Buyer Beware – Online cat and Kitten Sales Prompt Charity Warning

A rising development of cat and kittens being bought on-line has prompted a cat charity to warn in regards to the risks of shopping for sick and underage kittens.

During the 2020/2021 monetary 12 months, round 340,000 cats purchased had been discovered on-line on websites together with Gumtree, Preloved, Facebook and Pets4Homes, accounting for 68 per cent of all cats bought, based on Cats Protection’s Cats And Their Stats (CATS) Report 2021 launched this week.

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This contributed to a rise within the variety of pet cats within the UK, which leapt up from 10.2 million in 2020 to 10.8 million in 2021. Just over one in 4 households (26 per cent) personal at the very least one cat, based on the report.

However, Cats Protection says the development for purchasing on-line has additionally attracted unscrupulous people who’ve discovered methods round promoting restrictions on pet web sites and social media.

Over the identical timeframe, Action Fraud, the UK’s nationwide centre for on-line fraud and cybercrime has reported a rise in kitten or cat fraud. In the 2020/21 monetary 12 months, 1,146 cases had been reported to them, with cat patrons shedding a mean of £216 every – an enormous improve on 2019/20 the place solely 190 cases and a mean lack of £169 was reported.

Cats Protection says it additionally has been contacted by a rising quantity of people that stated they had been mis-sold a kitten.

Samantha Webb, 32, from Truro says she was tricked when she bought her kitten Franky after seeing him on Facebook in May.

“I noticed a photograph of playful kittens with a caption saying ‘10-week-old kittens able to go, mum might be seen’ and I contacted the proprietor to rearrange an appointment.

“On arrival, I used to be handed a frail and limp kitten who wouldn’t open his eyes. He didn’t resemble any of the kittens within the photograph in any respect.

“I handed over an agreed charge of £30 simply so I might get this poor kitten to the vet, who confirmed he was simply 4 weeks previous and had a neurological situation referred to as cerebellar hypoplasia attributable to his mum having a virus throughout being pregnant.

“I attempted to take care of Franky at dwelling however one evening he fell right into a disorientated state, drooling and whining and urgent his head in opposition to the wall.  I rushed him again to the vet and regardless of doing what they might, Franky’s situation shortly deteriorated and he needed to be put to sleep.

“I’ve reported the incident to Facebook and the RSPCA. I really feel it’s so essential that individuals are conscious of unscrupulous sellers on the market.”

“Samantha’s case is one among many which have been associated to us by fearful cat lovers,” stated Stefan Blakiston-Moore, Cats Protection’s Advocacy and Government Relations Officer.

“Adverts for cats and kittens could also be deceptive. Sellers will often provide you with methods to cease patrons seeing younger kittens with their mum cat of their dwelling surroundings, for instance by stressing the necessity to maintain to social distancing guidelines.

“This means in lots of instances kittens are handed over on the primary meet up, with the client not realising that the kittens are sick, diseased or have severely impaired immune programs after being taken from their mum once they had been too younger.”

TV character and animal welfare campaigner Deborah Meaden has lent her assist to Cats Protection’s marketing campaign.

“Online buying has undoubtedly change into an enormous a part of our lives – notably through the pandemic. But in the case of cats and kittens, shopping for on-line isn’t with out its dangers, says Deborah.

“It is surprising to see how simple it’s for unscrupulous sellers to function on-line and put revenue earlier than kitten welfare.

“Consumers could discover themselves duped into buying kittens that are too younger or sick, leaving them with excessive vet payments, or in some instances, a kitten which tragically dies.

“Cats Protection’s work with authorities and intensive recommendation to customers is important to make sure potential cat house owners get a wholesome and glad pet and stamp out the mis-selling of pets.”

Cats Protection’s newest marketing campaign happening this winter – Eight Precious Weeks – highlights the significance of the primary weeks of a kitten’s life the place they want to stick with their mum to allow them to develop right into a wholesome cat.

The charity’s web site supplies steerage on what to ask when buying kittens together with a free-to-download guidelines at www.cats.org.uk/buying-a-kitten

Top suggestions embody checking the vendor is licensed or registered with a neighborhood authority upfront, and visiting the vendor to see the kittens with their mum cat earlier than committing to any buy.

Cats Protection is a nationwide community of round 210 volunteer-run branches, 37 centres and 110 charity outlets which assist round 200,000 cats and kittens every year.

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