Kitten Mills Are A Real Thing, And With Your Help, We Can Stop Them

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on July 5, 2017

Most people know about puppy mills. They may think they are “rescuing” a puppy from a mill by buying from a pet shop (they’re not), but at least they’re aware of the problem.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about kitten mills. Few people are aware of the existence of kitten mills and the terrible conditions cats are forced to live in for the sake of producing kittens that usually have more health problems than the average cat.

Just like puppy mills, kitten mills feature crowded, dirty kennels with animals who get little, if any socialization. Litter boxes are usually overflowing and might still be the cleanest place to sleep. Cats often have infected faces, matted fur, and other neglected health issues.

The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) sent an investigator with a hidden camera into a breeding facility in Nebraska, which ended up being a kitten mill.

WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.

According to the CAPS blog, the investigator called “Pete” contacted the local sheriff’s department after capturing this evidence on film. He wrote:

 I contacted the Howard County Sheriff’s Department about Obermiller’s facility, and they sent out a deputy. But the deputy said he didn’t see any sick cats, and that he couldn’t seize any animals or charge Obermiller with a crime unless the animals were dying. The deputy seemed honest, but his misunderstanding of Nebraska state law was baffling. It’s also hard to understand his claim that he didn’t see any of the violations I had just witnessed.

With no action taken, CAPS then sent the footage to the USDA. Pete reported:

On February 3, 2015, the USDA fined Obermiller $5,000 and put her on probation for one year for failing to do the following: provide adequate veterinary care; clean and sanitize housing surfaces; maintain housing facilities in good repair; and have a responsible person present for USDA inspections. Her probation means that she can keep operating her facility, but she must not be caught violating the Animal Welfare Act for one year. During the probation, USDA will fine Obermiller $5,000 for every sick cat. A USDA Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO) inspector will be visiting Obermiller’s facility on a regular basis.

While Pete was pleased that some action was taken, he would rather see the facility shut down altogether. He concluded:

For as long as it takes, CAPS will keep investigating USDA-licensed facilities like Claudia Obermiller’s.  And we’ll keep gathering evidence until no more animals are suffering at the hand of the pet shop industry. Together, with your help, we’ll put an end to this inhumane cruelty.

The best way to avoid supporting kitten mills is to adopt your next cat from a shelter. Millions of shelter cats are euthanized every year, which makes adoption extremely important. If you do wish to purchase a kitten, a reputable breeder will let you visit their home and see where and how the kittens are being raised. NEVER purchase an animal from a pet store – unless it’s one of the few now adopting out rescues instead of selling mill animals.