Kitten & puppy scams
Bengal kitten scams exist just as much as puppy scams do.
After a quick Australian google search looking for ‘Bengal kittens for sale’, I found a whoop load of scammer ads.
After over a decade of breeding Bengal cats I have a trained eye for scam adverts. Sadly, many new and existing pet owners do not.
After countless phone calls from Australian folk who have been scammed in the purchase of a Bengal kitten, I thought I would try to put together some tips for people to follow in their pursuit of their next family member.
Where do scammers advertise?
• Trading Post
• Ad Post
• On websites which look reputable (yes, this is true) I have seen first hand entire websites from reputable breeders be copied and used to form a brand new website with a slight adjustment to the url spelling! Identifying the fake can be close to impossible!
What types of things do scammers do?
• They set up an ad offering a great bargain
• They offer all the things one would expect to receive; vet work. Highly socialised kitten or puppy. Insurance. Toys. Food. Registration papers.
• They ask a cheap price which is hard for many to refuse
• They provide adorable photos of kittens or puppies to you and play on your emotions of owning it.
• They will give you a lot of excuses as to why you can not view the kitten in person or via video. (the biggest is they have had to suddenly move interstate)
• They will be pushy for you to pay them.
• They like to conduct everything through text or messenger from social media sights
Did you know?
On the 26th of March 2018 Scamwatch alerted they had received 584 puppy/kitten scam reports within the previous 12 months. A calculated $310,000 was lost to these scams.
The scamwatch warning can be read here: Scam Watch – Don’t fall for a puppy or kitten scammer
How do you protect yourself?
Be savvy! Educate yourself in how to tell if a breeder is legitimate. There are a whole range of things you should be looking for when you visit a breeder’s ad, website or social media page.
Remember: Every person who has a litter of kittens or puppies is a Breeder! X-Breeds and all.
Australian Cat Councils
Each Australian State has at least one Registering Cat Council for a Breeder to join. These Cat Councils maintain the Pedigree database in Australia, they conduct Cat Shows and they set a Code Of Ethics for their members to adhere to.
How to avoid being scammed
• Ask for the Breeders Registration Number & Registering Cat Council
• Phone or email the Cat Council and check the registration is valid
• Be sure to get a full contact name of the breeder. Many scam ads or sites never inform you of who you are dealing with. Research the name for legitimacy.
Most Australian States now require Breeders to register their breeding programs. Search your State government ‘Dog and Cat law website’ for the breeder registration number. It is also noteworthy to mention that anybody producing a litter of puppies or kittens must by law be registered with the government in South Australia. This includes X-Breeds.
• Ensure the kitten you are planning to purchase has been vaccinated, microchipped, desexed and is no younger than 12 weeks of age. (these 4 things are compulsory in South Australia and many other States)
• Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? If they are breeding the breed, they sure as heck should have a confident knowledge of genetics, the breed, vet care, food requirements, breed traits and animal husbandry practices.
• Read ads and websites well. Many scammers will have a lot of spelling errors.
• Check the breeders website URL. Websites ending in, .com.au are generally very legitimate
• Read reviews from previous purchasers
• Follow breeders photos on social media pages. Do the adult breeding cats look happy? Healthy? Loved? Or are they isolated, skinny, caged? Don’t forget to look in the background of photos. Is the environment clean, uncluttered, safe?
When to run a mile and not look back!
• The breeder can only be contacted by text or messenger
• The breeder supplies no contact name or phone number on a website or social media page
• The breeder rushes to take your money after very little contact or questions
• Run if the breeder is spending all their time telling you how wonderful the kitten or puppy is. Their focus should be making sure you are prepared for the kitten’s diet, care, future training and health. They should be explaining to you the vet work schedule and the paperwork which will accompany your kitten. Ask about their socialization protocols. How do they raise their kittens over the first three months.
• Ask them how they deal with situations when things go wrong. Ie: kitten gets sick, kitten receives an injury.
What is the right way to purchase a puppy or kitten?
• Take your time! This is an emotional investment of the heart and will be for the next 10 to 16 years! These are your hard-earned dollars you are going to part with and sometimes the wrong choice can not only cost you the price of the kitten, but exuberant vet bills and a wealth of emotional stress.
• Research your chosen breed. I’m talking proper research. The good of the breed along with the bad. Your knowledge is your power to making an informed decision.
• Speak to different breeders, ask questions and ask the right questions. What are the health guarantees they offer? What health tests have they done on the parents? How do they raise their kittens? Indoors or outdoors? Yes, this makes a huge difference! Then research the breeder to see if what they say satisfactorily adds up to what you can see about them.
• Follow both your brain and your gut. If it seems too good to be true it generally is!
• Remember, most reputable breeders want to know quite a bit about you and the home you are offering one of their kittens or puppies. If you are not being asked questions, be alarmed!