You’ve thought long and hard about it, and now you’re ready to adopt a cat! The big question is whether you’re ready to raise a newborn kitten or settle in with an older feline.
Age defines many factors in cat ownership like their maintenance and energy levels, so your first step should be deciding between a kitten or an adult cat. The following considerations will help you find the right fur baby for your home.
Age of family members
The age of your new feline friend should depend on the age of your family members. Generally, kittens and children less than six years old aren’t a good mix. Young kids are still learning how to interact with animals and might accidentally roughhouse too much with the cat. In turn, kittens are more likely than adult cats to react with hissing, biting and scratching. Future pet parents who’ve got their heart set on a kitten should wait until the kids are a bit older.
Adult cats make great companions for people of any age, especially seniors. Older cats and adults share a similar stage in life, which means their energy levels will perfectly match. Cats that are all grown up are also suitable for young children because the cat is old enough to respond appropriately in case the child tugs on their tail. Adult cats are typically used to being around people and know the house rules. Just make sure to ask the shelter about the cat’s temperament, since some adult cats are much more timid or aggressive around children than others.
Also consider any pets you currently have in the house. Two young kittens might get along great, but a kitten might not get along well with your resident senior.
Experience level with pets
Kittens might not be the best option for first-time pet owners. Raising a kitten is hard work because they’re not house broken yet. They might pee outside the litter box, nip at children, claw furniture or run wild while you’re asleep. The best owner for a kitten is someone who has prior experience house training pets as well as socializing them with humans and other animals.
For these reasons, adult cats are a safer bet for pet parents of all experience levels. Any cat requires an adjustment period upon entering a new home, but adult cats adapt quicker than kittens do. Contrary to popular belief, adult cats will also bond more quickly with their owners. Their personalities are fully developed, which makes it easy to tell right away if you two will get along.
Time commitment for the cat
Kittens require constant supervision. They’re best suited for people who spend a lot of time at home like adults working remotely or teens enjoying their summer vacation. Kittens have more energy than they know what to do with, which means they’re usually up to no good. Someone should be home to look after the kitten during their first few months. People working a nine-to-five job run the risk of arriving home to broken vases and torn furniture!
Older cats are better equipped to handle free roam of the house. They’re a lot more independent and can take care of themselves while no one is home. You could easily leave an adult cat at home alone while everyone is occupied with their busy schedules. Adult and senior cats don’t have the level of energy that would cause them to tear up the house. You can go about your day knowing the cat will behave.
Preference for cat personalities
Prospective cat owners are drawn to kittens because they love the idea of watching a fur baby grow up. Kittens are a little bundle of mystery—you never know what personality quirks they’ll develop along the way! While some prefer a clean slate, others might not like the uncertainty that comes with raising a kitten. Once the kitten becomes an adult, you might find that their personality doesn’t mesh well with family members or other household pets.
Adult cats have fully developed personalities. You can get to know adult cats at the animal shelter before bringing them home. On the other hand, months or years will pass before you truly understand the temperament of a kitten. Adopting an older cat is the only way to ensure your new feline friend gets along with everyone else in the house. Every cat is different, and so are their owners. Make sure whichever cat you adopt is the right match for you!
Whether you adopt a newborn kitten or senior cat, the choice is completely up to you. Pet parents know better than anyone else which type of cat will fit nicely into their unique lifestyle, energy level and time commitment. If you need help making a decision, the staff at a shelter or rescue agency would be more than happy to assist you in finding the perfect lifelong companion!