Puppy mills are still in operation in many countries, and awareness has increased as people spread the word about where the cute puppies in pet store windows really come from.
Can the same be said for kittens? Sadly, the answer is yes.
What Is a Kitten Mill?
A kitten mill is a breeding location where purebred cats and kittens are living in tight conditions, share space with too many cats, go without medical attention and often live in their own waste.
The cats that can be bred will continue to have kittens until they are no longer able to reproduce, at which time they are killed or given away. The animals suffer from infections, deformations, starvation and parasites, and can be the end result of inbreeding.
The health of the cats and kittens is not a concern for the kitten mill owner. The main goal is selling the kittens as soon as possible before they show signs of illness. Money is the fuel for the fire that is irresponsible and profitable breeding, and as long as people continue to buy pets in pet stores or from breeders they do not research, mills will continue to exist.
Where Are They Located?
Kitten mills and irresponsible backyard breeders can be down the street, in the next state, across the country and worldwide. There is no specific location for a kitten mill. They’re in the Midwest, California, North Carolina and anywhere in between. The kittens end up in pet stores or sold and shipped via the internet to anyone willing to pay the breeder’s fee.
Consider the case of Sandra Norman in North Carolina. She was reportedly breeding purebred cats in a single room in her home. The 18 cats and kittens lived together in their own feces and urine, and the smell of ammonia was so bad officials listed it as a health hazard to her children living in the home. Neighbors were shocked, saying Norman was such a nice person.
This video shows the news report with more details:
There are red flags to look out for when you visit or research a cat breeder. Often purebred cats are advertised and sold as such, but the breeder will say that they do not come with any registration papers or health certificates. A health guarantee, if given, will often be very short — even if the kitten becomes ill or dies, getting a refund may be impossible.
- Are the cats and kittens healthy and happy?
- Do they have enough room to move around?
- Do they have clean food and water?
- Are they injured, walking with a limp, missing eyes or extremities?
- Is there an overwhelming odor of ammonia, air fresheners or chemicals?
- Are there piles of cat hair on the floors or in corners?
- Is the fur matted?
- Are the nails overgrown?
- Are you permitted to see the parents of the kittens? If so, are they in good health?
- Does the breeder always seem to have kittens available?
- Are rare or expensive breeds being sold for suspiciously low prices?
- Are veterinary records, vaccinations and health/genetic test reports available?
- Can the breeder explain the breed standard and its genetic issues?
- Is the breeder willing to show documentation from a local vet or provide the vet’s name?
These are but a few questions on a very long list of red flags. Any responsible breeders will welcome these questions, answer them and provide documentation to prove they take good care of their animals.
There are more concerns about where and how the breeder sells the kittens.
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