A Wanganui pet shop is being investigated by the SPCA after a woman's claim she was sold a sick and underage kitten.
But the owners of Animania pet shop say they have nothing to hide and are simply carrying out important animal rescue work.
Wanganui resident Joshia, who did not wish to give her surname, bought a kitten from the shop in Guyton St a week ago.
Joshia said she was told the kitten was nine weeks old but she immediately had her doubts.
"He was very, very small, and he didn't look very well. But because I'm a trained vet nurse, I thought I could care for him properly."
She bought the kitten for $20 and took him home with more than $100 worth of accessories and special food. The kitten died overnight.
A member of Joshia's family took him to Wanganui Vet Services.
The family say the person was told the kitten was probably around four weeks old - too young to be taken from his mother.
Wanganui Vet Services declined to comment.
Joshia said the incident was distressing.
"It was just really horrible to buy a kitten and have him die so quickly."
Michelle Sigley, manager of Animania, said the shop did all it could to ensure the well-being of its animals but could not guarantee a fully healthy animal.
"We do much needed animal rescue work in Wanganui.
"All our staff are volunteers and we receive no funding."
Ms Sigley said Animania took in many rescue animals with the aim of rehousing them where possible.
She said the SPCA had carried out investigations into her shop and had found nothing wrong.
She said Animania staff had been upfront with Joshia that the kitten was a runt and had been rescued. She said the kitten was not underage or unwell.
Ms Sigley said Joshia was given her money back and was offered another kitten.
"We tell our customers that if there are any problems they should come back and tell us.
"We're honestly trying to do our best." Joshia said she was given a refund but did not want to take another kitten from Animania.
She denied staff told her the kitten had been rescued.
Wanganui SPCA manager Val Waters said the incident was not the first problem she had heard about kittens sold from Animania.
"This one was as bad as it gets. The kitten was a skeleton and had pussy eyes.
"It should never have been offered for sale," Mrs Waters said.
She confirmed the SPCA would check on Animania every fortnight.
"Pet shops need to ensure their animals are as healthy and as free from disease as possible."
Mrs Waters said the SPCA tried to educate people on the proper treatment of animals.