Help kittens being sold too soon in the Swindon area

Kitten on and legs
Some kittens in our community are being taken away from the nurture and safety of their mums and sold online for profit too soon. The first eight weeks of life are so important but sadly many tiny kittens have ended up in our care.

This winter, please donate to Swindon branch to give the most vulnerable kittens a fighting chance.

You can read more about the Eight Precious Weeks campaign here.

Do you know the signs of kitten miss-selling? Try our kitten care quiz.

Here are some examples of mis-selling and its consequences:


Dexter was the weight of just two cups of rice when he arrived in the care of our Oxford & District Branch.

The young cat had been mis-sold as an eight-week-old, ‘part-pedigree’, female online but upon arrival at his new home, the kitten, who was actually male, did not eat or drink for two days. Concerned, his owner contacted her local Cats Protection branch for help.

“Rather than being eight or nine weeks old as advertised, we estimated him at four or five weeks old,” said branch volunteer Gillian O’Neill. “It was also plain to see that he was not properly weaned and we agreed that we would take Dexter into care.”

When Dexter’s first owner tried to report the matter to the police, the online listing had been removed and previous methods of contact no longer worked. 

Through Dexter’s day and night syringe feeding and treatment of an eye infection that almost took his sight, his health finally stabilised and he found a new loving home with a family in Witney. It is likely that if the owner had not sought help as quickly as she did, Dexter would have died. 

Dexter is just one of an estimated 340,000 felines sold online in the last 12 months, some by unscrupulous dealers looking for quick cash by cutting short #EightPreciousWeeks of kitten social development.  


Mischief was trembling with a fever when she arrived with our friends at the Lichfield & Tamworth Branch. After a boom in online pet selling, local volunteer Sue took the call she’d been dreading: 

“A family who’d bought a female kitten from a local website wanted to promptly give them up for rehoming,” said Sue. “They had been told that the kitten was 10 weeks old, but when we collected her it was clear that she was much younger and was trembling in my hands.” 

At four weeks of age, Mischief was much too young to be separated from her mother and hadn’t been weaned. The seller had handed her over with a tin of adult cat food and a packet of biscuits; products that if fed to her would have caused her to choke. 

We fear there are many more underage kittens being sold online by unscrupulous vendors who are impatient to make a quick profit. These kittens can go on to have serious, life-threatening illnesses or be so poorly socialised that they’re not suitable as pets. They may then end up being handed into us at Swindon, or worse – abandoned to fend for themselves.

It took Sue two months of round-the-clock care to nurse Mischief back to health, care that is only possible for mis-sold kittens with your help. 


Cookie was only four weeks old when he was taken from his mother and sold. His owners had trusted the online advert that said he was old enough to live without his mum.

Cookie’s new owner soon realised that the tiny kitten had serious eye problems and after being overwhelmed with costly vet fees, took the hard decision to relinquish him into the care of our Glasgow Adoption Centre.

When he arrived it was a matter of life and death. Cookie was also seriously undernourished and needed round-the-clock care to survive. Despite our vets’ best efforts, they couldn’t save his sight. 

The team, many of whom were volunteers, did manage to nurse him back to health and find him his loving new home, once he’d learned essential cat skills. These social developmental milestones would have been learnt from his mother during his #EightPreciousWeeks: the critical window of time where learning to eat, groom, toilet and play gives kittens their best start in life. 

We wish Cookie’s story was a one-off, but this growing problem is endangering many more kittens, even in Swindon

Please donate to save the lives of kittens sold too soon, here: