CatSmart, Singapore accused of selling very expensive fatally sick cats

NEWS AND COMMENT-SINGAPORE: CatSmart is a five-store chain of pet outlets in Singapore. As well as the usual pet store supplies, they sell purebred cats (claimed). When you buy a purebred cat from them you have to telephone or email but you can visit the store to have a look at the cats, or a sample of them. The first question is where the cats come from? Do they come from bona fide (genuine), registered cat breeders which are associated with a recognised cat association (e.g. TICA) or are they backstreet breeders creating non-pedigree cats claimed to be purebred? I’m just asking questions.

CatSmart store in Singapore
CatSmart store in Singapore. Screenshot from their website.
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They are questions worth asking because CatSmart is asking a lot of money for their cats. One customer decided to take to Facebook on July 27 to complain about CatSmart. She purchased three cats from them and all of them died of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) a well-known catastrophic, viral feline disease. The woman, Sofi Sui, accused CatSmart of selling her sick cats. CatSmart deny this. Click here to read about FIP in plain language.

Bought 3 cats from Catsmart
9 months ago n 5 months .. all died one after another due to deadly FIP that spread in the…

Posted by Sofi Sui on Tuesday, July 27, 2021

CatSmart say that they conducted an instore check on July 29 with the Animal and Veterinary Service provided by the National Parks Board. No sick cats, they say.

Sofi Sui paid 7,000 Singaporean dollars (US$5000) for a pointed, medium longhaired cat who she named ‘Prince’. The breed is unspecified and so we have to guess. If indeed Prince was a member of a cat breed. Prince looked quite cobby (a cat fancy word meaning chunky) and did not look like a longhaired Siamese cat which are called Balinese cats. Prince was not a Siamese cat due to the hair length.

When Sofi Sui complained to CatSmart she said that they were rude and offhand. In her Facebook post she says that the boss of the store said to her (in her own words): “boss don’t want to talk to u so just too bad or Sue us”.

Facebook users who have commented about her Facebook post, which is embedded in this article above, say that she should sue CatSmart and take up their challenge. This is unlikely to happen because the last thing people want to do is litigate i.e. take the matter to court where the outcome is going to be uncertain and the whole process is very trying and distressing.

Although clearly a lot of money changed hands. We don’t know whether she obtained all the usual documents and certificates that should be provided when you purchase a purebred cat from a registered cat breeder. The usual rules apply when purchasing a purebred cat: you must visit the breeder, ask questions, interact with the kittens, interact with their mother, check the documentation, check the contract, and so on. It is complicated but when you are adopting a purebred kitten you have to do due diligence because this is a lifetime commitment.

When you buy from a pet store you bypass all these checks unless CatSmart did provide her with the certification but this is not reported in the news media. But you still don’t see the breeder’s home.

Cat breeders in America and the UK often ship internationally and therefore a Singaporean in Singapore might be wise to purchase from these breeders. It means you can’t visit the breeder’s establishment but, on the face of it, it might be a safer bet to purchase that way than from a CatSmart in Singapore.

Apparently CatSmart sell British Shorthair cats for 7,000 Singaporean dollars. At US$5000 this seems expensive to me. One fifth of that would normally buy a decent British Shorthair cat in the UK or America. This, I would have thought, is another reason why you should think twice about purchasing a so-called purebred cat from CatSmart.

Another CatSmart customer commented on Sui’s Facebook post saying that she also had a problem with them when she purchased a cat. She said that her cat suffered from a very bad and persistent respiratory infection which flared up three days after she brought him home. She telephoned CatSmart for help but they brushed her off to use her words. They said that it was her fault that her cat was sick, saying, “Oh, since u brought the cat home, we aren’t responsible anymore. No return & refunds”.

She claims that all they care about is money. The woman spent a good five-digit sum of money in treatments over one to two years taking her cat to a variety of veterinarians to try and find out what was wrong. She describes a very bad experience. She claims that they “used blood money to open up more and more branches”. She advises that customers boycott CatSmart. Another cat store called Petmaster is under the CatSmart banner.

Another Facebook poster said that they had complained to the authorities (Nparks) and the response from them is shown below.

CatsSmart scandal
Response from authorities to complaint about CatSmart. Screenshot.

Conclusion: is difficult to know for sure what is going on here by reading Facebook posts but it looks very much like there has been malpractice. When you buy from a pet shop even if the shop is part of a large chain, you don’t know the source of the companion animal that you are buying or you don’t get to visit the breeder. And often puppy mills and kitten factories churn out these animals for pet stores in unhygienic and poorly managed facilities with a disregard for the health and welfare of the animals that they create and the cats who create them. In the UK, for instance, law is being created to prevent the importation of companion animals bred in this manner.

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