Mercedes wrapped up looking snug in a blanket

Warning after online sales kitten dies

Blue Cross is warning people to beware of unscrupulous online pet sellers after vets were unable to save a weeks old kitten who was rushed into our care.

Kittens Marco and Mercedes arrived at our animal hospital in Victoria, central London, just two weeks after they were bought online.

Vets found six-week old Marco weighed just 570g and was dehydrated and riddled with fleas and worms. He was immediately put on a drip in a bid to rehydrate him and treated by the team for suspected flea anaemia.

Their owner sought vet treatment just a week after getting the kittens as they had diarrhoea and were not eating, but had to contact Blue Cross days later to give them up as they couldn’t afford another visit to their private vets.

Tiny Marco sat down looking poorly
Sadly Marco was so weak, vets could not save him

Marco was put on a drip and treated by the team at Blue Cross, but sadly he did not pull through as he was so weak and kept collapsing, so the team were unable to stabilise him.

After a week of care in the hospital, his sister Mercedes was transferred to a Blue Cross foster home where she quickly began to improve and was found a new home once she was strong enough.

Amanda Rumball, London Welfare Officer at Blue Cross, said: “It’s heartbreaking because these tiny kittens were taken away from their mum far too young. We would never advise rehoming kittens under the age of eight weeks.

“The owners did what they could for these tiny kittens, but poor Marco was so weak the team were simply unable to save him. Luckily his sister Mercedes has managed to battle through.

“Unfortunately, pet scammers are continuing to look for every opportunity to cash in on demand for pets wherever they can with no thought for the animal’s welfare.”

Black and white kitten Mercedes looking into the camera
Mercedes was saved and is now in a happy home

Our hospital in Victoria also recently treated a 10-week-old Sphynx kitten for sickness and diarrhoea a week after he was bought online, while sadly a newborn puppy believed to be just days old - found abandoned in a park with his umbilical cord still attached - sadly passed away despite care by the team at hospital.

With demand for pets at an all-time high, prices for a puppy have jumped to an average £1,883, while prices for kittens range from between £400 for a crossbreed to £2,500 for pedigree breeds.

A survey by Blue Cross found almost a third of people are looking to take on a new pet in 2021, and almost one in five said they were likely to look online for their new pet.

Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross, said: “Unscrupulous breeders and sellers are taking advantage of the increased demand for puppies and kittens. And, where responsible breeders have been stopping, or reducing breeding due to concerns over being able to find the right homes ethically, criminals have been taking advantage.

“Many buyers are simply not receiving the pet they think they have bought and many are also purchasing ill, or even dying animals as criminals just look to make money and exploit the current environment, with no welfare concern. We can’t stress enough how people need to do their research.”

Alison Thomas, Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross, said: “Prospective pet owners must beware of sinister sellers out there who breed animals purely for profit with little concern for their welfare. The devastating consequences include crippling vet bills and, in the worst cases, animals having to be put down.

“It’s vitally important that people not only research the breed of animal they want but also the person selling it to them.”

— Page last updated 10/05/2021