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Thinking of buying a kitten? Read our advice on what to look out for when getting a kitten from a private seller or breeder.

Adopting a cat

If you’re keen to get a kitten, have you considered adopting one? Adopting a kitten or an adult cat is rewarding for both you and your new pet, especially if they’re looking for a much-needed second chance.

When you choose to adopt with Cats Protection, you can be sure that your new kitten or cat will be ready to go to their new home. They will also be, where possible:

  • health checked by a vet
  • treated for fleas and worms
  • vaccinated
  • microchipped
  • neutered
Find out more about adopting Cats Protection

Kitten Checklist

If you are going to buy a kitten from a breeder or a private seller, you’ll need to make sure that the kitten is well cared for and in good condition.

Cats shouldn’t be separated from their mothers until at least eight to nine weeks old and should appear bright, engaged and sociable. Download the handy Kitten Checklist for a comprehensive guide to what you should look for when you visit the breeder or seller.

Download the Kitten Checklist

Buying a pedigree kitten

When looking to get a pedigree kitten such as a Ragdoll, British Shorthair or another breed, here are some things you should consider before buying.

  • Do your research. Because of the smaller gene pool, some pedigrees are more likely to have certain hereditary diseases, so you could research what health conditions the breed of interest may be prone to, or if they have additional lifestyle or environmental needs
  • Give more thought before purchasing a pedigree cat with features such as flattened faces, deformed ears, and lack of fur. These exaggerated features can be detrimental to the cats' health and welfare and can cause them pain and suffering as well as potentially leading to expensive future vet bills
  • Seek out a registered breeder with a breed association such as the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). Organisations like the GCCF adhere to certain welfare standards and provide certificates and other proof of a cat’s pedigree and parentage
  • Be aware of sellers offering to post the certificate to you after you’ve bought the cat, in case you are being scammed
Find out more about getting a pedigree cat

Buying a kitten online

While it might be tempting to buy kittens advertised on social media, it isn’t recommended; many social media platforms have rules around the sale of pets, but some sellers will try to find a way around them. Social media websites are not set up to deal with pet adverts like some classified websites, so there may be a heightened risk of scams.

Care also needs to be taken when buying through online listings. It isn’t always possible to guarantee that the kittens listed are from a reputable breeder and your new feline friend could end up with future health issues. 

Some classified websites sign up to follow advertising standards set out by an organisation called the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG). These standards can help improve the welfare of pets sold online but you still need to do your checks before buying a cat. 

Does the seller have a licence?

If a seller is advertising regularly, they may be running a business. By law, commercial sellers must be licensed by the local authority. If you are looking to buy from someone who you think might be running a business:

  • keep an eye out for a licence number, this should be included in any online adverts if they are a commercial seller
  • research before buying, about the seller as well as the kittens themselves
  • if you are buying a cat in Scotland, there are separate requirements around licensing. Anyone breeding three or more litters of kittens a year is required to have a licence

What can I do if I have been scammed?

If you think you might have been the victim of a scam involving pet sales, report it to the police by calling 101 (only use 999 in an emergency), speak to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit their website. You can also find more information about reporting scams on the Citizens Advice website.

Be wary of buying kittens via video

Some sellers try to sell kittens by only showing a video and asking you to buy without seeing them first. You should avoid buying kittens purely based on a video as unscrupulous sellers can use this to their advantage, operating scams this way. In some cases, they may:

  • bring in adult cats alongside litters that aren’t theirs
  • show a litter of kittens for sale via video, then deliver a kitten from a different litter

To avoid being scammed, go and view the kittens and their mother in their home environment and make sure to ask lots of questions about the kitten.

Before you visit the kitten

Buying a pet is a big commitment, so it’s important to visit a cat before agreeing to purchase. 

If you ever feel you are being rushed into a decision around the purchase of a pet, be ready to walk away. Getting a pet is an emotional purchase and sadly, some unscrupulous individuals may look to exploit this.

When you communicate with the breeder or private seller over email or phone, think of some key questions to ask before you visit. It can be hard to resist an adorable kitten when you see them.

Find out as much as you can before visiting and you’ll have a chance to think about it if you have any concerns. Consider the following:

  • when was the kitten born?
  • will you be able to see the kitten with their mother?
  • does the kitten have brothers or sisters and do they interact with them?
  • is anything known about the father of the kitten?
  • is the kitten a specific breed?
For more guidance, check out Kitten Checklist

Ensuring the kitten has been socialised

Ensuring that a kitten has been appropriately ‘socialised’ is important when looking for kittens for sale.

Kitten socialisation happens between two and eight weeks old and helps in preparing them to cope with the human world.

There are a number of key things that your kitten should be gradually exposed to during this time such as having different people around, handling and various sounds.

Find out more about kitten socialisation

Visiting the kitten

Once you visit your potential kitten in their home, use the Kitten Checklist to guide you on things to look out for. You could consider questions such as:

  • can you see the kitten with their mother?
  • is the mother healthy and friendly?
  • are there any other cats and kittens in the home?
  • what is the kitten’s environment like? Is it clean?
  • does the kitten look healthy?
  • is the kitten friendly, or nervous and fearful?

Basic kitten care

Find out from the breeder or seller if the kitten has been vaccinated, neutered and microchipped. The kitten will need to be treated for worms and fleas. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to ensure you do this yourself.

Neutering, vaccinations and microchipping guide

Preparing for your kitten

Once you have visited your kitten and made the decision to buy, it’s time to get your home set up for your cat. Make sure you leave enough time to make preparations, as well as to go shopping for cat essentials.

Provide your cat with a quiet, comfortable space for them to get settled. It could be a spare bedroom or space in the house, anywhere that they can familiarise themselves with their surroundings before exploring the rest of their environment.

Ask the breeder or seller about the food and litter that your kitten has been using. Continuing with the same products if possible will ensure your kitten settles in well. You can also ask for some of their bedding as the familiar smell will be reassuring, especially when travelling. 

Find out more about preparing for your kitten in our guide
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