Monday, November 5, 2012

A rant about cat sales

A truck used for selling cats
Yup, they're really selling cats out of a mobile home.

It all started with a pretty innocent trip for groceries. Turns out, I could have picked up more than basic meat and veggies. Smack in the middle of the Fred Meyer parking lot on Sunday, this man set up shop, selling Persian kittens for $1,000 and up.

"You want to come inside and see some pretty kitties?"

That's what the man inside this mobile home shouted at me when I got a little closer with my camera. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was snapping a photo only because I had planned to post a rant and rave about him on the web.

This thing really hacks me off.

This morning, when I ran a quick search on Petfinder for cats close to the 97301 zip code, I came back with 1,971 hits. That's worth repeating: There are close to 2,000 cats in the Salem area that I know need new homes. Many more are hiding in vacant houses, in private homes or in private shelters that don't use Petfinder, all hoping someone will choose them and take them home. No listing I saw asked for $1,000 in exchange. Even the few Persians I found through this site weren't associated with such high adoption fees.

I know. I know. Purebred cats may "cost" more because they come with extensive paperwork, and they can be used in breeding programs. I am well acquainted with this, as I have a purebred dog myself. However, reputable breeders do not sell their cats out of mobile homes in the middle of a parking lot. They breed only to better the breed, and they do so rather rarely. Kittens are a rarity, and there are long waiting lists for these kittens. People must sign contracts and endure home visits before they can take the kittens. These little guys are also health tested before they're sent to their homes.

Reputable dog and cat breeders follow all of these steps. Guys who sell cats out of mobile homes are unlikely to do anything like this. I'm pretty sure I could have walked out with an armload of semi-healthy cats, no home visits or contracts required, as long as my check didn't bounce.

In addition, reputable breeders rarely ask for adoption fees that are much higher than those charged by a rescue organization. Buy a pug from a reputable breeder, you pay about $800. Adopt a pug from the Humane Society, you pay about $600. The purebred is more expensive, but not by much. This guy's price of a grand is, from what I can tell, about double or even triple what the rescue organizations charge. That seems like greed to me.

I'm thankful that this man didn't seem to have any customers. Perhaps people didn't have an extra $1,000 in their wallets after buying food for their families. But he must have had at least one sale in the past, as he seems to think he has a winning business model. Otherwise, he'd be selling somewhere else.

All I can ask you is this: Please don't support breeding programs like this.

Just don't do it.

Every kitten sold deprives another of a home, and every kitten sold means another win for a guy selling cats out of a mobile home. We can all do better.