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Adopting an Adult Cat or Kitten: Pros & Cons

Congratulations, you’ve decided to welcome a new feline family member into your house! This is an exciting time for any soon-to-be cat owners, but it can also be stressful. You’ll need to make many decisions before opening your home to a new pet. Where will you acquire this new pet? A breeder, shelter, or local pet store? How will you divvy up the pet care responsibilities among your family members? But perhaps the most important decision you need to make is whether you will adopt a kitten or an adult cat.

If you’re not sure what age range will be best, we can help. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of adopting an adult cat versus a kitten so you can pick the perfect kitty for your home.

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At A Glance

Adopting a Kitten Adopting an Adult Cat
$50 to $250 adoption fee from a shelter $0 to $150 adoption fee from a shelter
Up to $2,000 or more to adopt from a breeder Up to $1,000 to adopt a retired breeding cat
Personality is malleable in some ways Personality is mostly already set in stone
Often best adopted in pairs Can do well in single-cat households
Highly energetic and mischievous Mostly well-adjusted and relaxed

Overview of Adopting a Kitten:

Kittens are almost always the first cats to be adopted from shelters. While this can partially be attributed to the adorableness that comes with the territory of being a young animal, pet parents often choose younger animals to adopt because they want to have as much time with their pets as possible. Adopting a kitten means receiving up to 20 years of joy and love.

adopting a cat
Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

Kitten Temperament

A kitten’s personality will change greatly in the first year as his true personality develops. A crazy energetic kitten with the zoomies all day long may grow to be a laid-back lap cat in his adult years. You never truly know your kitten’s final personality until he’s had a chance to mature.

Kittens are much work because they’re new to the world and curious about its inner workings. They get into everything, and many love to explore their surroundings by clawing and chewing.

If you don’t have any cats in the home, you might consider adopting two kittens. Bringing home a pair of kittens can make your job easier as they’ll always have a playmate to rely on.

Pricing for Kittens

The price for kitten adoption will depend on many factors.

Where you’re acquiring your kitten from plays a huge role in the adoption price. Local animal shelters and humane societies typically sell kittens for between $50 and $250. However, if your heart is set on a purebred, you’re looking at anywhere between $500 to $2,000 or more.

However, it isn’t just the cost of the adoption that you’ll need to consider when adopting a kitten.

If your kitten doesn’t come spayed or neutered, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for these procedures. Depending on your chosen clinic, the cost can range from $50 to $500. If this cost is out of your price range, you may be able to take advantage of your community’s no-cost spay and neuter clinic.

Kittens must be immunized several times throughout their first year of life. The core vaccinations should be non-negotiable as they protect your pet from common feline diseases. If your kitten is not vaccinated at the time of adoption, you’ll be looking at around $200 and $500 for the examinations and vaccinations.

It is important to note that most kittens you’ll acquire from shelters or breeders will have the cost of their spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations included in the adoption price. This isn’t always the case, though.

cat getting adopted
Image Credit: Anika Moritz, Shutterstock

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Who Should Adopt a Kitten?

Kittens are great for people who spend a lot of time at home. A young cat is not unlike a young human, as they require almost constant supervision for the first few months of their lives. Owners adopting a kitten should be prepared to spend most of their time overseeing their pet’s curious nature and ensuring they’re not getting into trouble.

Kittens fit in with families with older children who know how to respect boundaries. Younger children often don’t realize how fragile a kitten can be, so it’s best to hold off on adopting one until your kids are old enough to play with and handle a kitten safely.

  • Up to 20 years of companionship
  • Super cute appearance
  • Can train the right habits from the get-go
  • Funny antics
  • Super playful and fun
  • They grow quickly (the cute kitten stage ends fast)
  • Can cause mayhem
  • Needs a lot of supervision


Overview of Adopting an Adult Cat:

It’s very common for animal shelters to be overrun with adult cats. They’re generally less popular than kittens as they don’t have that irresistible baby animal adorableness and have already lived a portion of their lives. That doesn’t mean you should nix the idea of adopting an adult cat altogether. There are many benefits to choosing a mature cat over a kitten.

woman adopting a cat
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

Adult Cat Temperament

The great thing about adopting an adult cat is that what you see is what you get. An older kitty already knows who he is, and his temperament won’t change much. However, breaking older cats of bad habits can be very difficult.

