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Home > Cats > What Is a Kitten Mill? Complete Guide & How to Identify One

What Is a Kitten Mill? Complete Guide & How to Identify One

cat shelter

It may not be pleasant to think about but most of us have heard the unfortunate tales of puppy mills. Yes, things are being done to try to put a stop to these heartless breeders, but don’t forget about our kitties. Just like puppy mills, kitten mills are out there. Knowing that kittens are growing up in bad conditions is terrible, but there are ways you can step in and do your part to help kitties around the world.


How Does It Work?

A kitten mill is a place where people breed purebred kittens with only profit in mind. Inside these mills, you’ll find kittens in cramped, dirty, and unsanitary situations. Living in their own waste is a common trait for these mills. The kittens are often sold to pet stores or people online, at high prices. More often than not, the kittens in question deal with psychological and physical issues due to their time inside the mills.

How these breeders turn their operations into what is referred to as a mill is by using the cats that aren’t sold to breed more kittens. As the kitten ages, they will be used to breed as many cats as possible. Once they are too old and no longer making the breeder money, they are either given away or, in worst case scenarios, killed. As the kittens born of these cats fall into the same cycle, the kitten mill continues.

Three kittens in a cat carrier
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

What Are the Different Types of Kitten Mills?

It is difficult to pinpoint the different types of kitten mills as anyone could be running one. We’ve all heard talk about reputable breeders and the dreaded backyard breeders. Unfortunately, even breeders with great reputations can be housing a kitten mill as the backing of their business. Kitten mills can be operated as large-scale businesses, in a person’s backyard, the basement, or even in their homes.

Several kitten and even puppy mills have been associated with pet stores. This is due to many pet stores simply purchasing purebred animals without checking whether the conditions they are bred in are adequate. With kitten mills being all across the country, even the world, it is difficult to determine where your kitten is coming from unless you visit the breeder’s establishment in person. The only way to truly avoid a kitten mill is to adopt one of the many kittens you’ll find in local rescues and shelters. You can even find cats that have been discarded by breeders once they are no longer viable in these places.

divider-catHow to Identify a Kitten Mill

There are several ways you can identify a kitten mill. Let’s take a look at a few of the things you should keep your eyes open for when trying to select a reputable cat breeder.


While not every state requires a cattery license, they can be beneficial when searching for a reputable breeder. However, you can still find a good breeder without a license. If you feel better choosing a breeder that is licensed, by all means, work with them. You should still ask questions about their cattery, and the cats they raise, and visit the cattery if possible.

Multiple Breeds

One sign a breeder you are speaking with is running a kitten mill is multiple breeds in one cattery. You may also notice that they claim to have champion bloodlines but have no proof of this claim. A truly reputable breeder would have all documentation on hand for when a potential buyer asked questions. They also prefer to work with one particular breed to ensure quality breeding. If multiple purebred kittens are on sale at one location, most likely it is a kitten mill.

3 different colored cats sitting on balcony
Image Credit: gon4, Shutterstock

Grants Breeding Rights Easily

If you’ve ever dealt with purebred cats, breeding rights are not easy to acquire. Especially for cats that people purchase to be pets and not show cats. Breeding rights help breeders ensure the quality of their line and fight against an unwanted cat population. If the breeder you’re considering offers breeding rights easily, or without a lot of questions, you may be dealing with a kitten mill.

Price Has Nothing to Do with Standard

Kitten mills aren’t concerned with the health of the kittens they sell, or the genetic health of the breed they claim to care about. Instead, money is the most important aspect of working with these breeders. They will sell kittens that are sick or suffering from issues. They may even sell kittens that don’t meet breed standards at regular prices.

Shelter cat
Image By: Mimzy, Pixabay

Refusing Visitors

Breeders running a kitten mill would prefer no one ever visit their establishment. Their cattery is normally full of kittens and older cats of breeding age. You may find up to 100 cats and kittens inside a kitten mill. It’s similar to what you’d find in a hoarding situation. The cats kept in these horrid catteries are often very sick, withdrawn, living in their own filth, and made to share cramped quarters with several other kitties.

No Veterinarian Records

Before selling a kitten, a truly reputable breeder will supply the potential buyer with health care information. This is an ideal way of determining their legitimacy. If you ask to see the kitten’s current checkup information and it can’t be provided, don’t trust the breeder in question.


How to Stop Kitten Mills

You may feel there is nothing you can do to help when it comes to kitten mills but that simply isn’t true. As animal lovers, there is always something we can do to help put an end to the mistreatment of animals. If you identify a kitten mill or want to help put a stop to them, here are a few ways you can aid the kittens inside so they get the love and care they deserve.

  • If you feel a breeder you’ve been in contact with or know is running a kitten mill, contact the authorities immediately
  • Urge your local pet store to stop selling animals and to focus more on adoptions
  • Ask your local lawmakers to make stronger laws against animal cruelty
  • Don’t shop at pet stores that sell cats and dogs
  • Most importantly, adopt, don’t shop when it comes to kittens
Girl and woman cat owners holding cats in shelter to adopt
Image By: BearFotos, Shutterstock


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I tell if my breeder runs a kitten mill without a visit to the cattery?

While not being able to visit the cattery should be your first clue that the breeder may not be legit, there are other red flags you can watch out for.

  • The breeder doesn’t use the phone, only texts and emails
  • The breeder’s website isn’t professional and includes bad grammar
  • They refuse to accept credit cards
  • They offer to meet you somewhere like a gas station
  • The breeder comes up with additional costs such as extra shipping or crate fees

What should I expect from a kitten bought at a kitten mill?

Unfortunately, cats bought through kitten mills are prone to having several medical issues. You’ll also find that they lack any training or socialization. According to how they were treated, these cats could exhibit behaviors like anxiety or fear. You may also find that they are very defensive around people.

scared kitten hiding
Image By: Khamidulin Sergey, Shutterstock



Without a doubt, kitten mills are a horrible part of life. While it may be nice to pretend these terrible breeding practices aren’t happening, it’s not an option. Instead, it’s time to do our part as pet lovers to ensure the safety of kittens. Hopefully, this information and tips will help you identify a kitten mill if you find one. More importantly, hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of what you should do.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

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