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Legal Breeder/Buyer Contract Issues


Savannah Super Cat
Hi all,

if a contract is in place that guarantees the health of the pet and states that the breeder should replace the cat if it dies within a certain period etc. How is the "buyer" supposed to proceed? What are the "buyer"s rights?

Also - if all the evidence indicates genetic and auto-immune issues.. but the breeder is completely arguing against this, do you have thoughts on how to proceed in a way that does not escalate the situation? I do not wish this to happen to someone else :(


Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
It can depend on how the guarantee is worded. That is why it is SO important to read a contract before purchasing and making sure you are clear on the terms.

Some health guarantees are voided by giving certain vaccines for example.

Some guarantees require that if your pet dies within a certain time, a necropsy must be performed and a pathology report submitted to the breeder for the replacement. Some might require the appropriate specialist to give a report. So it does depend on the contract. And if you don't get a necropsy (for example you are simply too distressed to think straight and agree to cremation without thinking of doing a necropsy first), then your contract is void also.

Without knowing the details, it is hard to really comment. Auto-immune disorders can be really hard to pinpoint and diagnose with certainty after all..

But in some cases, even if the case falls outside the written word of the contract, a breeder can still choose to do the "right" thing, the contract should be a minimum standard of care...

I'm so sorry too, it sounds like you lost your kitten/cat and that is heartbreaking :-(

In terms of addressing the issue, writing a certified letter that includes all relevant data can be a good start. Further than that, you could get the Regional Director involved or the Breed Chair (in the Savannah case that is me). We can't force anything but sometimes having a mediator helps...a third party that can look at the case and the contract and give an opinion without feeling personally involved. Of course, the last resort if you feel very strongly about it, is to take it to something like small claims court...


Staff member
I can't add much to what Brigitte has said except to reiterate that you must submit the appropriate documentation that gives the diagnosis and cause of death from your vet to your breeder; and re-read your contract to make sure your situation meets the criteria for replacement. I know it seems harsh, but the contract is in place to protect both you and the breeder. I hope things can be worked out amicably.


Savannah Super Cat
This all is reasonable and makes sense! Thank you so much for your responses. I really like the breeder as a person and definitely don't want to offend her or do wrong, it's hard to do all this stuff while grieving!

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
I think Brigitte and Patti have covered what you need to know.....I am very sorry this has happened to you :(

Trish Allearz

I think you are already approaching things cautiously and with care and usually, that's a good way to approach these types of situations. Chances are- your breeder cared for your kitten very much too and would be devastated at her loss. So try not to be accusative, but informative in discussing things with her. As far as her denying, denying, denying- well, no one would say, "Oh, yeah, I do breed sick cats! So sorry!" so her response is pretty normal. Instead of saying your kitty had this, this and that- let the veterinarian report/necropsy tell her what the kitten had going on. Make sense? It takes it out of your hands- you aren't blaming for anything- and puts it into a professional's hands via the report.


Most breeders have a clause..... that the kitten be taken to your vet within 72 hours. There is also supposed to be a vet on the breeders end that is checking any kitten that is leaving for any sign of illness. Sometimes there is something going on that neither vet would see just by looking at the kitten in a routine visit. A good breeder will replace or refund if they can't replace...once a necropsy is done by a reputable diagnostic lab, if the kitten indeed had genetic or auto- immune problems going on.

Lori Greer

Cahaba Cats
I have had kittens replaced and refunds from reputable breeders and unfortunately also been in a position to have to replace as well. Some times despite a vet and breeder exams there are underlying conditions that don't manifest immediately but a good breeder will replace/refund for genetic and auto-immune issues. Do understand though that if the guarantee is for a replacement you may have to wait until a suitable replacement is available. Litters are not guaranteed and things can go wrong with pregnancies. It is hard for both the breeder and buyer to have to wait, however if that is the contractual arrangement then you will need to be patient. Be sure you get the necropsy if that is required to fulfill the documentation proof of cause of death. Honestly this is probably the hardest thing because people want and need to grieve and don't want to deal with this aspect. But it is important to do in order to protect yourself and have the documentation.

There is only one instance in which I refused to refund/replace a cat. The cat was almost 2 years old, had had a healthy litter, and then died from a heart issue directly linked to a taurine deficient diet. The necropsy cleared stated it was not HCM and all research indicated 99% of the time the condition was caused by diet. While I don't doubt that the breeder feeds a very high quality food, I also didn't feel that under the circumstances I was responsible to replace the cat.

Lori Greer

Cahaba Cats
I'm sorry you are going through this... I think we can all sympathize and understand how devastating it is to lose your baby let alone have to argue the finer points of contracts and guarantees.