They’re generally more laidback than their kitten counterparts and require less supervision. That’s not to say that adult cats aren’t playful, though. They still need access to toys and enrichment items like scratching posts and cat towers. You’ll still need to set aside time daily to play with your adult cat to keep his mental and physical stimulation where it needs to be.

Adults have a more predictable daily schedule. They thrive on routine and will generally sleep when you sleep. Most won’t keep you up all night with their antics.

Many adult cats thrive in single-cat households, but this isn’t always true, as it depends on their past living situation. If you already have a cat in your home, you’ll need to do a slow introductory period to increase the likelihood of the two cats getting along. Not all cats will adjust well to having another pet in the home, so that’s something to remember as you decide whether adopting another cat is worth it. The good news is that when you adopt an adult cat, you’ll know whether he gets along well with other animals before going through with the adoption.

Pricing for Adult Cats

Adopting an adult cat is often much cheaper than adopting a kitten. Since kittens are more highly sought after, shelters and breeders will ask for lower adoption fees for adults to give them a chance at getting adopted. The lower price may also be because most adults have been spayed/neutered and have had the necessary vaccinations. You can expect to pay up to $175 for an adult cat, though some shelters may even offer free adoptions for seniors.

Adopting an adult purebred from a breeder is another option. You may find retired breeding cats for a reduced rate. You can expect to pay up to $1,000 for these purebreds.

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Who Should Adopt an Adult Cat?

An adult cat is best suited for households with working professionals who are kept busy throughout the week with work. They generally have less energy than kittens and won’t wreak as much havoc in your home when you’re not supervising them.

Older kitties are great for homes with children as they’re less fragile than their kitten counterparts and less likely to get hurt by an overzealous toddler accidentally.

Adult cats are great for older humans who prefer the company of a calm cat versus the boundless energy of a kitten. If you’re a senior, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the company of a low-key senior or adult cat that prefers sitting in your lap rather than a kitten that enjoys climbing your curtains.

  • Saving an animal from shelter life
  • Personality is already developed
  • No “terrible two” toddler stage of development
  • Likely already spayed or neutered
  • Already litter trained
  • More affordable
  • Won’t get as much time together
  • Can be difficult to break bad habits
  • Can be hard to earn their trust

Should I Adopt a Bonded Pair?

There are pros and cons to adopting a bonded pair of kittens or adult cats.

Pros of Adopting Bonded Pairs

Adopting a bonded pair of kittens can mean they both have improved social development. As with children, cats learn by imitating one another. They watch each other to learn how to play, use the litter box appropriately, and interact with their human family members.

Truly bonded animals have positive and healthy relationships with one another. Separating them can induce stress, anxiety, and even depression.

Bonded pairs often have an easier transition period to your home. Moves can be frightening for any animal, but they may find security in numbers if they move with a buddy.

young woman hugging her cat
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Cons of Adopting Bonded Pairs

The biggest con of adopting a bonded pair of cats is that it requires double the expenses. Sometimes animal shelters will offer a discount if you adopt two cats at once, but this isn’t always the case. It isn’t only the adoption price you’ll need to consider but also the costs for ongoing care.

Additionally, bonded pairs often sit in animal shelters for months because it takes longer to find a home they can go to together. This can mean the cats sit in the shelter’s high-stress environment, which may impact their physical and mental well-being.

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We hope our article has helped you decide whether a kitten or an adult cat suits your current lifestyle and financial situation.

Kittens are by far and large the most popular age of cat for adoption. They’re so cute, energetic, and fun at that age, but they require a lot of training, supervision, and patience. While an adult cat will be less playful, it won’t upend your life in the same way a kitten will.

A significant time and financial commitment is required whether you adopt a kitten or an adult cat. Be sure you’re in the right place mentally and financially before adding a new feline family member to your home.

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