Cats can be a wonderful addition to your home. They are playful and active, yet they enjoy a good cuddle on the sofa from time to time. Best of all, no two cats are alike. Each seems to have its own unique personality and traits.
There are plenty of rescues and shelters that offer up these lovely felines for adoption, but you need to ask yourself if you’re looking for a kitten or an adult cat. Tiny kittens are very active, and it can be fun to watch them grow, but there are many reasons to consider adopting an adult cat instead.
1. Adult Cats Are Cleaner Than Kittens
Kittens can be very curious, but this can get them into all kinds of shenanigans! If a kitten is feeling feisty, he might try to play with the litter in his box or try to dig up the dirt from one of your potted plants.1 Kittens can also be messy eaters. Even if you try to put all their canned food into a nice clean bowl, your kitten may end up wearing a lot of the food on his face. Adult cats tend to be calmer, and even though they can be just as playful at times, they are more likely to stay clean. Adults are also more adept at grooming themselves, whereas young kittens rely on their mothers to help keep them clean.2
2. Adult Cats Need Less Supervision and Training
Again, young kittens have a lot to learn about their new surroundings. This might mean that they will sneak into small, cramped spaces where you would have difficulty finding them. Kittens are more likely to play with things that they shouldn’t because they don’t know what dangers lie ahead. Some owners report that their kittens will chew on string, which can cause a life-threatening obstruction in their intestines, or they will chew on electrical cords and phone charge cords. When kittens are electrocuted, they will start to have trouble breathing due to fluid accumulating in their lung tissue.3
Adult cats are more aware of the dangers in their surroundings, and they usually try to steer clear of them. Since they are larger, adult cats are less likely to go missing when they hide. When you adopt an adult cat, he also knows how to use his litter box. If you are using something like a self-cleaning litter box, it may take an adult cat some time to adjust to a different type of litter box or litter than he’s used to. Very young kittens may need some training before they know how to use any type of litter box properly.4
3. Adult Cats Are Fully Grown When You Adopt Them
Since adult cats are fully grown, there isn’t any guessing about how big they will become. Some cats will stop growing once they’ve made it to eight or nine pounds while other bigger cats can make it up to thirteen or fourteen pounds!5 Either way, cats do not have as much size variability as dog breeds do.6 Fully grown cats can be sized up for beds, cat trees, and in some cases, even harnesses for leash walks outside. But for kittens, it is not uncommon to have them outgrow their toys, beds, and cat trees!
4. Adult Cats Are Less Likely to Chew or Teethe
When kittens are little, they develop a full set of deciduous teeth. This means that the teeth are not permanent, and they will start to fall out when a kitten is about ten to twelve weeks old.7 During this process, which can take several months to go from start to finish, kittens tend to teethe on things. This includes toys, furniture, or even your hands and feet! Teething usually stops when cats are nine to ten months old, and adult cats are far from their teething phase.
5. Adult Cats Are Less Mischievous But Still Playful
All cats can be very playful, but they don’t play for the same amount of time as dogs. Most cats are programmed to play in short bursts of energy, and then they rest and recover for larger parts of the day. Most people think of kittens as non-stop playful, but adult cats can also be this way! Since most cats can become bored with the same toy over and over again, you can try changing up the toy types. Start with chasing or moving toys one day but then go with a laser pointer or feather toy the next day. Even senior kitties enjoy staring at moving targets as it enhances their mental health as well.
6. Adult Cats Are Better with Children and Other Pets
Kittens tend to be more sensitive to fast movements, loud noises, and other animals and people. That’s not to say that they don’t enjoy these elements, but anxiety can factor into it as well. Kittens may prefer to go off and explore other parts of the home, but adult cats are more likely to sit on the couch with you and rest. Their calm demeanor makes them easier to work with. However, even adult cats can become stressed around very young children and young puppies. For best results, all cats should be gradually introduced to these members of the household.8
7. When You Adopt an Adult Cat, You Are Saving a Life!
There are millions of pets in shelters each year who go unadopted.9 Life inside of a small kennel is never fun for a cat. For their physical and mental health, they need plenty of space and environmental enrichment.10
Kittens tend to be adopted first because they are small, young, and exciting. But when you adopt an adult cat, you are making such a difference in the world for that one individual, who might have otherwise been overlooked by other adopters. This frees up space for new cats to come into the shelter or rescue. Also, you are making a difference in your life by sharing it with your new feline companion.
- Humane Society of Huron Valley. Rough Play in a Kitten or Adult Cat. Hshv.org. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Pleasant Plains Animal Hospital. Kittens: When is it okay to separate them from their mothers? Sivet.com. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats. Charlestonvrc.com. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Feyrecilde M. Housetraining for Kittens and Cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Williams K, Ward E. Creating a Weight Reduction Plan for Cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Pet Obesity Prevention. Ideal Dog and Cat Weight Ranges. Petobesityprevention.org. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Greencross Vets. Introduction to kitten teething. Greencrossvets.com. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- The Humane Society of the United States. Introducing your new cat to other pets. Humanesociety.org. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- ASPCA. Pet Statistics. Aspca.org. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Turner P, Berry J, Macdonald S. Animal shelters and animal welfare: raising the bar. Can Vet J. 2012;53(8):893-896. Accessed March 27, 2021.