Cat Behavior

Kitten Vs Cat: What Should You Adopt?

Kitten Vs Cat: What Should You Adopt?

So you've weighed the pros and cons of keeping a cat, and you've finally made the decision to adopt. Great choice! But now here comes the tricky question: Should you adopt a snuggly new kitten, or a refined mature cat? The debate of kittens vs cats ultimately comes down to you and your household. Are you prepared for the exuberance of a bombastic kitten, or does your lifestyle call for a more staid companion? Do you want to get in on training a little fluff ball that knows very little of the world, or are you happy to let a wiser creature make himself at home? There really is no wrong answer, but to help you come up with a clearer choice, here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of each age range.

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Kittens

Temperment

As with anyone else, each kitten has his own personality; however, because he has a lot of energy to burn, you can all but be certain that your new kitten will be just a little on the spastic side. Furthermore, these fuzzy little creatures know very little about the world, and certainly don't know the rules of the house. In fact, at this point, all they're aware of is what they've recently learned from their litter mates - so you'll likely notice some play aggression, including nipping and biting, swiping and attacking.

If you want to get a good feel for your chosen kitten's particular temperament, see how he behaves with his fellow kittens. Kittens who toe the line between normal play and flat-out fighting may become big bullies, while incredibly timid kittens may turn out to be withdrawn adults. Anything in between will probably develop into a neat, well-rounded cat. Bear in mind, though, that at this stage, kittens are very malleable; in many cases, with the right care and training, a bellicose kitten can be mellowed, and a shy kitten can be enlivened.

Needs

Although cats are naturally independent creatures, kittens require a good deal of attention and training. As I mentioned earlier, these sweet little babies know very little. Of course, their mother has trained them in the ways of being a cat, but you need to continue their education in order to make them good roommates. In addition to training, kittens have to have a lot of play time to help them shake off all that extra energy. Finally, until they reach about 1 year of age, their nutritional and health needs will vary from those of an adult cat, so you'll likely be spending a good deal of time bonding with your cat's new veterinarian.

Benefits
  • Kittens are a blank slate and highly impressionable, making it easier to break bad habits and shape a stellar personality.
  • Kittens are teensy balls of comedy - just try not to giggle at their antics!
  • Kittens help you get some extra exercise, as you'll be spending a good deal of time dragging their toys around the house.
  • Because they are so reliant on you at this point, kittens tend to take you out of yourself.
Drawbacks
  • Kittens require a pretty hefty time investment, as they need you to guide them through these early days.
  • Kittens are generally more expensive than older cats, requiring numerous shots, specialty foods, plus all the regular cat-related setups like toys, trees, carrying crate, etc.
  • Kittens need a good deal of training to help them learn their manners - from litter box training to proper eating etiquette, from learning not to attack feet to figuring out what is and is not acceptable to scratch.
  • Kittens get into everything... I mean everything, so in addition to time spent training and bonding, you're going to spend a good deal of time keeping them out of trouble!

Cats

Temperment

When it comes to the kitten Vs cat debate, you might find yourself drawn to the big round eyes and squeaky little meow of a kitten, but don't discount the numerous charms of their more seasoned counterparts. Like kittens, each cat has his own personality, and the only way to be sure of it is to sit down and spend a little time with him. Some traits, though, are more frequently present in mature felines. For instance, older cats tend to be a good deal calmer and more independent. They are also more set in their ways, so breaking habits - though not impossible - can be a tricky process. Despite this, grown ups are generally already trained in some very important things, like using the litter box and behaving politely towards your appendages. Furthermore, if you adopt from a shelter or rescue, they'll come spayed or neutered, and likely won't need any shots for a good long while.

Needs

Despite their aloof reputation, cats do need attention. Thankfully, this attention is usually less about training, and more about bonding. If your adult cat is into it, cuddling and lap sitting are mandatory - but only when he says so, of course - as is play time. With a cat, though, play generally takes up less time, and let's face it... the quality of cuddle is superior with older cats. I mean... there's more to hug, right? In addition to bonding moments, older cats will also require a good deal of alone time, so don't be surprised if your love is occasionally rebuffed. Depending on your cat's age, you may also need to pay special attention to his health. This is always important; however, as kitties get older, they become more apt to develop health problems, so as the years pass, you might find yourself visiting your vet more often.

Benefits
  • Cats are comparatively low maintenance.
  • Many mature cats tend to be gentler companions, making them an excellent choice if you have¬†children or other pets.
  • Since they've already grown into their personalities, once you've spent some time with him, you can be pretty certain of his particular quirks, traits, wants and needs.
  • Cats tend to be more appreciative, less destructive, and happy to just hang out with you.
Drawbacks
  • Mature cats can sometimes be less energetic, so if you're really into play time, you may be disappointed.
  • Senior cats are more prone to illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and urinary tract diseases.
  • Cats aren't really crazy about change, so it may take a while to get your mature kitty used to his new home and family.
  • When adopting from a shelter, you likely won't know a lot about his history, so surprises may pop up - especially during the first few months.

Conclusion

If you're going back and forth on the kitten vs cat debate, it is totally understandable. Both have plenty of good points, and certainly, both have their downsides. If you're really unsure, just visit your local shelter and spend some time with as many kitties as possible. There's a lot of truth to the saying, "You don't choose your cat, your cat chooses you." As a final note, if you're not sure where to find a nearby shelter, have a look here for US-based shelters, or here for international shelters.



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Feature image by Broc via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 3.0


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