poor unwanted animal a nice home and the tender loving care that it hasn't had before. BE CAREFUL. Although millions of cats are re-housed from such facilities every year, and millions of owners are happy with their new companions ... the rescue societies can not often guarantee the origins of the animals, nor their health status, nor their behavioural traits. You can inherit a BIG problem by adopting a stray animal however some Charities have a very responsible attitude to this potential problem :
    Kornelia Teelucksingh of the Harlow Branch of Cats Protection writes :  Reputable charities like Cats Protection and the RSPCA have all their cats checked by vets, blood-tested, vaccinated and neutered (and some even microchipped) before they are rehomed. In the rare event that the cat does not fit in with the new owners, the charities will always take it back. They will also pay for any veterinary treatment in the first four weeks in the new home. Cats Protection over the years has taken in a numbers of cats that were supposedly purchased from breeders who "did not want to know" when problems arose.
    See the Guidelines below
  7. A stray you found on the street. NO. NEVER adopt a stray that you find on the street. You should report a stray cat to the local Animal Rescue/Welfare Association. In the UK your local branch the Cat's Protection League and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to animals would be a good place to start - and your local veterinary practice will usually be happy to help as well.  Cats often travel long distances and a "stray" may well have a conscientious owner who is desperate to get their pet back. If it is a genuine stray you may be able to adopt it after efforts to find the owner have failed. BUT see the Guidelines below.

Here are some Guidelines to follow before you buy a kitten or an adult cat. As a general rule you should buy a kitten unless you are prepared to try to change existing behavioural traits that adult cats may already have.

If you follow these Guidelines you should reduce the chances of disappointment with your new companion.

a) Consider your situation first

  1. Do not buy a new cat unless you are sure that the one you get will suit your life style, that you can afford to look after it properly,  and that you have the time to commit to it. See "What type of cat should I get ?"
  2. NEVER buy on impulse - for example, when you see a miserable kitten in a shop window don't rush in and buy it.
  3. Can you afford to look after a cat properly ?
  4. Whilst cats are less demanding than dogs - still consider if you really have got the time to look after a cat properly ?

b) The premises

It is important to be satisfied about the health standards of the establishment that you are buying the cat from :

  1. The most important single Guideline is this : Whenever possible buy from a source that has been recommended to you by an independent person - a friend, neighbour, or member of the family. Someone whose judgment you can trust.
  2. Satisfy yourself that  the premises are clean and tidy. Are the animal's cages or pens clean? Ask to inspect "behind the scenes"
  3. Are the animals themselves clean ?
  4. Is there fresh, clean water available ?
  5. Are animals from different sources kept separately (advisable) or are they mixed together (not desirable as this increases the likelihood of exposure to disease) ?
  6. If you have not been given a personal recommendation about the establishment - ask them to give you the names of three reference sites where you will get a positive endorsement.
  7. Satisfy yourself that the establishment is a registered facility and that it satisfies all local registration requirements. Ask to see their Certificates of Registration.

c) The animal

Buying a sick animal is the worst possible start for you and for your new companion. There are plenty of healthy cats looking for a new home. Think THREE times about the possible consequences before you commit to buying a pet that is ill. This is particularly true if you are going to introduce the animal into a household with young children. They will be heartbroken if you have to take the animal back because of illness, or if it becomes seriously ill.

  1. Never buy a kitten or cat that looks ill, or severely underweight or overweight.
  2. Insist that the vendor has the cat checked and gets a clean bill of health from a veterinarian before you buy it 
  3. Whether buying a new kitten or an adult cat make sure :

    a) It has been recently wormed

    b) It's current vaccination status is up to date

    c) It has been treated for fleas and other ectoparasites (eg ticks or lice)

    d) Adult cats should be properly house-trained and have no serious behavioural traits such as aggression. Wild feral cats often can not be toilet trained (they will spray everywhere) and they don't make good household pets.

The vendor should be able to provide certificates and other documentation to prove that everything has been done properly.




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