Charity urges vigilance over online kitten sales after spike in demand for ‘lockdown pets’

A leading cat charity has urged vigilance over online sales of kittens following a spike in demand d

A leading cat charity has urged vigilance over online sales of kittens following a spike in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Demand for “lockdown pets” caused by the coronavirus pandemic could make it easier for online vendors to sell poorly-bred kittens, a leading cat charity has warned.

According to Government figures, adverts posted across online marketplaces for puppies, kittens, dogs and cats increased by 125% during lockdown and Cats Protection says buyers need to be more vigilant than ever.

The charity has raised fears that “unscrupulous sellers” will look to capitalise on the Covid-19 pandemic and sell kittens which may be sick or too young to be parted from their mothers.

Before lockdown, buyers may have heard alarm bells if a seller offered to deliver a kitten to them, or said it was not possible to view the kitten with its mother.

But the guidelines and restrictions on visiting other households means it is now very difficult to be sure of a kitten’s background, the charity warned.

Jean Podd, Cats Protection Ipswich coordinator, said she has seen online adverts for cats selling for “ridiculous amounts”.

“There are a lot of people out there who are after kittens,” she said.

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“I keep seeing adverts on selling sites and to be honest, it makes my toes curl.

“Kittens are being sold for a ridiculous amount of money and some of them are being sold without the right veterinary and health checks.”

The charity said the pandemic has created the ideal conditions for sellers wanting to cash in, both with high demand and Covid-19 restrictions giving vendors an extra layer of invisibility.

Margaret Spratt, Cats Protection Bury St Edmunds coordinator, urged people to do their homework.

“I think people see a pretty kitten and think ‘we want one of those’ but some of the prices I have seen have been extortionate.

“People need to do their homework and really ask the right questions about the health and behaviour of the kitten.

“Cats can be with you for 15/16 years, which is quite a long time, so it’s important people know what they are getting into and the associated costs.”

Mrs Podd said she would recommend anyone wanting to adopt a kitten to go through a charity.

“It doesn’t have to be ours, but at least with a charity, you know you are getting the best you can healthwise,” she added.

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