If you consider yourself a “dog person,” you are probably familiar with the term, “puppy mill,” but have you given any attention to kitten mills? Mostly any animal, especially species you might see in a pet store, can be milled (in other words, cruelly exploited for their aesthetic benefit to humans).
Some major cities have succeeded in placing bans on puppy milling, regulations and standards have been increased, and more people are becoming aware of the issues of purchasing pet store puppies. Have you checked out all of OGP’s posts on puppy mills?
Unfortunately, since puppy mills are becoming more exposed for their inhumane treatment of canines, many farmers are switching their businesses to breeding other species such as felines. How do they get away with this? Well, there is not enough talk on kitties!
The more we learn, the more we talk, and the more we educate, the more we care to take action against injustices to non-human animals. Let’s start by talking about our fuzzy (as well as hairless) feline friends. If a cat has ever been a member of your family, you probably understand how curious, intelligent, playful, humorous, determined, mischievous, and loving cats can be. Even if you have never had a relationship with a cat or never understood your kitty’s behaviors, every feline has a unique personality and it can be agreed that all cats are sentient beings, deserving of respect and compassion.
Why would anyone want to cause harm to such precious beings? Plus, aren’t cats and dogs vastly overpopulated? Why would there be a demand for mass-scale kitty production systems? Kittens that aren’t fortunate enough to be purchased by pet stores or into family homes are sold to laboratories or other testing facilities. Mass kitty breeding is a profitable business, similar to many other businesses that exploit animals. Kitten milling could actually be a multi-million dollar industry. Can you believe that it is estimated that over 90 percent of kittens in pet stores were born in kitten mills?!
So why should we be alarmed about kitten mills?
1. Kitten mills focus on quantity of kittens instead of quality of health.
Many are in-bred and often pass on genetic diseases. Overcrowding conditions of cats can result in impairment to emotional and mental development, skin sores and matting due to the inability to naturally groom themselves, and disease. The Animal Welfare Act has reported numerous inspection violations such as kittens being exposed to deadly diseases and unsanitary conditions. Kittens often receive minimal veterinary care, lack of natural lighting, poor quality nutrition, poor shelter, and no parasite control.
2. Cats are kept in tiny, wire cages.
To minimize labor of waste cleanup, like in puppy mills, kittens are often situated on wire flooring that can cause injuries to their feet and legs.
3. Adult cats are bred repetitively.
Responsible breeders will “retire” their females used for breeding at a young age, but farmers of kitten mills will continue to breed their cats at ages of six to ten years or older. Adults (both males and females) are confined to cages their entire lives until they are no longer able to reproduce. At this time, their lives are terminated, sold inexpensively, or released to a rescue group.
4. Kitten mill cats are poorly socialized
Kitten mills are often low-staffed to save money, so cats receive little human interaction, inadequate exercise and enrichment, and poor socialization. Kittens are often removed too early from their mothers, causing many to be developmentally impaired. Consumers will often buy kittens based on factors of cuteness and neglect to consider behavioral abnormalities.
5. Kitten mills contribute to pet homelessness and overpopulation.
the primary cause of death of healthy cats in the United States. While it is estimated that some mass-scale facilities contain hundreds of compromised cats to sell, approximately 25,000 healthy cats meet their life’s end every day if they are not quickly adopted. There are so many homeless cats in the United States that it is impossible to determine an accurate quantity, though guestimations range at numbers as high as 70 million.
6. There no restrictions preventing the creation of kitten mills.
A kitten mill might be your next door neighbor’s house! Anyone can mass-produce kittens and keep them in overcrowded, inhumane conditions.
7. Kitten mills are abusive and pay zero mind to the care of cats.
Kitten mills are systems that perpetuate the concept of human dominance over non-human animals. Cats are treated as marketable products instead of living sentient beings and maximization of sales has higher priority over feline well-being.
What You Can Do
If you’re concerned about these little kitties, you might be tempted to run out, make purchases, and open your home to free these victims of their misery. But wait! Purchasing kittens through kitten mill factories or pet stores only supports and encourages these businesses to continue producing more “animal commodities.”
Sadly, since many people are still buying kittens instead of adopting, it is estimated that 71 percent of cats in shelters are euthanized due to overpopulation according to the American Humane Association.
Oh and don’t worry about the cute little kitty you saw in the pet shop window. Businesses run off supply and demand. If kittens are purchased at a slower rate, pet stores will lose profits and purchase less animals. The eventual goal is to eliminate all consumer support of kitten mills, so that these corporations would no longer have adequate demand for motivation to continue breeding.
If you’d like to welcome a little kitty into your family, you can view the Humane Society of the United States’ suggestions for humane adoption choices by clicking here. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with OGP’s 5 Things YOU Can Do to Help Stop Puppy Mills (which can be applied to mills for kittens and other species). You have the power to save lives, but remember…with great power comes great responsibility!
Image source: Purebredcatrescue.org