We also sell Peterbald cats. Just $300. Bargain basement prices. Location: PHOENIX AZ , CA, 85003, United States. Our cats are vaccinated and spayed/neutered. We provide a written sales agreement, written health guarantee, health records, 6-week insurance policy and a care manual. “The cats were all born and raised in our home and are very friendly”.
The title is a typical advert on the internet. Note that it is all in lower case and a bit of a mess to be honest, because this is often how the adverts are presented. The photograph accompanying the advert is a serval kitten:
You will also see adverts in which the seller says “TICA Registered Serval”. A serval is a wild cat and TICA is concerned with domestic cats. As far as I am aware TICA do not register wild cats. Wrong? Please tell me in a comment.
The question is: Is this good or bad? Should people criticise these people or jump in and buy? Such a good price, after all.
What I find very surprising is that the cats are a mix of wild cat hybrid (Savannah and Bengal), purebred (Peterbald) and wild cat (ocelot, serval and caracal). I would be very surprised if a breeder is breeding these wild cats and Peterbalds. The Peterbald is a very rare partially hairless purebred cat. In general, wild cats don’t do well in captivity and don’t breed well in captivity. It must be difficult to breed them. So what is going on? Are they simply importing the wildcats and saying that they are bred at their cattery?
That is what I think is happening. In which case I would allege that there is misrepresentation by the seller and they cannot be trusted. My reaction is that this is very bad for the wild cats. If these prices are real they are extraordinarily cheap. Why so cheap? Are wild cats that cheap? Maybe they are. I have seen $1000 for small wildcats. These are similar prices to purebred cats. If wild cats are this cheap, it is a poor reflection on what is going on – lots of trading. There cannot be a shortage of these cats.
The prices and the whole feeling of the advert tells me that this is a person trading in wild cats with a total disregard for the wild cat species and its conservation. It is simply an abuse of potentially endangered small wildcats. They are nothing less than a commodity to be used for financial profit. The world should have moved on from that mentality.
The caracal, serval and ocelot are all classified as “Least Concern” by the Red List, although we should recognise that assessments as to threats to survival in the wild are imprecise. There is no doubt that the general trend in respect of the survivability of these cats in the wild is downwards.
Trading wild cats on the internet and selling to buyers who are unskilled in caring for wildcats is the sort of thing that erodes the status of the wild cats, an abuse of wildcats and an extension of what happened no so long ago: the mass killing of the ocelot in particular for its skin to make coats. Interestingly, if you search for “ocelot for sale” in the UK you come up with ocelot coats from the 1930s! The manufacture of ocelot coats is now banned but old ones can still be traded.
International trade in the ocelot and the Asian caracal is banned under CITES Appendix 1. Does CITES stop trade? I don’t think so, as enforcement is poor. There would seem to be a general disregard of the restrictions under CITES.
The internet trade is small wildcats is wrong. There needs to be regulations in place to control it. Beware of people offering ocelots for sale on the internet at cheap prices and promising the earth while sounding very professional. Never buy at distance and never from someone living in Africa (sorry that is not racist – just sensible). Never pay money up front no matter how much you are tempted. There is a very good chance that you will lose the money and the seller will disappear. In fact don’t buy ocelots and small wildcats at all. All you are doing is gradually undermining the status of the cat in the wild because of some whim that you fancy “owning” a wild cat. It is clearly poor behaviour.
Associated page: Was the release of dozens of exotic animals a freak event?