Alberta woman raises alarm on scam selling fake hairless cats

A woman claims she was the victim of a scam after she purchased what she thought was a hairless sphynx kitten. It turns out the lack of hair was more about abuse than breeding.

'I thought he was crying for his mom, but he probably was in pain,' said buyer of kitten

Shaved cat sold as sphynx kitten on Kijiji

7 years ago
Duration 0:40
An Alberta woman is warning others after she said she was scammed into buying a sphynx cat that was just a shaved kitten.

A woman says she was scammed after purchasing what she thought was a hairless sphynx kitten. 

It turns out the lack of hair was more about abuse than breeding. 

"He was like a little tiny kitten, no more than eight weeks old, and he was naked. Completely hairless," said JoAnne Dyck of the kitten named Vlad that was dropped off at her Red Deer, Alta., home.

"It looked like a sphynx because he was very, very skinny and his face was really angular."

Dyck said the person who posted the ad said they were in Calgary, but the seller told her a friend could deliver the cat, rather than Dyck making the trip south. 

Vlad, missing everything down to his whiskers, did not get along with Dyck's older cat and so Dyck found another owner.

"Me and her talked back and forth the next couple of days about him, because he wasn't seeming to really calm down. And she took him into the vet and the vet said the cuts on his skin were most likely caused by razor burn or Nair or something like that," said Dyck.

The vet, according to Dyck, said cuts on the tail were infected and could have led to amputation.

'It just seems like they couldn't help us'

One week later, the cat had grown a coat of orange hair. 

"I thought he was crying for his mom, but he probably was in pain," said Dyck, who paid $700 for the kitten. 

"Regular sphynx kittens would want to be held and would want to be warm and touched, but he didn't want anything to do with us. He probably didn't want to be touched because his hair — it wasn't supposed to not be there."

Dyck said she called the Calgary Humane Society but was told there was nothing they could do without an address and a full name. 

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

She said the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told her there was nothing they could do as the trauma had passed and the animal had seen a vet. 

"It's pretty crazy. I've always thought that all these animal people were supposed to help you, like the SPCA. You hear about them doing all these great things, but it just seems like they couldn't help us."

Sage Pullen McIntosh, a spokesperson for the Calgary Humane Society, said they've asked Dyck to file a report. 

"If this is within the city limits, we would investigate," she wrote by email. "If it is outside city limits, we would forward this to Alberta SPCA."

'Go to where the cats are being bred'

Dyck said since posting her story on social media, she's heard from two other women, both in Edmonton, who say they have been taken in by a similar scam.

She's warning those in the market for a specialty cat to be mindful of where they find their pets. 

"Definitely go to where the cats are being bred. Never meet them anywhere. If they won't let you come to their house, their residence, it's probably a bad sign," she said. 

"Just be sure that it's a reputable breeder if you're looking for one of these specialty cats."

Vlad, now decidedly hairy, continues to live with the woman who purchased him from Dyck.

With files from Elizabeth Snaddon