Tag: feline

Kitten Buying 101 – What to look for in a contract

One of the steps in researching a potential breeder is taking a look at their contract before you ever give them any money.  This is when you have the most leverage and can suggest additions/amendments to the document prior to handing over your deposit.  Some contracts might be just a page long, others might consist of eight plus pages.  Regardless of how extensive a contract is, there are some pitfalls you definitely want to avoid:

No contract?  Do not consider buying from a breeder who does not offer a contract – Ever!  No ifs, and's or but's about it!

Any contract you sign should at least offer the following information:

1.  Kitten's name, DOB, Litter # and physical description of the kitten including breed. 2.  Name of both the dam and sire. 3   Contain a  basic health guarantee.  Three days to have a vet check from date of pickup/receipt. Congenital defect/hereditary illness clause. The best contracts contain additional life-time guarantees for replacement and state how/when/what the kitten will be replaced for (FIP, HCM, Hip Dysplasia, Congenital Disease, etc.)   and what they will replace with (kitten of similar value, same color, same sex, when available, etc.) 4.  A replacement/refund policy and time allowance for the return of deposits, payments, etc. 5.  A paragraph of your responsibilities such as kitten care, no declaw, etc. 6.  A spay/neuter clause (if applicable), or state whether the kitten will come spayed/neutered. 7.  A designation of legal venue if any issues arise. Usually the breeder's location. 8.  A list of what the kitten comes with (vaccines, wormings, etc.). 9.  A return policy for the kitten for any other reasons not stated. 10. List the veterinary clinics name where kitten received its assessments and vaccinations.

1. The basic kitten description should include the kitten’s date of birth and parentage, plus litter number and physical attributes. Example: Female: Cattery Name-Princess Description: Short Haired,  Brown-Black Spotted Tabby. DOB: 2016-03-12, Litter Reg # BV596943, Sire Name: Cattery Name-Handsome Boy, Dam Name: Cattery Name-BeautyQueen.

2. Most breeders will guarantee a kitten/cat to arrive free of disease and parasites (negative for Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia, negative for intestinal parasites, no obvious signs of a kitty cold) for a standard period of 72 hours.  You must take the kitten to the vet within that three day period and have it tested to verify it is healthy.  Because of incubation periods, you cannot expect a breeder to uphold a health guarantee past 72 hours as any positive test may very well be the result of exposure at the kitten’s new home – your home.

Typical basic testing should include a test for Feline Aids/Feline Leukemia and a fecal float for detecting worms.  Because some “bugs” are not detected through this very basic test protocol, we also highly recommend you have two specific test panels performed :

The gastro-intestinal panel that will rest for clostridium perfringens, cryptosporidium, feline coronavirus (FCoV), feline panleukopenia virus, Giardia, Salmonella, Toxoplasma gondii and Tritrichomonas foetus

The upper respiratory panel that tests for herpes, calici, chlamydia, bortadella and mycoplasma infections.

These tests are not cheap (around $150/each), but will give you peace of mind knowing that your kitten is 100% o.k.

Make sure that the contract clearly states what happens if a kitten is diagnosed with any of these “bugs” within the initial guarantee period.  You need to ask if the breeder would pay for treatment. Any breeder not willing to pay for treatment of illnesses discovered during the initial guarantee period is not one we recommend you buy from.

3. Should a kitten be diagnosed with a life threatening or incurable illness (such as HCM, FIP, PKD, FeLV/FIV, etc), the breeder will usually want it returned in order to grant a refund/replacement.  No good breeder should make you return your pet to receive a refund/replacement.  A good breeder will offer, but never demand and make a return the condition for a replacement or refund.  It is bad enough if a pet buyer has to go through the heartache of dealing with a sick and doomed kitten, but a return is unimaginable for most as they of course fall in love with their new family member almost instantaneously.  Be aware that breeders bank on the emotional bond you form with your new furry friend and know that you will not return it giving them the contractual right to refuse a refund/replacement.

In the event of the demise of your pet, the breeder will most likely ask for a necropsy.  In great many instances, this is not necessary.  HCM is diagnosed without a necropsy.  PKD is diagnosed without a necropsy.  And in many instances, FIP is also diagnosed without a necropsy.  You need to be prepared to perform a necropsy in the event that your vet does not know what the issue is or feels there is lack of evidence supporting a definitive diagnosis.  A breeder wants to make sure that a kitten did not die from neglect or a non-genetic issue, but rather from an illness/defect they are responsible for.

