Thursday, August 1, 2013

On pet store "pity buys"

I've done it. Have you done it?

Here is a story (click here) on a pet store pity buy.

There is only one solution to the pity buy, and that's never to go into a pet store at all. I used to go in to "check them out" and "be educated."

About (good God) at least 20 years ago, I stopped into a pet store one morning in Cortland (since defunct, thank goodness). I happened to be driving through. I was primarily checking out fish--I was big into fish tanks then. In the back was an old wire dog crate with a very scrawny lonely black kitten. Well, he was supposed to be black, but he was so malnourished his fur was rusty brown. He was absolutely emaciated. He had grade-level dry cat food (not kitten chow) and newspaper to lay on, and he was reaching desperately out the bars toward me.

You guessed it. I bought him. Fifteen bucks. No shots. The owner proudly mentioned he had been wormed. I'm ashamed to say that at the time I was not brave enough, after I handed over my cash and the kitten was safely mine, to give him more than a glare. I took him straight to the veterinarian on the corner, certain he would be FeLV positive since he looked so ill. When they learned where I gotten the kitten (I was not a client) they fit me in immediately. He was negative--surprise! I then went to the Cortland County SPCA and sat in their parking lot until they opened. I knew there could be no charges--the kitten had food and water, and that's all the law required. The pet store guy could easily have said he "rescued" the kitten (however the kitten should have been made healthy before being put up for sale). But I wanted them to see the kitten first hand. They were very nice. They said they'd had a lot of complaints, but nothing that would enable them to charge the place. I let them know they had one more.

I named him Moghi (for Moghadishu, where people were starving--probably not my most politically correct naming), and he was the fastest kitten I'd ever adopted out. One my way home with the kitten on my shoulder, I cut through Ithaca College and passed a security officer, who stopped when I stuck my hand out. She had previously mentioned she wanted a black kitten. She petted the rail-thin kitten through the window and promised it was "a go." So Moghi had a new home once he was healthy.

He got horribly constipated the new few days. I was sure I'd lose him. It's possible that in another person's care--who didn't realize what the problem was and what to do--he might have died. But he made it, and Moghi got his forever home.

A lot of pet-store purchases are pity buys. No caring person can easily turn their back on a pet in need, and that's what you are going to find in a pet-selling pet store.

So there's only one option.

Don't go in.

Have you done a pity buy (or pity adoption?) when you didn't intend to?


  1. i almost stole some cats at a road side peach stand once. i should have. i still feel badly about it.

  2. I never have, but am certainly thankful you did in Moghi's case. We refuse to go into pet-selling stores.

  3. My very first cat, Maggie, was a "pity adoption" from one of my clients when I was a case manager. He moved from one apartment to another apartment and just left her shut in the bathroom with a little bit of water. The light and a loud fan were on 24/7 and the floor was covered with newspaper that was stuck down with urine and feces. The litter box was filled up long before. This was in one of the hottest weeks in July. Luckily, we found out and managed to go get her out before she dehydrated to death. As it was, she had a thick rope of spit hanging off her lip when I went in there, and she drank the water I put down for her for what seemed like an eternity. I had always considered myself a dog person, not a cat person. I didn't really like cats. I hoped some day to get a house so I could get a dog. And the apartment that I was living in at the time and still had three months of a lease on did not allow pets. But I felt so sorry for her, I just had to take her. I promised her that she could live with me and I would take care of her until she died. She didn't have to be affectionate or "pet like," I would just consider it a boarding arrangement. Of course, it ended up to be more than that. I want to say in defense of my client, he was very mentally ill. He wanted to help animals, but his grasp on time frames and appropriate ways to handle things was nil. And he kept us out of parts of his apartment and was secretive about things, so we couldn't know or help him the way we should have.

  4. Actually, my last cat adoption was a pity adoption. When my heart cat, Woody, was put down last July after suffering from oral cancer, I felt I needed a young cat. All my current cats are over 10 years old and although nothing is guaranteed, chances are you will have a younger cat for a longer period of time. Went to my local Petsmart and casually looked at the cats that were available from a small rescue group. One cat stood out somehow. His name was Scruffy and was ear tipped. His sign said he had a hard life living with a feral colony but was tame and got along well with other cats. It also said he was around 6 years old. I asked a store worker about him and he said Scruffy was a regular and never got anyone looking at him. I also found out that while the workers were great about feeding and watering the cats and cleaning their litterboxes, the poor cats were never let out of the cages for exercise and Scruffy had been there for around a month. I asked to see him and they picked him up and put him in my arms. Just feeling him, I could tell he was old than 6 years old. Well, I just had to get him out of that small metal cage (he didn't even have a bed to lay on).

    Three days later I picked him up and brought him home. I changed his name to Possum and he acclimated well with my other cats. I even think he became the dominant cat in a very non aggressive way. The other cats just seemed to really respect him. When I first brought him home he could not use his back legs to jump up on anything. He just pulled himself up with his front legs. That got better in time and I think it was just a symptom of being in that small cage for so long. I brought him to my vet to get checked out and my vet estimated Possum was 14-16 years old. Did a bunch of testing and found out he had an enlarged heart, fluid in his lungs, a tumor on his thyroid and spots on his lungs and was in advanced liver failure (sigh). So he came back home with me and felt all I could do was hospice care for him. I ended up having to put him down in early January of this year.

    While I'm upset with the rescue organization and have let them know what happened, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Possum had five months of love, comfort, wonderful sniffs sitting in my various windowsills and all the food he could possibly want. I still remember his first night with me laying in the crux of my arm with his head on my arm purring away...

  5. But how lucky for the cat that you did that. I would not have been able to leave him either.
    I adopted a tiny kitten that had constipation the first night. I took a warm facecloth and rubbed his little butt gently with it. He then went to the box and got it all out and loudly announced just how good he felt.
    I loved him madly until losing him to feline cardiomyopathy at 16 months.

  6. I've never bought a cat but all of my adoptions are out of pity - LOL, is there anything else? One was ridiculously shy, she hid under her bed at events and under the couch when potential adopters came to meet her. Another was the only one of her litter who couldn't stand being touched and yet failed at being an outdoor cat. Then there was the one with FIV, the stray with cancer, blah blah blah. My rescue buddies know I am resistant to kitten-y cuteness but a total sucker for the hopeless case.