The Hervey Foundation for Cats
How to Avoid Online Cat Sale Scams During the Holidays

How to Avoid Online Cat Sale Scams During the Holidays

It’s almost time for Christmas and Hanukkah, and as a result, there are more online cat sale-related scams popping up. Sadly, fraudsters know how much a photo of a cute kitten can pull on the heartstrings, and with the holidays approaching, they know more people will be looking for a furry companion to add to their household.   

We’ve assembled a few examples of online cat sale scams to keep an eye out for. 

-Internet Sale Scams

These scams are simply a matter of one-party sending money for something that never existed in the first place. A cat is listed for sale online (in many cases, cats of rarer breeds), a buyer sends money for the cat and receives nothing in return. For more expensive cats, they may only ask for a deposit, then the line will go cold. Oftentimes the ‘seller’ stops responding or deletes their email address/phone number. 

-Free Cat Scams

Another scam you might see more frequently, these ads often draw in victims by offering a cat for free or at a major discount. The scammers then ask recipients to help pay for shipping. Once the animal ‘is on the way’ other complications arise, like additional carriage fees with airlines, larger transport kennels, etc. In most cases, there never was a cat in the first place, though the scammers will have sucked money out of the unwitting victims multiple times.  

-Overseas Cats

Some specialty breeds, such as Toygers or Serval cats, can fetch very high prices. As a result, some less scrupulous parties, overseas, have taken to breeding and shipping them around the world. Many of these poor creatures arrive sick and often die from their health problems. When purchasing a cat, if you are speaking to someone out-of-country, you may want to raise an eyebrow and move on to something more local. 

Local Shelters are the Safest Bet

Shelters don’t often have designer breeds on hand, but they do a number of other things very well. They provide safety, security, and peace of mind to owners who are looking for a cat to add to their home, and their animals are up-to-date on their shots and are spayed/neutered when they arrive. 

Specialty breeders aren’t all bad. Some have excellent reputations and have worked with animals for a very long time, while some overseas mills put up fake websites and pretend to be specialty breeders while importing the animals, often inhumanely. 

With all that in mind, one of the most important pieces of purchasing an animal is to see it in person. If you are sending money to someone you haven’t met in person, who lives outside your province or country, you need to realize there is a serious added risk to doing so. There are no guarantees you will receive a cat and your money will be lost. Do your homework and find out who you are dealing with, and insist on seeing the animals in person before sending any money. 

Cats are Not Meant to be Gifts

One last thought – a cat should not be considered a gift. A cat is a new member of the family who requires love and care every single day. It is not a gift that can run on autopilot and take care of itself. Introducing a cat to a family or someone special in your life on Christmas is a nice gesture, but one that should only be made if you know the recipient wants a cat in their life and if they have the means to take care of them. 

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