As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

Christmas Kittens: Not A Bargain

This article was written by in Consumer. 11 comments.

In the course of my holiday shopping, I happened into my local pet shop for some supplies and a catnip-filled stocking or two.

While there, I couldn’t help but wander towards the wall full of wriggling puppies, each more adorable than the last.

As usual, there were a few display tanks full of kittens, generally from stray or other cats which people drop off to be vaccinated and then resold. It’s not a bad program, really, and the store always charges $49.99 to adopt a kitten once they’ve been checked and treated, enough to cover the vet and their expenses.


Always, that is, except the holidays. As I looked at the inquisitive little faces, my eye was drawn up to the yellow tag: $199.99.

“Well, they must be from a breeder,” I mused aloud, but a nearby store clerk shook her head. She gave me a knowing look and whispered “They’re the same cats as always,” then strolled off before anyone else could overhear.

Indeed, these were run-of-the-mill kittens, some stripey, some longhaired with white bibs, and some pure jet black. But all featured the special holiday pricing, four times the normal cost.

In the midst of the Christmas rush, I wonder if anyone else will even notice.

Image Credit: Collinj

Updated April 9, 2008 and originally published December 22, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Aaron Stroud

Sasha, this is actually a good thing.

Thousands of cats and dogs are purchased as Christmas presents every year. Often, the kids or parents get tired of the pets and then promptly toss them out.

Across the pond, they dislike pet abandonment so strongly that pet shops stop selling puppies and kittens for Christmas. (The policy might have changed since I was there.)

I’d much prefer the pet stores willingly reduce the number of pets sold as Christmas presents instead of another law being issued from above.

Reply to this comment

avatar Patrick

I think that is funny! (and creative!).

I don’t think you can forget about the other costs associated with pet care as well – shots, food, toys, vet bills, treats, etc. When you add those, pets are never a “bargain.”

Of course, just like having kids, you can’t make the decision to have a pet based on money alone! :)

Reply to this comment

avatar Mrs. Micah

I think kittens are amazingly cute, but I’m touch and go with cats (I’ve had a couple bad experiences where I got attacked because someone else had been teasing the cat).

But I don’t think enough people connect the two. The adorable, snuggly, playful kitten may well grow up to be an entirely disdainful or even evil cat. Or it might stay snuggly and playful. There’s really no telling. The only guarantee is that it’ll be a cat–and even that may not have gotten into their heads.

Reply to this comment

avatar Aaron Stroud

Mrs. Micah, bulls eye!

Reply to this comment

avatar Sasha


I completely agree with you that giving pets for holidays is a terrible idea. Pets are a responsibility not to be undertaken lightly, and certainly not on a whim. However, I have my suspicions that the pet store is not trying to help America be more pet-responsible, but instead focusing on making the utmost profit from the season. But if the side effect is that people make more responsible decisions, you’re right–it’s not necessarily bad.

Mrs. Micah,

I agree with you on the cat personality bit, and prefer older cats myself. I want to know what I’m getting into. Of course, I adopted a stray cat whose disposition is lovely towards humans and horrible towards other animals, so I’ll probably be a one-cat household forever.

Reply to this comment

avatar Sasha


You make good points about the ongoing costs of pet ownership. I believe somewhere online I saw an article or calculator related to this, but can’t seem to lay my hands on it now.

Reply to this comment

avatar jesse

I think kittens are amazingly cute, but I’m touch and go with cats (I’ve had a couple bad experiences where I got attacked because someone else had been teasing the cat).

It sounds more like you’re touch and go with people who don’t know how to act around animals! (Dogs snap over some similar things, in my experience.)

I agree with the previous posters – my assumption upon finishing this post was that they were doing it to make people think twice before adopting. I wonder if they work with a rescue group to do the adoptions (which would make that situation more likely) or if they just pull animals from the shelter and sell them?

Reply to this comment

avatar Scott

isn’t it just supply and demand? the supply of things not made in China is pretty low, so the demand (and price for them) has gone up? I’ve seen at least one financial report where the reporter mused about finally getting his kids the puppy they wanted because it would be relatively safe — or at least you knew what the problems were likely to be ahead of time.

Reply to this comment

avatar Aaron Stroud

Scott & Jesse, my guess would be a combination of the two points. But the point I tried to make earlier is whatever their reason, the price hike is a good thing.

It discourages people from buying pets during a specific time of the year. If the family really wants to add a pet to their family, they have the rest of the year to find one.

Also, I wonder what kind of message one sends to their kids if Christmas is the only time or best time to get a pet?

Reply to this comment

avatar Frugal Duchess

What a story. I love store clerks who have ethical hearts. I’ve also been helped by clerks who have given me helpful nods and winks.

& Buyer Beware: Pets are such hard work.
We purchased a puppy for the kids. OMG!
I feel like I have another child.

However, we love our dog very much.

Reply to this comment

avatar Mrs. Micah

Sasha, excellent point about buying an older cat. I think if I were getting a dog, I’d want to start from the puppy stage, but for a cat I might want the older one.

Good point, Jesse, though in both cases the teasers were little boys who I hope have learned their lessons by now. I was a little girl, which is probably why I remember the incidents so strongly…

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.