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Buying by Photograph


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Whether you’re dealing with a breeder or a private owner, don’t agree to purchase a cat you haven’t seen. Some breeders who live out of your area will agree to sell cats long-distance. They e-mail a photograph or video and the first time you actually get to meet your cat is when you pick him up at the airport. My word on this practice? DON’T.

If the breeder of the specific breed you want lives far away and you absolutely have to have this kitten, then get on a plane and go see him, evaluate the facilities, and then if all seems right, take the kitten back with you. Don’t commit to the sale until you’re there in person.

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Be cautious. Just because a kitten is advertised for free and the description sounds perfect doesn’t necessarily mean things are as advertised.

Treat the owners as you would a breeder by asking questions. How was the kitten or cat raised? In the case of older cats, ask why they need to find another home. The reason may be stated in the ad, but ask for more specific details.

Check out the home carefully. Don’t let the owners meet you at the mailbox with the kitten in their arms. You want to see where he was raised and, if possible, see the mother cat.

If the owners are trying to place a cat who has behavior problems and you still want to adopt him, find out everything and I mean everything you can. Not only what the problem is but where, when, and how it happens.

What methods did they use to correct the problem? The behavior problem may be a result of something going on in that household and might be solved just by removing the cat. Just make sure you’ve received full disclosure and that you’re prepared to be patient through the cat’s adjustment period.

Sometimes adult cats are put up for adoption because there have been changes in the family. For example, the owner may have passed away and the relatives are trying to place the cat. If you know the reason why the cat is being rehomed, you can be better prepared to help him through the changes.

An adult cat from a previous home often makes a wonderful companion as long as you have the time and patience to help him. Cats who have lost their owners, been abused, or are suddenly shunned (because of something such as rejection by an owner’s new spouse), are confused, scared, and in crisis. With your love, though, they stand a chance at a wonderful life.

If it’s a kitten advertised and the ad states that initial vaccinations have been given, don’t just take a stranger’s word for it. Ask to see written proof in the form of a vaccination record and veterinary clinic receipt. Don’t be satisfied by one of those little “My Pet’s Record” folders where the vaccinations are checked off and the date entered. Anyone with a pen can write in those booklets. Find out who the veterinarian is and call for verification if the owners have no written proof.

If the owner has the mother cat, find out if she is up-to-date on vaccinations and has tested negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Another big question that should be on your mind is why did this owner allow the cat to become pregnant? Are they backyard breeders who thought they could make a little money by mating their purebred with some friend’s male purebred? By purchasing a kitten from such people you only encourage them to continue this practice. If you think you’ll be getting a valuable purebred at a bargain, you’re sadly mistaken. What you may actually be doing is paying a high price for a low-quality cat with genetic defects. I’m also upset about the people who don’t alter their mixed-breed cats, and then when the cat has a litter, put an ad on Craigslist knowing that people are always looking for kittens and they’ll be able to get those four or five little problems off their hands.

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