Like puppy mills, kitten mills are places where cats are bred and sold en masse, typically without much concern for ethics. Cats from kitten mills suffer abuse and neglect, and when they're rescued, they need forever homes that will understand where they have come from and how they must cope.
Kitten mills exist for one purpose only: producing and selling as many kittens as possible. The operators of these mills have little, if any, regard for the health and well-being of their animals. For that reason, cats raised in a kitten mill may suffer from markedly poor health. They may have infections, worms, untreated diseases and physical deformities. Their bodies may be ravaged by years spent in a cage, and they may not have seen the sun or other bright lights in years, making their eyes sensitive. If you rescue a kitten mill cat, she will probably have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to her health.
Kitten mill rescues are raised and live with very little human interaction. The few times that they do see humans, it's probably not a pleasant experience, either. Because these cats live without ever learning that humans are trustworthy, kind or loving, they may be defensive around people. They may demonstrate behaviors that are typically classified as aggressive or mean, like biting, scratching or hissing. Hopefully, with time and patience, your rescue will begin to warm up to human companionship.
Fear and Anxiety
Cats from the kitten mill may channel their poor socialization into fear, timidity and anxiety. A rescue cat like this may be particularly skittish and may show great apprehension when you try to show him affection. By being patient, you may be able to break down these walls, but you can't force the issue. A cat has to come to you on his own terms, or else you may make his fear of humans even worse.
Lack of Training
Because they are never trained, cats from the mill may have difficulty adjusting to the schedule of a domestic animal. For example, she may have been forced to eliminate in her own cage, and has never used a litter box. She may have never felt the warm water of a bath before or have been given medicine. She almost certainly has never had to hold still while someone brushed her fur or cleaned her ears. When you rescue a mill cat, you start from square one and have to undo years of improper care. Training an adult cat like this takes time and work, but they can still learn.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.