Mountain Fork Whiskey, European brown classic tabby male -Photo courtesy of his owner, The Storey Family!
Ask the breeder to send you a text message (photo) of their (current as well as past) CFA "Cattery of Excellence" certificate from The CFA cat registry association.
Ask the breeder to send you a text message (photo) of their CFA certificate of their registered cattery name as well as asking for the CFA website link for their registered cattery name. For example, The link to our CFA (Cat Fanciers' Association) registered cattery name (MTN FORK) since October 2005, on the CFA website:
Costa/Costal Maine Coons (costamainecoon.com) aka (giantmainecoonkittens) and Classic Maine Cats (classicmainecats.com) are scam websites that steals/copies our Mountain Fork kitten testimonials, bio, etc., and have been reported numerous times to The FTC (Federal Trade Commission). At least on a weekly basis, potential kitten buyers report to us, their experience of being the victim of an online kitten selling scam. Here are some tips that may help buyers avoid wasting their time and potentially avoid losing deposits/money!
Photos posted of the entire litter of available kittens/kittens for sale should all have the SAME background. For example, we use the same backdrop on each kittens' photo in the SAME litter. If there are 6 kittens in the litter, they will all have the same backdrop, not different settings. In warmer weather, we sometimes take outdoor photos on a wooden tree stump. Again, all the kitten photos in that litter will have the SAME background. Scammers copy/paste kitten photos from different websites. Therefore they will be different sizes, sometimes different ages and have different backgrounds. Some will have green walls showing in the background, yellow walls showing, kittens lounging on cat trees, kittens laying on different colored tables, etc.
If the website does not have the breeders name, location and phone number listed on it, that is a huge red flag and is almost always a scam. Reason being, they don't want their name reported to The Federal Trade Commission! They typically use a submission form with an email address for potential kitten buyers to submit an inquiry. They also don't want buyers to recognize the name is different on the website than what the name is, that buyers are asked to send money to.
If you can't find the breeder/cattery on facebook, that's another red flag.
If the price is too cheap, ($800 - $2500) for European direct imported cats with DNA cleared parentage) that's another red flag. Basically, if it seems too good to be true, it's a scam. Importing and raising kittens to maturity, DNA testing, birthing kittens, vet expenses, quality food, etc is a huge expense and that's why breeders whom are experienced, sell healthy and top quality kittens that are hard to come by. Therefore, they will not be cheap.
If there is any doubt in your mind, ask to see documentation; the kittens parents' DNA tests, the CFA issued Cattery of Excellence certificate. It only takes moments for a reputable breeder to take a pic and send it in a text message, for that specific set of parents.
Color tips: Maine Coons do not have the Siamese/Persian breed inherited colors. If a website talks about "pointed coloring" such as flame points, blue lynx, lavender points, chocolate points, etc those are Siamese traits that Persians can have, but NEVER a Maine Coon!
Another color tip: Brown with red patched tabbies, tortoiseshells, calicos and dilute calicos (cream instead of red patches) are females as it is a sex linked color. Most people including scammers, do not know this and those female kittens will be will be represented as male kittens for sale.
Ask to see a video of the kitten you are interested in purchasing. Ask them to place a specific object in the video such as; a blue sharpie marker, a large wooden spoon, a pair of glasses, a post it note with the kittens name written in green ink, etc. Scammers will not be able to provide this authentication!
A reputable breeder will have an extensive kitten gallery, showing kittens from their past/prior litters. If they do not have an extensive gallery, it is a scam or they are newbies trying to wing it. Scammers are not going to take the time required to build an extensive website.
Ask if they follow the USDA guidelines regarding the sale of pets, sight unseen in regards to shipping a kitten to you on an airplane. If they don't know what you are referring to, they are more than likely a scam.
Ask who their vet is that issues their health certificates prior to going to their new homes. Call that vet and get specific information about the breeder and then ask the contact person on the website to verify. For example, our vet comes to our home to examine each kitten prior to leaving us for their forever homes.