The law of contract concerning cats is, as you might expect, the same law of contract concerning any object, item or product. It is identically to the law of contract that governs a purchase at the checkout of a supermarket or when buying a car for example.
You don’t have to have an actual written contract when buying a cat. You don’t have a written contract when buying food from a store either.
However most (or many) purebred cat breeders will insist on the buyer signing a contract. Other transactions concerning the buying of a cat will probably not involve a formal contract. This does not mean that there is no contract. If the basic rules on the formation of a contract are present a contract will be construed to have been created.
The basic rule is that if there is offer and acceptance backed up by “consideration”, a contract has been created provided there is an intention to enter into a contract.
The word “consideration” usually means the handing over of money for the item bought. Consideration must be sufficient and be accepted by the seller. Scam transactions whereby the parties are trying to reduce the payment of tax for example, by one party paying an undervalue would undermine the contract.
The act of offer and acceptance is usually plain for all to see but that is not always the case. Uncertainty in the contracting process can lead to litigation (one party suing another in the civil court for damages for example).
An offer might be: “I’ll sell you my champion Ragdoll show cat for $1000. Is that OK?”
An acceptance might be: “I accept your offer. Lets shake on it.”
Without “express terms and conditions” (the terms of a contract written down and accepted by the contracting parties) the terms of a contract are “imported” through statutory legislation (laws created by the government).
What I mean is that if the people contracting in the sale and purchase of a cat make no mention of the terms of the contract or don’t even think about the transaction as a contract then the terms and conditions are to be found in the statutory legislation of the country concerned.
In the UK this will be the modern version of The Sale of Goods Act (legislation is constantly being written and changed so I can’t simply quote the Act out of memory). Other legislation may also have an effect on the contract.
It is wise for both parties to insist on a written contract that is fully understood and agreed before purchasing an expensive item.
You will notice that when buying a car or a piece of furniture that the seller, usually a large business, produces a contract. The buyer, usually an individual, has to sign it. He or she has no idea what is in the contract. The business is dictating terms to the individual who thankfully is protected by statutory legislation imported into the contract should it be onerous and unfair from the individuals standpoint.
Top quality purebred cats can be expensive – see for example Savannah Cat Prices – which leads to the conclusion that a written contract is the best course of action.
Contracts for the sale of a cat will be usually drawn up by the seller, who will also usually be a breeder. The terms may cover: not to declaw, to vaccinate, to keep the cat indoors, to care for the cat properly (specifying actions), a return of cat policy on proper veterinarian assessment (this will relate to health issues, usually), where litigation should take place if the buyer takes proceedings to recover monies paid. These are just examples.
The terms must be read through and complied with by both parties. Contracts are useful in one major way. They clarify the position of the parties to the contract and have a proactive action on their behavior. The contract should prevent misbehavior by one contracting party as breach of contract can result in damages.
Damages means compensation being paid to the party who has suffered the effects of a breach of contract by the offending other party.
Compensation can include the return of all the “consideration” (the money paid). It can return the parties to the position they were in before the contract.
Statutory legislation and/or the written contract should spell out what happens when a person is in breach of contract.
You may have to sue on a contract for the purchase of a cat. Click on the following link to read about that (an overview page): How To Sue on a Cat Contract