Adopting rescue cats and dogs from Pets At Home (a major pet store chain, UK)

Pets at home an outlet for adopting rescue cats

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Is it good or bad to adopt a rescue cat from a well-established, large, national pet store chain that has warehouse-sized facilities in retail parks across the UK? Pets at Home have gone into partnership with major animal charities such as the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs And Cats Home and Cats Protection. People have different views about this concept. For years, people have wanted to see an end to the selling of kittens from pet shops so this seems like a backward step. But is it?

Well, the first thing that I note about this story is that the online newspaper, the Daily Mail, states that rescued cats are being “sold” from a giant pet store chain, Pets at Home.

People who adopt a rescue cat pay an adoption fee. As far as I am concerned that is not a purchase price. The adoption fee is an amount of money paid so that the rescue centre can meet their overheads. They are non-profit organisations and therefore I think it is incorrect to say that rescue cats are being sold at this pet store.

Also, these are rescued cats. They are not cats turned out by the thousands by kitten factories or puppy mills, call them what you like, for profit. There is a big difference in (a) breeding cats for sale in large numbers at pet shops and (b) maximising the chances of an unwanted cat being rehomed by presenting them to the maximum number of potential adopters.

On that assessment, adopting a rescue cat that comes from Cats Protection through Pets at Home is a good thing. Let’s remember too that Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home have excellent track records of rehoming cats. I trust their judgement (although they have made the odd mistake in the past, in my opinion).

The downside is that adopting cats and dogs through a commercial organisation as big as Pets at Home might encourage selling cats and dogs at pet shops. In a way it endorses the processes.

Some senior people disagree with it, such as the past president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. And some Cats Protection people also dislike the idea.

It is a balancing act between the positives, which is rehoming more unwanted cats and dogs and the negative which is giving the impression that cats and dogs are products for sale.

If the in-store marketing is clear and it is made clear to customers that this is a rehoming service in partnership with these well known and large animal charities then, my position is that, I agree with it. I am not saying I am correct. These are just my immediate thoughts on reading the story that Ruth (aka) kindly pointed out to me today.

Two lasts points – (a) as I recall, the big animal charities are having difficulties in rehoming all the unwanted cats and dogs. This is a solution to that difficulty and (b) Pets at Home are already involved in raising funds for animal charities they state.

In the USA I believe it is fairly commonplace to see rescue cats up for adoption in shopping malls and stores etc. but I’d like confirmation of that from our American friends if possible.

Photo: by Philandthehound

16 thoughts on “Adopting rescue cats and dogs from Pets At Home (a major pet store chain, UK)”

  1. Debbie Connolly of Safe Pets asked CP some questions:

    I’d like to thank Cats Protection for responding to my Media request to have questions answered. As promised, here are my questions and their responses:

    Will the cats be left in store overnight unattended?

    The cats will remain in the store at night as moving them in and out of the store each day would cause them unnecessary stress. Only ‘ready to home cats’ that have been checked by a vet and given a clean bill of health will be placed in the centre. Comprehensive fire and burglar alarm systems are installed at the Pets at Home store. Should there be an incident, these alarms will immediately alert either the police or the fire brigade. Both organisations hold emergency contact details for Pets at Home and CP staff who can get to the sore at short notice if necessary. These security arrangements are as good as those we have in place at CP’s adoption centres.

    Do PAH receive any of the donation paid?

    No, the adoption fee that we receive whenever a cat is adopted goes directly to CP to enable us to carry on helping more cats in need.

    Will home checks always be done in the 24 hours between someone paying for the cat and collecting it?

    Potential adopters will go through the same process as they would when adopting from any CP centre, ensuring people cannot buy a cat on impulse. Last year we reviewed our rehoming processes and in particular our approach to home visits. We now take a more flexible approach meaning in some cases a home visit will be carried out, other times not – every adoption is looked at individually. Whether or not a home visit is carried out will be decided by the local CP branch or adoption centre because they are best placed to make those decisions. As well as home visits we are now also using a mixture of questionnaires, discussions with potential adopters and also technology such as Google maps to check for busy roads near potential adopters’ homes. Our aim is to match the right cat to the right home. This more flexible approach makes it as smooth and easy as possible for people to adopt a cat from us and also to ensure that we use our limited resources in the best possible way without compromising cat welfare. We aim to complete the homing process as quickly as possible, depending on when prospective owners are available to have further discussions and/or a home visit if needed.

    Are cats always homed neutered, chipped and vaccinated?

    Yes, every cat that is adopted from CP will have been examined by a veterinary surgeon and will be microchipped, vaccinated, neutered if old enough and comes with four week’s free insurance. We provide these benefits and treatments so people don’t have to deal with these important issues following adoption, which is a big plus for money-conscious owners.

    Will CP staff or volunteers be with the cats during all of the opening hours?


    • Ruth, is this the way your comment should look? The reason why it was not published immediately is because it contains links and therefore the software automatically holds it for moderation.

      • Thanks Michael, yes that’s the bit I copied to paste here and I realised after I’d clicked ‘post comment’ it had copied a whole lot more on the same page and that was why it had to wait for moderation.
        Thanks for sorting it out 🙂
        I think those question and answers explain a few things more clearly.

  2. This sort of situation may not be as ideal for the UK as it is in the US where cats are coming out of the woodwork. Anyone wanting a cat, just has to pick one up from a street, store parking lot, or around a restaurant.

    In my area, the rescue groups really struggle to adopt out to suitable people. They have to present an “attractive package” (health screening, spayed/neutered, vaccinations, etc) that justifies their adoption fee and offers peace of mind to potential adoptees that a cat is healthy.
    The rescue groups that set up at major pet stores here are a godsend to cats.

  3. Marc the vets interesting opinion:
    ‘Anger as charities sell off rescue cats at giant pet superstores after years of campaigning against the sale of animals in shops’ Very interesting this one particularly as these 3 charities were the only 3 refusing to support the Pup Aid petition. Personally I think it’s a disastrous step backwards for animal welfare giving strong message that it’s OK to sell pets in pet shops’


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