Most people have heard about puppy mills, but the large-scale breeding of pets for profit isn’t just restricted to dogs. Purebred cats are also victims of the mill trade, especially popular, high-demand breeds like Persians. (One notorious mill in North Carolina even kept wild cats called Servals, which were bred with domestic cats to produce an exotic hybrid called the Savannah.)
Mill kittens are sold to pet stores and individual buyers. Many mills (large and small) represent themselves as reputable breeders, appropriating terminology such as the kittens being “raised underfoot” in the home when they are actually kept in cages 24/7. Sadly, mill operations also sell cats to research laboratories for experimentation. Here are a few facts about kitten mills that all animal lovers should know about, courtesy of the website One Green Planet:
- Cats born in mills are often inbred and suffer from genetic diseases in addition to diseases caused by overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and lack of veterinary care.
- Like puppies, mill cats are also kept in small wire cages…including ones with wire bottoms that can hurt their feet.
- Adult males and females are bred constantly, often until they are 10 years old.
- Kittens from mills are removed from their mothers at very young ages and have received little, if any, socialization.
- Kitten mills are often less obvious than puppy mills, and can easily be hidden in a house that appears normal on the outside.
According to the organization Purebred Cat Rescue, reputable breeders care about their cats and would not keep them in inhumane conditions or sell them to pet stores. Be sure to check out any breeder very carefully before acquiring an animal. It’s best to choose a local, well-established breeder who welcomes potential owners into their home for a visit. Kittens purchased from pet stores and online ads could (and often do) come from mills. Consider adopting from a breed rescue if you’re interested in a particular kind of cat.