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What are the dangers of buying a kitten online?

Are you thinking about buying a kitten as an addition to the household? If we want to buy something new nowadays one of the first things we do is grab our phone and browse the internet. We are very used to searching, clicking and buying online.But how do we know whether the ads we are looking at can be trusted? Nobody wants to get scammed and we all want the kitten to be healthy and bred by a responsible person. The most important rule when using the internet is to never buy a kitten or cat without meeting them in person. That way you can assess whether the cat is healthy, they come from a responsible owner and that they will be a perfect addition to the family. Every cat has their own personality and not every cat will fit into your family.

Girl on the phone with a cat - TassieCat

Going online is a fantastic way to do some research. You can look at the behavioural traits of different breeds and see if they would fit your family’s lifestyle. You can also look up breeders online by visiting the four currently recognised Tasmanian cat organisations - Cat Association of Tasmania, Cat Control Council of Tasmania, Tasmanian Feline Association, and Australian National Cats. Maybe, after all of that research, you decide you just want a moggy and in that case you can visit your local cat management facility. The internet will also have all the information on what food, toys and other items you will need to look after your future addition.The more you know the better prepared you will be when the new kitten arrives.

It is important to know that in Tasmania all cats that are sold or given away have to be at least eight weeks old, desexed, microchipped, wormed and vaccinated. Written evidence of a general health check by a vet should also be provided. Exceptions may apply. Visit the DPIPWE website for more information.

Kitten playing with toy - TassieCat

So how can we make sure that the cat you are looking at comes from a responsible breeder, will be healthy and socialised and you will not get scammed? There are some red flags you should look for in ads about kittens. Here are the top six warning signs adapted from RSPCA guidelines

‘Six week old kitten’ – This is too young for a kitten to be leaving their mother as they will not yet be fully weaned or have a fully developed immune system. Kittens should be at least eight weeks old before they leave their mother. Tasmanian legislation also requires a kitten to be at least eight weeks of age before they can be sold or given away.

‘Delivery can be arranged’ or ‘I can meet you halfway’ – The seller might be trying to prevent you from seeing where the animals have been bred. It is important to visit the breeder to meet the kitten along with its mother and any of the litter mates if possible. This way you can assess the health and character of the kitten and see the environment they have grown up in.

If you are considering buying from a breeder it is recommended that you check their registration number with the organisation they are listed with. No reputable breeder should be willing to part with their kitten without meeting you first and knowing the kitten is going to a good home.

‘Parents are DNA tested’ – This looks good initially, but you need to be able to see the proof of the testing and know whether the correct tests have been done. Specific breeds have specific health problems and the tests are only useful if the diseases they tested for are associated with that breed.

‘No questions asked’ – The seller doesn’t require you to answer any questions. If you can just click and pay for the kitten without any questions it most likely won’t come from a responsible cat owner.

‘Limited information’ – Be concerned if the ad doesn’t provide you with much information, for example whether the cat desexed, microchipped, or vaccinated. Limited information can indicate an untrustworthy seller that is hoping you won’t notice the absence of important information.

Be mindful when the seller asks for additional money for ‘unforeseen circumstances’ – Scammers often use this trick to get more money out of people.If you are being scammed the kitten might never arrive, it might be in poor health or you might not receive the kitten you were expecting.

Mum feeding four kittens - TassieCat

We have a lot of excellent and reputable cat breeders in Tasmania who breed a wide variety of cat breeds. We also have several cat management facilities if you would rather have a moggy. If you decide to adopt from a cat management facility you are not only giving your new kitten a second chance in life, but you can rest assured that they are healthy, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated. Who knows, while visiting one of the facilities you might realise a kitten is not for you and that you have fallen in love with an older cat who is seeking a warm lap to sit on for the rest of their days.

Cat on a lap - TassieCat

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