Adopting a Kitten vs. An Older Cat: Pros and Cons

By Courtney Elliott

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Thinking about welcoming a cat into your home? Felines make excellent companions, but you may be wondering if you should adopt a kitten or adult cat. While kittens are playful and energetic, they require more training and attention. Adult cats, on the other hand, are more laid-back and independent, and may be a better fit for busy people or households with young children. The process of figuring out which animal to adopt comes down to more than just losing yourself in tiny kitten toe beans. It’s important to consider your lifestyle and how you can be a successful pet parent. Here are some of the benefits and challenges of kittens versus cats.

What are the benefits of getting a kitten?

Bringing a kitten into your home can bring an endless amount of joy and companionship. Other than their undeniable cuteness, here are some benefits of getting a kitten.

Bonding and socialization

Raising and nurturing a kitten is a rewarding experience, and because kittens are so young, they tend to form strong bonds with their pet parents. Kittens are also generally more adaptable to new environments. They can grow up accustomed to various experiences and people, meaning that they may be more easygoing and socialized when they grow into an adult.

Lifelong companionship

By getting a kitten, you potentially enjoy a longer period of companionship, as you get to share their entire lifespan. Seeing them go from tiny, curious creatures to intelligent, full-grown adults can be a really fascinating and gratifying journey.

Training and habits

With a clean slate, you have the opportunity to shape a kitten’s behavior and habits from an early age. Litter training, scratching behavior, and social skills are all areas you can have an influence over with a kitten. Kittenhood is the best time to train them to accept being handled by humans, especially in their sensitive spots, such as their stomachs and feet.

Playful energy

Kittens are known for their playful antics and boundless energy. If you enjoy interactive play and forming a dynamic relationship, a kitten might be the perfect fit for you. This is a good time to teach them which types of play are appropriate so that they don’t think that mauling your hand is good fun.

What are the pros and cons of adopting a kitten?

While play, nurturing, and kitten snuggles are all part of the package, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to these young felines. Here are the pros and cons of adopting a kitten.

Pros of adopting a kitten

  • Kittens enjoy a lot of attention.
  • Kittens bring joy and playfulness to the household.
  • Kitten form strong bonds with their pet parents.
  • You can better shape their behavior and habits.

Cons of adopting a kitten

  • Kittens take a lot of time and energy for training.
  • Kittens require more cleaning and maintenance.
  • You need to be home more often to supervise.
  • Kittens might be in more danger around children.
  • Kittens bite more than adult cats.
  • Initial veterinary costs for vaccinations and spaying/neutering may be expensive.
  • Adoption fees for kittens are typically higher than for adult cats.
adult cat on red rug

Casey Elise Christopher / Shutterstock

What are the benefits of getting an older cat?

OK, so that was kittens. Now let’s talk about choosing to adopt an older cat. Here are some benefits of getting an adult cat.

Less training required

There’s a very good chance that an adult cat will already be trained to use the litter box when they come into your home. They will also likely have a better idea of what type of play is appropriate. At the same time, this can heavily depend on the individual cat and their living situation prior to joining your family.

Established personality

One of the coolest things about having a cat is discovering their unique quirks. While kittens are still finding their way, adult cats come with personalities that are ready to shine. Adopting an adult cat allows you to choose a companion whose character aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and preferences.

Time requirements

Adult cats often require less time and energy. They tend to be pretty independent and will go about their day without a lot of attention. This makes them an excellent choice for those with busy schedules or looking for a more laid-back four-legged family member.

Higher need

Adults and senior cats often need loving homes more urgently than kittens do. This not only means you’re making a big difference by offering a home to a cat in need, but that you’ll also likely have a broader selection to choose from when adopting.

Quieter home

A kitten might tear around the house at all hours, hurling themselves at anything they think will give them even a moment’s entertainment, but an adult cat will probably be a lot happier to just flop in a comfy spot for much of the day. Adult cats’ playful antics are balanced with a sense of maturity, creating a quieter and more relaxed living environment for you both. That’s not to say that a grown cat won’t decide to have the occasional case of the midnight zoomies (quieter doesn’t mean quiet).

What are the pros and cons of adopting an adult cat?

While welcoming a grown feline into your home has its many perks, there are some challenging aspects that are worth considering. Let’s explore the pros and cons of adopting an adult cat.

Pros of adopting an adult cat

  • Adult cats are most likely already trained.
  • Adult cats need less supervision and attention.
  • Adult cats have developed personalities.
  • Adult cats typically cost less than kittens.
  • Adult cats come with a known health status.

Cons of adopting an adult cat

  • Adult cats may come with underlying health issues.
  • Pet parents have less influence on shaping behavior.
  • You’ll likely have a shorter time together than you would with a kitten.
  • Adult cats may have potential attachment issues and take time to warm up.

Ultimately, both kittens and cats come with their own set of benefits and challenges, offering distinct experiences that cater to various lifestyles. A kitten may be a good option if you’re ready to spend a lot of time nurturing and training them and have the budget to spend on higher adoption fees and early vet visits. If you prefer less of a time commitment and would rather lounge with a more established cat, adopting an adult cat is the way to go.

Whether you’re enchanted by the boundless energy of a kitten or drawn to the established charm of an adult cat, the decision ultimately rests on your personal preferences, daily routine, and the commitment you’re ready to embrace. As you start life with your new addition, remember that both kittens and adult cats have the capacity to become cherished members of your family, bringing warmth, companionship, and tons of joy into your life.

How do I decide which one is right for me?

Choosing between a kitten and an adult cat depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Are you okay with kitten messes, scratches, and midnight zoomies? If you have the time and energy for playful antics and training, a kitten might be the perfect fit.

On the other hand, if you’re seeking a more laid-back companion with an established personality, an adult cat could be the ideal match. Consider your daily routine, living space, and the level of commitment you’re ready to provide. Visiting local shelters and spending time with both kittens and adult cats can also help you gauge which companion captures your heart.

FAQs (People also ask)

Is there a cost difference between adopting a kitten and an adult cat?

While the cost of adopting a kitten versus an adult cat can vary, adult cats typically cost less than kittens. Kittens might also incur initial expenses for vaccinations and spaying/neutering. However, it’s essential to consider ongoing expenses, such as food, grooming, and healthcare for both kittens and cats. It’s a good idea to check with local shelters or rescue organizations to understand the specific costs associated with adopting either age group.

Are there breed-specific considerations when choosing between a kitten and an adult?

When choosing between a kitten and an adult cat, breed considerations can play a role in your decision. Some breeds, such as certain long-haired, hairless cats or highly active breeds, may require more grooming or playtime. Individual personalities, however, can vary widely within a breed. Spending time with cats of different breeds and ages can help you identify the characteristics that align with your preferences. Focusing on the unique qualities of each cat (kitten or adult), rather than solely on their breed can guide you toward the perfect companion.


Determinants of Cat Choice and Outcomes for Adult Cats and Kittens Adopted from an Australian Animal Shelter

Courtney Elliott, a proud Cleveland native living in Manhattan, blends her decade of writing and editing expertise with her unshakable devotion as a pet parent to her French Bulldog, Gus. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her frolicking in Central Park or engrossed in a good book at a local coffee shop.

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