A lot of the life threatening illnesses are hereditary.  Please educate yourself about your chosen breed and make sure that the breeder includes a guarantee specifically for any genetic issues a specific breed might have.  Many breeders scan their cats before and regularly during breeding and you can ask for proof of this.

4. A contract should outline your responsibilities as a pet owner, requiring you to provide regular (annual) vet care and reasonable emergency care.  It should require you to keep your cat indoors and also not to declaw it.

5. The breeder should require you to spay or neuter your kitten by a pre-defined date unless it is already altered when you take possession.  There might be a monetary penalty in the event you fail to fix the kitten. The aim here is to reduce pedigree cats from contributing to the overpopulation of shelters and feral colonies, Backyard Breeders etc.

6. It is very typical for a breeder to designate their county of residence as the legal venue in the event of a contractual disagreement.

7. The contract should list how many vaccines and which vaccines the kitten has received as well as any surgical procedures and/or wormings.

8. The contract should have a paragraph requiring you to return the kitten to the breeder in the event that you can no longer keep it (no refund).

9. If the breeder does not disclose the Vet Clinic where the kitten received assessment or care for you to verify this is a red flag moment. Keep in mind though some breeders give their own vaccinations, but this is rare and in many cases illegal/limited.

In the era of social media, several breeders have added non-disclosure paragraphs to their contracts, also referred to as “gag orders”.  Some are reasonable, some not so much.  It is perfectly o.k. for a breeder to ask you to agree that you do not discuss any details of the contract with anyone other than legal counsel.  It is not o.k. if a breeder asks you to refrain from posting anything negative on social media.  Chances are that upset pet buyers used social media to raise awareness of the breeder’s less than stellar business practices.  So the breeder simply institutes a gag order to prevent this from happening again instead of improving the way he/she does business.

If you are not sure that the contract you are looking at is adequate, please contact us.  We gladly review the contract for a minimal fee. In most instances we can help modify the contract to be mutually beneficial. A good contract is clear, concise and communicative, don't settle for anything less.

Low Cost Necropsy Resources

Bad Cat Breeders is an advocate for buyers or potential buyers of purebred cats.  During a discussion on a previous article, we realized the need for low cost necropsy resources in the event a buyer needs to provide a necropsy to get a refund and/or replacement.

It is our recommendation that you confer with your veterinarian and allow them to help you with this process.  Generally, none of these institutions will accept a direct owner submission and will want a veterinary professional as the contact for the submission and the necropsy results.

Bad Cat Breeders does not claim that this list is complete.  If you know of any low cost necropsy resource you'd like to share, please put that information in the comments section.

Follow Up to “FIP and the Bad Cat Breeder”

We appreciate the huge response our original “FIP and the Bad Cat Breeder” has generated. Not surprisingly, breeders commented letting us know that without a necropsy, FIP cannot definitively be diagnosed.  Our article specifically stated that it is the sign of a bad cat breeder IF after exhaustive diagnostic testing, the most likely diagnosis is FIP, a breeder demands a necropsy.  We never stated that a breeder who demands a necropsy after a cat was “diagnosed” with FIP based on minimal blood work is a bad breeder.  One of our admins lost a kitten they purchased to FIP.  The diagnosis was arrived at by extensive testing – blood work, ultrasound guided biopsy, clinical symptoms to the tune of over $4,000.  The admin chose to have a necropsy done after the kitten’s demise and it was, of course, FIP.  If the breeder would have made a replacement conditional upon a necropsy after this staggering sum was spent, you would have looked at a bad cat breeder.  The insistence on a necropsy is directly affected by how much diagnostic testing was performed.  In this particular case not only did the breeder chose not to replace, but she actually demanded the return of the kitten so the admin could get a refund of the purchase price.  THAT is a Bad Cat Breeder.

For those that commented citing Dr. Pedersen’s statement regarding the 100% diagnosis of FIP being possibly only through a necropsy, please be advised that he reviewed the diagnostic test results of this kitten and concluded it was “FIP”. Again, a necropsy is necessary IF there are inconsistencies that do not support the typical disease profile.  Or if the kitten owner choses to put the animal to sleep after minimal diagnostic testing citing “monetary constraints”.

Rescues commented as well, although the relevance with respect to the genetic component of FIP is lacking with cats of unknown origin. This page is about breeders, not rescues.

