Bengals are wonderful and adventurous feline companions. Recently, Bengals have gained popularity due to their striking appearance and unique demeanor. The cost of a Bengal is not a cheap investment. Scammers know the market for Bengals and use this to attract eager adopters. There are key risk factors and indicators that a bad actor is looking to execute a scam.
Obtain Recent Pictures and Videos
A scammer will not take frequent or recent pictures. They will often steal photos from legitimate sites and Facebook groups. Make sure you ask for new pictures and videos. Weekly and biweekly media are not too much to ask. Analyze the living conditions and background. Many scammers will illegally use multiple breeder pictures and the backgrounds will differ. Check for watermarks and sometimes use an EXIF data parser. https://exifdata.com/ Every photo has a geographical location, including device information. If the geolocation does not match the area of the breeder, inquire about it. Smart scammers will scrub the EXIF data from a photo. Another way to ensure a genuine photo is ask for a picture of the kitten with the current date written in the photo on a sheet of paper.
Look Up the Breeder’s Name
See if the breeder is a real company or person on Facebook or other social media platforms. Scammers often use fake names and pictures. If the social profile is new with a low number of friends, it could be a scammer. Breeder’s should have a professional website other than social media accounts.
Ask the breeder for 2 - 4 references, including pictures of successful adoptions. A good breeder will be TICA certified or a member with their cattery listed on the web site. Many breeders have social media and websites of previous / current cat owners from their cattery. Also, ask for Vet information and how long they have been in business.
Application Process and Contract
A good breeder will have an application process to ensure their kittens will be living in a happy home. A comprehensive contract should be produced that contains health, financial, adoption, declawing, and food preparation procedures. Be aware of kittens that are listed for too good to be true prices such as $500.00 or $700.00. Run if you see a Bengal for less than 1200.00. The cost may be enticing but it is no where near the cost to raise a kitten. The low selling price is lure for eager buyers. Remember, the price for the kitten goes for not only the living condition, toys, supplies, health, food, and genetic workup of the kitten and parents.
Never pay via western union or money gram. Once the money is sent, there is no way to retrieve it. Submit payment using PayPal, credit card, Klarna, or any electronic payment that has dispute resolution services. Never pay for the entire balance for a kitty all at once. Scammers will often want full payment in one transaction. Also, use a credit card instead of direct cash payments or debit. Credit card purchases can be disputed easier.
Kitten Health Checks
Ensure all vaccinations are done, including a genetic check for (HCM, PkD, PRA). Genetic labs will include PKD and PRA-b tests. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is assessed with a transthoracic ultrasound which the breeding parents should be screened from a Vet cardiologist every 6 months - 1 year. A kitten should see the veterinarian before pickup or delivery. A good breeder will never let a kitten leave before 14-16 weeks. A kitten needs to be correctly weened and healthy enough to undergo a significant change in its environment. Make sure to ask about vaccines, stool sample results, deworming, and vet records. Most breeders have contracts with health guarantees. Make sure the kitten is a healthy weight , size, free of signs of infection ( fur, skin, eye, ears, etc).
Cat Environmental Conditions & Behavior
The environment of a cattery should be clean and clear of debris. In pictures check of unsanitary conditions. Various methods to mitigate male spraying is undertaken. Males are prone to spray and may be kept in different dwellings from the main population. Make arrangements to meet the kittens in person for a visit.
Kitten should be playful, well socialized, and used to human interaction. Anxiety can be prevented if the kittens are used to human touching and playing. Look for overly shy and skittish kittens. It could be a reflection of their environment.
How Breeders can avoid scams
Breeders can take measures to avoid scams. Avoid accepting checks or cash as the risk of fraud may be high. Check for social media profiles and obtain references from vets and friends.
Taking into considerations all the suggestions above and due diligence is the best way to avoid getting scammed by a false Bengal breeder. Be sure to discuss your decision with your family and significant other for suggestions and recommendations on the adoption of your new furever family member. The breeder will not rush you to make a decision; however, remember there may be other interested buyers so they may give you a deadline for a decision if there is another interested party.
I am a breeder…. a breeder on a mission to educate buyers on how to stay away from scammers & horrible breeders. My first kitten was a massive scam by a Bengal breeder in Michigan. Horrible experience.
So, may I have permission to copy some of your article to stay away from scams. I breed Orientals now. Www.KnowMoreCats.com
I want to add some of this to my website 🙏.
Thank You for your time & kindness .
Advocate of cats 🐾
Thanks. I adopted my older Bengal so have no idea what to ask a breeder. Wish she still had her front claws. Glad to see that declawing should not be allowed.
Love my girl she is the best