Hairless cat scam is 'abuse,' says 2nd Alberta woman who bought shaved pet

Another Alberta woman who arranged to buy a hairless sphynx cat online — but instead received a meticulously shaved regular kitten — says the apparent scam is cruel and abusive to the animals involved.

'We basically just had this kitten thrown at us ... mutilated and sliced up'

Holly Rattray of Bawlf, Alta., said she arranged to buy this kitten off Kijiji believing it was a hairless sphynx cat. But, after the seller quickly handed off the animal and left, she soon realized it was a shaved cat. She provided these photos of the kitten as she got it, and later once its hair regrew. (Holly Rattray)

Another Alberta woman who arranged to buy a hairless cat online — but instead received a meticulously shaved regular kitten — says the apparent scam is cruel and abusive.

"It's an unbelievable thing that someone would do this," Holly Rattray said.

She is the second person in the province to come forward recently with a story of being scammed by an online vendor purporting to sell sphynx kittens — a rare breed of feline that is naturally nearly hairless.

Rattray said she put an ad on Kijiji looking to purchase a hairless kitten and ended up communicating via email and later text message with someone who called himself Tim.

She arranged to meet a friend of Tim's, who would deliver the pet, in Red Deer.

Rattray said she made the nearly two-hour drive from her home near Bawlf, Alta., and met the contact in a parking lot.

The person seemed to be in a big hurry, she said. Agreeing to take $550 instead of the asked $700, she quickly drove off, Rattray said.

It wasn't until later that she was able to fully inspect the female kitten, which had wounds all over its body that Rattray believes were nicks from a razor blade.

"We basically just had this kitten thrown at us that was totally, like, mutilated and sliced up," she said.

"When I look back at the photos, I honestly do not know how this cat survived."

'Literally hairless'

At the time, though, Rattray remained incredulous at the thought that someone might have shaved a kitten so thoroughly.

Having already fostered a sphynx cat, she said she had her suspicions, because the breed can have some bits of hair on the tail and near the feet.

But this cat was "literally hairless."

"Even underneath its legs, it was so clean-shaven that my husband did question it," she said.

"But my husband was like, 'There is no way, honey, that someone could have shaved a cat this good.'"

Since she bought the kitten on Oct. 29 its wounds have healed and it has started to grow fur. She has named it Stripes.

Holly Rattray said the kitten's nick marks healed and it began growing fur once her family brought it home and took care of it. (Holly Rattray)

Rattray said she later contacted Red Deer resident JoAnne Dyck after seeing her posts on Facebook about being scammed in a similar way.

Dyck had purchased a cat she named Vlad under similar circumstances, but sold it just days afterward because she said it was having so much trouble getting along with her older cat.

Shaniya Yung bought Vlad and said she "knew that there was something wrong with it," but wasn't sure exactly what.

"For two or three days, it still seemed like it could be a hairless cat, but then it started growing more and more and more hair and whiskers and hair in the ears and things like that," Yung said.

She said she was "shocked" at how thoroughly the kitten had been shaved, and so was her veterinarian.

"She said in 15 years of being a vet, she'd never seen anything like this before," Yung said.

"They did that good of a job. It was insane. They took the hair out of his ears; they took his whiskers right off. He had nothing left."

She said Vlad had some nicks on his body and an infected cut on his tail, but has made a full recovery.

"He's playful and everything," she said. "When I first got him, he just sat with his head down, scared, and shook for 24 hours, basically. He's a completely different cat."

Vlad was advertised as a hairless sphynx cat, but grew a coat of orange fur. (JoAnne Dyck)

Rattray, meanwhile, said her kitten has not just grown hair but has also grown to become a "a part of our family."

"It's great to have her," she said. "We wouldn't have it any other way now."

She says she's considering reporting the scam to the RCMP and SPCA, but that wasn't something that immediately occurred to her.

"I do work full-time and, honestly, I just haven't had the time to report anything yet," she said.

"And right now, we're just kind of taking solace in the fact that we did save a life and that is what I'm telling my daughter. God blessed us with a different kitty, and that's OK.

"But it is confusing, obviously, to a five-year-old, and you don't really know how to explain to a child that this kind of abuse and this kind of neglect does happen."

With files from Diane Yanko and Raffy Boudjikanian