Spotting Scammers

Updated: Mar 16

We’ve been concerned with the number of people who have told us about being scammed while trying to buy a kitten. Either they send a Venmo and the person disappears, or they are told they have to pay extra fees before pick-up, given excuse after excuse, and never get a kitten.

Worse is when they buy a kitten that is unhealthy and the breeder won’t do anything, or the kitten dies within a month of two. I had someone tell me she bought a kitten from a mill in rural Pennsylvania and it died within a few days. She knew it was a bad idea, but felt sorry for all the cats and kittens in cages and wanted to “rescue” it. The breeder told her to come back to pick a second kitten at “half price.“

If you are seeking a pet and come across a kitten mill where the cats and kittens are encaged, please notify animal control. Cats do not belong in a cage. This will cause long term psychological problems and kittens born in crowded, unsanitary conditions cannot be healthy- physically or mentally. Under no circumstance should an animal abuser reap any reward from this abhorrent behavior.

Now that pet stores can no longer sell animals that aren’t rescues from the shelter system (at least that’s the new law in NY), the only way to get a full-breed Siamese is through a breeder. There are not too many of us in the tri-state area. Some people have tried to make a home cattery business, and found out the hard way how difficult it is to sustain. It’s not simply putting two cats together. The dam and sire must be breeding quality but it’s very difficult to find a breeder to trust you to help you get started in the business.

It is also difficult to find a trustworthy breeder in general. There are many, many scammers. Here is some advice to avoid being scammed while searching for a kitten.

First, avoid Craigslist. Reputable breeders respect their policy of only allowing posts for rescues. You may luck up and find a Siamese rescue, but you have to ask yourself why they don’t have a home. Siamese are in hot demand and even adults have resale value of a few hundred. Why would someone dump a Siamese in a shelter and not try to sell it?

The best place to find a kitten is on Hoobly. That is the only place I pay for ads. It has a strong web presence. This of course is a big draw to scammers. But it is easy to protect yourself by following these steps:

First, look at the year the person became a member. Multiple years’ membership means they haven’t received a scam report. Hoobly is pretty good at shutting down scammers as soon as there is a report. However scammers reinvent themselves with new accounts.

Second, make sure there are plenty of pictures posted. If you see only a few that are fuzzy, move on.

Third, read the listing carefully. If it’s devoid of pertinent information, move on. If it looks like it’s copy and pasted (from my ad, especially), move on.

Fourth, look to see if the breeder has a web presence outside of Hoobly, like a social media account or website. If they don’t- huge red flag.

Fifth, when you send them a message, do they invite you to email or text so they can give additional photos and information? If not, move on. But be aware breeders do get many crank messages through Hoobly themselves, so they may want to go through a vetting process before allowing for direct contact. That’s one reason we started our new application procedure, in addition to wanting a system to find the right owner for the right cat.

Sixth, when it comes time to make a deposit make sure it’s a PayPal business account with fraud protection. Once you Venmo, you’re not getting that money back. It’s considered to be a gift when sent. Yes, you might have something in writing or text indicating why you sent the money, but good luck suing someone you can’t find. Police won’t do a thing and your bank won’t either. A reputable breeder will provide you with an invoice with terms & conditions before you remit payment.

Seventh, do your research on the breed before searching for one. CFA and TICA have a pdf of the breed standards so make sure you review this to ensure you are getting a true Siamese. Registration papers can be faked or sold on the black market. Siamese standards can’t be faked.

If a kitten is not 100% purebred, there will be a tale-tale sign somewhere. The most common is white in the color points. The mask, feet and tail should not have a bit of white unless your kitten has the rare spotting gene. In that case, the very tip of its tale will have some white, but that will be almost invisible by age one. A breeder will point this out if they happen to have one. I’ve had three!

Also all Siamese have blue eyes. If the eyes are any other color, it’s not a Siamese. Babies have gray eyes, but they will be blue before you take them home.

Siamese are the only cats that can crook the last joint of their tails.

Eighth, be aware that there is no such thing as a Siamese “snowshoe,” “ragamese,” “flame point,” or “chocolate seal.” I’ve seen a lot of ads for these. The original cats that came from Siam are Seal only. They have been interbred to achieve the genes for Chocolate, Blue and Lilac points. These are the only officially recognized points. Lynx and Tortie are becoming more mainstream, but they are not officially recognized. You should never pay Siamese pricing for a cat that doesn’t meet breed standards.

I also get a good laugh when I see people putting a Siamese with another breed and charging my same price. Mixed kittens are basically worthless. People should not be in the breeding business to try to make a quick buck off the backs of defenseless animals. Breeding should only be to propogate the breed to keep it from going extinct. Once a Siamese mixes with another kind, you’ll never get the Siamese back. Why would anyone create more mongrels when the shelters are full of unwanted animals? Greed breeders are the lowest of the low.

Final piece of advice is don’t buy a cat if you don’t like the breeder. Cats are an extension of the humans that raise them, so if the breeder is rude, nasty, sneaky or just plain crazy - think about how that influences the kittens. I won’t sell my cats to someone that raises any red flag whatsoever. Make sure you give the same scrutiny to your potential breeder.

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