Should I Adopt a Kitten, Adult or Senior Cat?

Should I Adopt a Kitten, Adult or Senior Cat?

by Scritch

You’re ready to add a cat to the family yet you’re not exactly sure what kind and whether you should get a kitten or an adult cat. When envisioning a new feline in their home, many prospective kitty parents picture a tiny, cute kitten. However, there are many adult cats in shelters across the country who would make great companions, and in many situations, be the more sensible choice compared to a brand new kitten. How do you decide the best fit for your lifestyle? Let’s review the pros and cons, so you know exactly what you’ll be working (and snuggling) with. 

Fluffy kittens!

Who can deny the cuteness of a kitten? They’re tiny and fluffy, and their innocent, impulsive behavior could win even the coldest of hearts. The allure of a kitten is getting to enjoy all that baby cuteness, hundreds of Instagram photos, and the rewarding experience of raising them from (almost) the very beginning of their life. Kittens can be a great teaching experience for older children learning responsibility, or a delightful companion for an active adult who can dedicate the time that a young kitten will need.

Kitten considerations

Before you become blinded by all the adorableness that is a kitten, be sure to consider the other side of the coin. If older cats don’t appeal to you because they aren’t as tiny and cute, keep in mind that your kitten will grow into an adult cat that will rely on you for the next fifteen to twenty years of its life. Plus, baby animals are a much bigger commitment than their adult counterparts, not only in the amount of years you’ll spend together, but also the time, effort, and patience it takes to properly raise a kitten. You’ll need to:

  • Kitten proof your home
  • Teach a new kitten the rules of the house, such as staying off the counters and how to properly use the litter box
  • Socialize your kitten! It’s important to help them acclimate to everyday life events, such as strangers entering your home, being handled and groomed, and interacting with other pets. 
  • And remember - kittens may not be a good fit for households with young children who could accidentally injure them; they’re pretty fragile creatures in the first year of life! 

While a kitten is young, her personality is not fully developed, and without knowing the parents’ background, you may not always be able to tell what your cat’s personality will be like. Will they be shy or social, energetic or lazy? Young kittens require near constant supervision, lest they cause damage to your home or hurt themselves. It’s not a bad idea to have cat insurance and easy access to a rainy-day fund when bringing home a baby animal. You may not be too keen on having your ankles randomly attacked with sharp claws, finding scratched up furniture, or being awoken in the middle of the night by kitten shenanigans. If this is the case, an adult cat would be a much better fit.

Grown-up cats

There are many well-behaved adoptable cats with wonderful personalities that are overlooked simply because they have lived beyond their kitten years. Grown cats tend to have an independent quality about them, which means they don’t need to be constantly supervised. Adopting an adult cat also offers the luxury of selecting just the right personality fit for your home since the personality of an adult cat has already been established. Do you want an active, playful cat? Do you want a lazy cuddler? Are you hoping for lots of interaction with your social butterfly or do you prefer a polite and aloof companion? The shelter will be able to tell you about the cat’s tendencies, as well as how they do with other pets and children. 

What are the drawbacks of adding an older cat to the family? Their age may be unknown, making it hard to guess when they’ll start entering their senior years. Adult cats may come with some baggage, such as behavioral issues and while some of these can be easily corrected, other issues require dedicated efforts to adjust. A good cat rescue practices full disclosure and will tell you about any health or behavioral issues with their adoptable cats. 

Though an adult cat’s personality is set, they will adjust and adapt to their new home, which includes developing that special bond with their human family members. Plus, adopting an adult cat comes with the priceless reward of saving a life from an uncertain fate.