Pet mills — also known as pet farms or factories — are commercial operations where animals are bred in large numbers to be sold to pet stores or individual owners, as if they were things. Their goal is to generate the most profit in the shortest amount of time, regardless of the conditions in which the animals are raised.

Although most of these “factories” focus on breeding dogs, there are also kitten mills. But, because not many people know about their existence, they get much less attention. To this are added the lax or non-existent regulations and the little control of the authorities, which allow them to be easier to hide than puppy farms.

The conditions that cats and kittens face in mills are unacceptable, and most of their physical, psychological and social needs are violated. These animals usually live locked up in cages all their lives or most of the time, with very little room to move, no access to natural light and poor artificial lighting. No precautions are taken to protect them from extreme climate and many suffer from malnutrition due to the bad quality of food they receive. On the other hand, the small space in which they spend their entire lives is kept dirty, as are their food and water sources. When cages have wire floors, it is common for kittens to end up with wounds on their paws and legs. However, they receive little, if any, veterinary care, so it is common for many to die before reaching stores.

Cats can become pregnant when they are 4 months old, so they are exploited from a very young age, fertilized over and over again with little rest between litters. For this reason, kittens are usually separated from their mothers too early. In addition, to avoid expenses, they are often not dewormed, have little interaction with humans and their peers, and atrophy due to lack of exercise. All this makes them prone to developing infections, diseases and behavioural problems, which is why many “owners” abandon them to their fate shortly after buying them.

The suffering of adults in these facilities is even worse, as they spend their entire lives locked up in the same unsanitary conditions until they can no longer reproduce, usually when they are between 6 and 10 years old. If they are not killed then, they are abandoned in the streets. The few that survive often have serious health problems, including infections, worms, deformities and — due to lack of access to light for several years — vision problems. Likewise, these cats — most of them females — suffer from constant fear, anxiety and stress, which generates extremely defensive behaviour, making it very difficult to rescue and, even more so, to find them a permanent home.

The result of all this is overpopulation and the massive death of cats. The demand for baby kittens means that breeders continually fill the market with a “fresh product,” so many more animals are born than can be adopted or sheltered. In US shelters alone, more than half a million cats are euthanized each year. The number of kittens and adult cats that die early in mills, or on the streets in abandoned conditions, is incalculable.
There are many cats in shelters and on the streets waiting for loving homes. If you want a cat in your family, avoid paying for mills’ cruelty. Take the Adopt, Don’t Shop pledge today!

Mati Nuñez del Prado Alanes
Matilde Nuñez del Prado Alanes is from La Paz, Bolivia. She made her thesis in Sociology on cockfighting, as a result of an undercover investigation in the field for 4 years, and she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Critical Theory. Her topics of interest are the relationships between humans and other sentient animals from the perspective of Critical Animal Studies, the socio-ecological issues, and the intersectionality between different forms of oppression, domination and exploitation.