Kittens sold online for £300 after price hike during pandemic - pets bought at those inflated prices ‘will be used for breeding’
The founder of a NI Cat charity has told of her fear that people who pay £400 for a kitten online “will want to get their money back by breeding her”.
Deborah Donnell, who founded Claws in Kilkeel - a family run independent rescue centre who take in strays and ferals - said “the price of cats has been rising on places like Gumtee since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“This has been going on since last year, since lockdown hit and people could see this was a way of making money,” she said.
“The price of kittens started going up after people saw how much money dogs were able to be sold for.
“And I would say the price of kittens only started to escalate relatively recently”.
This comes after we revealed that dogs were selling for three and four times the former asking price during the pandemic.
Ads on social media and Gumtee hope to sell kittens for at least £200.
On Gumtree kittens (tabby cats) are advertised at locations around NI from £200 - £400.
But pedigree breeds of kittens are being advertised for £1,200.
One ad says: “Beautiful Maine Coon kittens for sale. £1,200.”
Deborah added: “We don’t agree with giving kittens away free purely because anybody will take anything for free.
“What we like to do is charge £75 and that includes the kittens vaccinations, a full health check and getting neutered and spayed when they are rehomed.
“We always say to people that if you don’t want the money for a kitten then donate it to a charity, but always charge a price when you are rehoming a cat or kitten. And do a home check to see that they are going to a good home”.
Deborah, who now has around 40 cats in her care, said her prime concern is that people who buy kittens for £400 “will want to get their money back”.
“A lot of people will see high price kittens as an investment and will want their money back,” she said.
“And they will breed those cats and kittens so it is a vicious cycle. Then we end up with back yard breeders just like we do with dogs.
“The gestation period of a cat is nine weeks and ideally the mum will look after a cat or kitten for about eight weeks when they are fully weaned and can start socialising but more often than not cats go back into heat and get pregnant again. The mating process for a cat is incredibly painful in the first place and then they get pregnant, have to carry kittens around and then feed them.
“So as cute as kittens are it is not a happy process for a cat”.
She added that anyone on benefits should take advantage of the fact it only costs £5 “to get your cat spayed and neutered at the Cats Protection League”.
She added: “If you have a litter of kittens it could cost you £300 from the day they are born to the day they are rehomed.
“And if anyone wants to spend hundreds on a non pedigree that’s fine, but make sure they have had regular vet checks, vaccinations and regular worming and ask if any other health checks are done,” added Deborah.
“You could spend hundreds to get a sick and dying kitten”.
A message from our editor: Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.