Future mother of- Grand Champions!
|Purred: Thu Dec 2, '10 8:16pm PST |
|Yuck! Obviously, they can't sell kittens with health conditions like those described, so I assume that kitten mills end up "getting rid of" (choose your method) cats that can't be sold in pet stores.
The cats I've seen in my local pet store, a chain, are all healthy looking. If you know your breed standards, you might see a kitten who can only be described as "pet quality," but the truth is, many times you can't tell the quality of a kitten at 2-3 months (I'm talking about breed standards here, not health). Lowell, who is an exceptionally good cat, didn't look like anything really special until after he'd been neutered at around 7 months. And I would have no idea how to judge the kittens of other breeds.
However, before I learned about how to buy from a breeder, I was doing some comparison shopping among the different branches of this chain. I was mostly looking for red tabby Maine Coons, but was also interested in a cute little long haired Scottish Fold (of course, red tabby and white). The people in the store are up-front about health problems (either that, or they tell you about some health problems and not about others...). One Maine Coon had an undescended testicle. I was told that it would either descend naturally, given time, or else an operation would be necessary. At that time, I had no intention of showing a cat, and didn't know anything about showing anyway, but now I know that an undescended testicle is a disqualifying trait. The Scottish Fold was on sale, but I was told that there was a possibility that he might develop FIP in the future. I had no idea at that time what FIP was, and when I asked, I was told, "Well, it means that the cat dies." Uh, you expect me to pay $500 for a cat who may die within a few months? Now that I know more about cat health, I suspect that the kitten in question had a high titer of coronavirus antibodies (is that right?), which I now know doesn't necessarily mean anything (most cats have coronavirus antibodies, and the titer can go up or down).
One thing I find suspicious, though, is that the cats and dogs sold by this chain get cheaper as they get older. Yup, everybody wants a cute, tiny little kitten or puppy. If the kitten or puppy isn't sold fast, the price goes down and down, and...after that, what happens, I don't know. I used to think that the shops then destroyed the animals, but now I think they probably return them to the breeders...maybe. Breeders often have cats who, for whatever reason, take a while to sell. My own breeder would sometimes end up with extremely striking cats who just didn't sell--Elise was one of them. She fits the MC standard very well and has a sunny personality; I don't know why nobody wanted her. It's just fate, or luck. My breeder once told me that long haired cats don't sell very well during the summer months, because they make people feel hot just to look at; they sell better in the winter, when people are cold.
In any event, this particular chain has its problems, but I don't think they're getting their kittens from mills. Still, I would never buy from them because they sell their kittens before they are properly socialized, and the prices are ridiculously high. You can get better cats for much less from a breeder. It does take a bit of research, however, to find out what to look for in a cat and to find a good breeder. People who need instant gratification buy at pet shops.
Oh, and these pet shops ARE under the auspices of the local health authorities. Everyone who works in the store must get a license that enables them to advertise and sell their animals. I think it's the same license I have. In theory, it means inspection by health department authorities occasionally, although I've never heard of small scale breeders getting inspected. I imagine that pet shops do.
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