We have closed commentary on the original post and will not allow commentary on this post. This page is about helping PET BUYERS who are taken to the cleaners by bad breeders who do not take responsibility and hide behind whatever they can possibly hang their hat on to avoid a) having to cough up an replacement and b) having the “FIP stigma” associated with their cattery.  “Oh, without a necropsy you cannot be 100% certain. For all I know that kitten died from neglect or poisoning or lymphoma”.  If the pet buyer exhausted every single imaginable test to diagnose their kitten and this is the response they get from the breeder, that is the sign of a Bad Cat Breeder.  

BAD CAT BREEDER ALERT #2 – Lynda Ryskamp of Salems Pride Savannahs

On September 29, 2015, a pet buyer obtained a kitten from Lynda Ryskamp of Salems Pride Savannahs for the purchase price of $5,500.  Said kitten was born on July 16, 2015. Albeit not being given a contract, the buyer was told in an email that the kitten was guaranteed for one (1) year for any genetic defects.  Prior to pick up of the kitten, the buyer was told that an FeLV/FIV test was going to be performed on HER kitten.  Later on documents showed that the full litter mate sister was tested instead.  Editor’s note: generally accepted practice is to test one littermate and if said littermate is negative, it can safely be assumed that all other kittens are negative as well.  This information was not related to the buyer and she was led to believe her kitten was going to be tested.  This shows a first attempt to deceive on part of Ms. Rhyskamp. Almost immediately, the kitten started to show signs of upper respiratory illness.  On October 30, 2015 the kitten was first seen for signs of illness, including but not limited to a consistently very high fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, nasal and ocular discharge and general malaise.  This was followed by several more vet visits and prescription of antibiotics without any results.  On January 8 of 2016, a nasal swab was performed showing b-hemolytic strep (type of bacteria).  Most viral infections bring along at least one bacterial infection.  Administration of Convenia (antibiotic) brought no relief.  Several other antibiotics (metronidazole for diarrhea and doxycycline for the ongoing upper respiratory issues) also did not bring about a resolution of the symptoms.  On February 1, the buyer yet again sought the assistance of her veterinarian as the kitten had developed a grossly distended stomach while still running a high fever of 105F or higher.  Suspicious of FIP, the vet drew fluids and sent them to the lab for a specific PCR DNA test to either rule out or confirm this disease.  The results were made public in form of a report, dated February 5, 2016 showing that the fluids contained the FIPV biotype virus.  Testing positive for FIPV biotype virus shows that the otherwise harmless corona virus has mutated into the potentially disease causing FIP version. Cats without clinic signs are at higher risk of developing FIP.  Cats with clinical signs and other supporting blood tests have FIP. (Editor’s Note:  FIP is a routinely fatal feline disease that is attributed to a genetically incompetent immune system’s failure to mount a complete cell mediated response when confronted with a virus – original virus or a mutated form of the original). The kitten subsequently had to be humanely euthanized on February 2, 2016 to end its suffering. Bad Cat Breeders were given several piece of correspondence between the pet buyer and other people who had bought from Lynda Ryhskamp and lost their cat(s) to FIP as well.   As of the date of this article neither of these people have received a replacement and/or a refund.  Lynda Ryskamp has ceased any communication with the pet buyer. Since the passing of the kitten, Lynda Ryhskamp has advertised kittens out of the same mother (different sire) for sale.
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What is a Bad Cat Breeder?

The typical Bad Cat Breeder is someone who knowingly sells kittens that are sick, suffering from common parasites and diseases such as Calici.  They are easy to spot because their kittens look diseased, malnourished and  neglected.

There is an ever-growing contingent of Bad Cat Breeders that are very difficult to identify.  Their breeding cats appear to be very well taken care of and very healthy.  The breeder boasts show win after show win, top breeding lines and offers only the best of the best.  Interestingly enough, these breeders often have a strict "no visit" policy citing "threat of disease brought in from the outside" as a reason.  If more than one red flag goes up - you are most likely looking at a sophisticated version of a Bad Cat Breeder.

Only if things go wrong will you see who this breeder really is.  Communication often comes to a screeching halt. The breeder will accuse the buyer of wrong doing.  The breeder will insist on a costly necropsy even in the face of veterinary documents clearly diagnosing the pet with a genetic defect.  The breeder will offer no refund, no replacement or worse - threaten the buyer with legal actions if they do not "stop the slander".  

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