Is it Best to Adopt a Cat or a Kitten?

This is republished from my column on, with minor alterations

When considering whether to adopt a cat or a kitten, it seems that most people would rather get a kitten than an adult cat. It makes sense; kittens haven’t yet developed their personalities so the general assumption is that they grow into the families they live with and become an excellent fit. But it may not always be a wise idea to adopt a kitten. Many times, adopting an adult cat is the better option. How do you know whether to adopt a cat or a kitten?

Here are some reasons to adopt a kitten

  • Kittens are playful, small and cute
  • Kittens learn very quickly and are therefore easy to train.
  • Kittens are very, very social and affectionate
  • Kittens provide lots of entertainment when they’re playing

Kittens have a lot of energy, so they’re extremely playful. It takes a lot to tire them out. This is great for people who want a pet with a lot of energy; a kitten that is played with a lot will grow into an adult that loves to be played with. Also, if they’re young enough when they’re adopted (on the order of 6-8 weeks), they can grow to see their owners as surrogate parents so they’ll grow up to be wonderful lap cats and companions.

However, kittens are basically little children. They can get into everything. They need to be trained to stay out of cabinets and off furniture, and not to scratch and bite. They need frequent supervision AND a lot of attention and because of this, kittens are not right for every household. Whether or not you’re home is a major consideration in deciding whether to adopt a cat or a kitten.


Should you adopt a cat or a kitten, then? Here are some pros of adopting an adult cat

  • Adult cats already have an established personality
  • Adult cats tend to be mellower and quieter
  • Adult cats are often already trained
  • Adult cats are social and affectionate, but not as intrusive as kittens often are

Adult cats can have sweetness and quietness and mellowness already built into their personalities. Also, many adult cats have already received a lot of training from previous owners so they already know not to scratch and bite, not to get into cabinets or onto furniture. They know how to love their people and they may even know when to be around and when to stay away. They’re curious creatures, but not as curious as kittens can be.


Choosing the right adult cat to adopt can be more difficult though because their personalities and training are already established. In this instance, it’s important to talk to the current owners (shelter, pet store, breeder, neighbor, whoever the owner currently is) about spending time with the cat to get a feel for what kind of pet it would be and whether it’s a good fit. This, too, is important in deciding whether to adopt a cat or a kitten.

So the decision to adopt a cat or a kitten requires a lot of thought and insight into one’s needs and desires. Careful thought and planning will help a prospective cat owner make the right decisions.

2 Replies to “Is it Best to Adopt a Cat or a Kitten?”

    • ourcatsworld Post author

      Yes, but the purpose of this story is to explain why an adult cat might be more suitable to a household than a kitten, and vice versa. Shelters are full of both, and people often choose kittens when an adult cat, whose personality is already established and who’s already gotten past the feistiness and activity level of a kitten, might be a far better match. Adopting a kitten under those circumstances can result in the kitten ending up back that shelter, or in even worse circumstances.


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