Should You Buy A Cat From A Pet Store?
Many people buy kittens from a pet store because it is convenient, however most kittens bought from a pet store are definite impulse buys. You can window shop and walk right out with the kitten that you fell in love with while looking at it through the glass pane. This is an absolute exercise in immediate gratification (but not necessarily good judgment) when it comes to selecting the best pet for you.
Pet stores acquire their stock from commercial breeders of kittens. This can be a dangerous prospect because not every cat kennel is a clean, well-run facility and not every breeder is required to have a license in order to churn out kittens to sell to pet stores.
People who run kitten mills are essentially kitten farmers. They are growing and selling them the same way that you would sell any agricultural product. These "breeders" sell kitties to brokers, who generally sell them to pet stores. The bottom line is profit and this profit can often be at the expense of the health, care and feeding of the animals.
To give you an idea of the kind of lengths that kitten mill owners go to in order to sell cheap kittens for maximum profit, consider that most mills breed their females every time they go into heat. This means one kitten will give birth to a litter two to three times a year or more! Often these kittens are crammed together into filthy cages and allowed to indiscriminately reproduce. As incest abounds, unhealthy and high-strung partially purebred animals are the result.
If you choose to buy a kitten from a pet store, choose a clean shop with healthy-looking animals. Ask for proof that the cat has been examined and given a clean bill of health by a local veterinarian that you can phone up and verify the health check with. Also ask for the USDA license number of the breeder. If the pet store vendor is claiming that is a purebred kitten, ask for proof that the animal that is registered on paper with the Cat Fancier's Association.
When you buy a kitten from a pet store, you may be offered a contract, but keep in mind that the contract is designed to protect the vendor, not the customer. Usually you can return the kitten and replace it with another kitten if your kitten becomes ill. Pet stores rarely offer a refund on animals so be prepared to be offered another animal instead of cash if something happens as the result of ill breeding.
If you are stuck with a sick kitten bought from a bad breeder, then often your last resort is to sue the pet store to get your money back and be reimbursed for medical expenses. In that case, you have not only paid for a kitten but you have also saved the pet store the trouble of having to pay for the animal's eventual euthanasia.
The stongest advantage of buying in a pet store is that you can find a kitten immediately. And there are many reputable, fine pet stores out there. But even though not every pet from a pet store develops problems, you have absolutely nothing to fall back on if something does go wrong with your new pet. It is not the responsibility of the pet store to deal with or explain health or behavior problems that occur as the result of you owning the kitten.
Your best course of action is to protect both cats and yourself from bad breeding practices by avoiding buying a kitten on impulse from a pet shop. You are much better off to do some research about the kind of animal you would like to adopt or buy first.