Avoiding the Kitten Scam…
It’s 2022, the General Public is finally emerging from lockdown for the major portion of the previous two years. The Internet is buzzing about with pictures and offers of purebred kittens worldwide. Springtime is the busiest time of the year for cat breeders as this tends to be the time of year when the majority of kittens are born.
Unfortunately, the increase in scams and poorly raised kittens (aka Backyard Breeders) is exponential as well and it gets truly challenging to navigate the upswell of deception of these scammers versus the legitimate feline husbandry cattery. So we feel it was important that, whether or not you acquire one of our beautiful AURYN kittens, you are armed with the right information to make a wise and educated purchase of a purebred kitten, no matter the breed you desire to have in your home.
The Tell-tale signs of a Kitten Scammer
It’s very important to remain vigilant in your research and you must do your “due diligence” if you are to protect your wallet and more importantly, your heart from these unscrupulous flim-flam artists. The more you know how to detect and avoid, the better results you will uncover. Here are some of the most important RED FLAGS you should be on the lookout for:
- Scammers typically only communicate with you via text message or email. It’s important that ALL available avenues of communication are accessible to you, including phone conversations, and even Facetime or Live Video Skype messaging if possible. They will usually not want to have that much exposure so they avoid it at all costs. Being on the Internet only, allows them to be as anonymous as possible. Be advised, however, that there are many legitimate catteries that won’t allow live home visitation due to the age of the kittens and to protect their homes and families from sordid individuals who may not have the best intentions when asking for access to the kittens.
- Scammers get easily irritated with questions about their kittens, their cattery and themselves personally. If they begin to get defensive and hostile when you ask the questions you need answers to, it’s a certainty that their operation isn’t very legitimate.
- Scammers have very few pictures of the kittens they are selling, especially if you want to see how the kitten you’ve chosen is developing. You’ll also notice that the pictures don’t look consistent. Remember that kittens do change rapidly, but not so much that you aren’t able to see consistent markings as they age (of course this is much more difficult for solid-colored kittens, but there are usually subtleties that you can make out from week to week.
- Unscrupulous kitten sellers will demand payment of deposits or the full price of the kittens and will press the issue. Typically they will insist on payment via Western Union℠ or MoneyGram℠ money services. You should avoid this at all costs since once you send that money, it’s gone and you have no recourse to get it back should you discover you’ve been swindled. There are many legitimate methods to send deposit money that will have ways to get the funds back should you find you’ve been deceived.
- Most scammers will offer their “champion, purebred, registered” kittens at amazingly discounted prices, and sometimes they will claim that these prices will include shipping. Research your breed and try to find a medium price for similar kittens from well-known legitimate breeders; if the price is on the low-end or lower, then you should walk away from the deal.
- Scammer websites are usually “live” for short periods of time. Beware of these sites. Most legitimate websites of legitimate breeders will have a registered SECURE website SSL socket on the site to protect your information. Look up at the URL address line of this page: if you see a little ???? in the address bar, it indicates that the website is secure. Most legitimate websites are registered properly in order for them to qualify for this service and do so to protect themselves and you as a buyer.
- Unscrupulous scammers will use the same pictures over and over again on multiple websites to advertise different kitten litters. They will often use web addresses similar to legitimate cattery websites in order to trick you into believing that you are on the correct site for the real cattery. For instance, our website address is auryncats.com, but a scammer will create a website using the address aurynmainecoons.net in an attempt to make you believe you are dealing with us. Be sure you are in contact with the right people before exchanging your information and more importantly your money!
- Facebook has a plethora of fake cattery pages online. Even though we also have our own Facebook page for our cattery, usually these pages are called “Maine Coon kittens for Sale” or “Available Maine Coon kittens”. Be leery of these pages.
- ASK around about cattery names. Legitimate, quality Maine Coon breeders (and for that matter, any purebred breed) will have a reputation among other breeders. Many good breeder (although not always the case) exhibit their cats in shows sanctioned by a legitimate feline registry such as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA) and you may actually meet these breeders face-to-face at the show and meet their cats in person. Scammer catteries almost never show their cats in public.
- Websites from scammers tend to be full of errors, including spelling and grammatical, or stating false “facts” about the breed, posting that their cattery is registered with the major registries when in fact their catteries cannot be located among the cattery listings of those institutions.
- Scammers will offer to transport your kitten for an amazing price. Be very careful about this as these costs are not as inexpensive as you may think. Also, many times, the “breeder” will contact you at the last minute asking for more money to cover “registration costs” or “customs fees,” etc. In most cases, this is a ruse and your should walk away from any transaction where the costs are not completely laid out for you from the very beginning.
- Above all else, trust your gut — your instincts! If it feels weird or strange or wrong, it probably is. Take time to get to know the breeder thoroughly, not just the kitten. It’s easy to fall in love with a picture — don’t let your heart overrule your head.
Why We Are Different
AURYN Maine Coon Cattery has worked tirelessly to be transparent in everything we do. We are not just a Maine Coon breeder. We are actively involved in our community:
- We established and maintain the current TICA Chartered Cat Club in Utah, the Wild West Cat Fanciers (see http://wildwestcf.com) and host the annual “Rocky Mountain Roundup” TICA cat show in Salt Lake City every year in June.
- We have operated a successful pet courier service for nearly 29 years and have a very strong presence among cat and dog breeders around the world.
- Having such a high profile in the cat fancy is motivation enough for us to operate our cattery with highest levels of integrity and ethics possible — we have a reputation to uphold.
- We never accept deposit monies from ANYONE when there is no kitten available and we believe in strong and frequent communication with our clients from the very beginning.
- We only use safe, bank-level secure money transfer systems to exchange funds for deposits and payment of kitten fees.
- We encourage our clients to ask questions and remain in touch with our cattery for support and guidance now and in the future.
- We have a solid contract that is written in plain English to avoid any ambiguities.
It’s important the you find your new companion animal in a safe and secure way. The scammers are out there in force and they know how easy it is to snare unsuspecting future pet owners with pictures of cute, sweet kittens. We cannot overstate this statement: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Remember this one rock solid princple: caveat emptor — BUYER BEWARE!