The vast majority of people who decide to adopt a cat choose a kitten. And why not? Kittens are so cute -- they're irresistible. Many people like the idea of watching their pet grow and they feel that by adopting a kitten they're starting out with a "clean slate." They are under the impression that they "Can teach it to be the cat I want it to be". While we do have some influence over a cat's adult personality, the truth is that much of a cat's disposition is "hard-wired". Many people have told us about adopting sibling kittens who are then raised under identical circumstances but grow up to have VERY different personalities.
When you adopt an adult cat you have a much better idea of what you are getting. There are no guarantees that you'll be able to teach a kitten to be a lap cat or a playful cat. If you really have your heart set on a certain personality trait, you are much better off adopting an adult who has the trait you are looking for rather than trying to force that trait on to a kitten.
What most people don't realize, however, is that caring for a kitten is a lot like caring for a baby. Young kittens need almost constant supervision. You have to safeguard their health -- electrical cords, knickknacks, household cleaners, drawers, window screens, bathroom garbage, and other pets can place a kitten's safety at risk.
Kittens also have endless energy. Expect your kitten to spend its nights scaling your drapes and running up and down your stairs and across your countertops. Rarely will a young kitten sleep at the foot of your bed.
Depending on your age and lifestyle, you may be better off adopting an adult cat. If you work long days, are elderly or have children under six, consider adopting an adult cat. Because senior citizens are often unprepared for a kitten's energy level and tendency to be underfoot, most experts recommend a calm adult or older cat. Also, if you plan to leave a kitten home alone while you're working, it may become lonely and destructive. Very busy people may even consider adopting two cats to keep each other company.
If you have an older cat and want to add a kitten, you also might be better off adopting two. A single kitten is going to look to the older cat for company and the older cat is likely to be annoyed by a kitten. Two kittens will play with each other and the older cat can sleep in peace.
Young children move quickly and like to hug pets. Kids can accidentally hurt a small kitten, who might bite or scratch if it's scared. An adult cat, on the other hand, is more likely to tolerate children and less likely to be injured.
The best part about adopting an adult or older cat? You're literally saving a life. Because most people want to adopt kittens, a cat's chances for adoption decrease with age. Sadly, in too many shelters and municipal pounds most older cats are euthanized. Most of these cats would make wonderful pets if someone would give them a chance.
Your message has been sent to PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society).
You'll receive a copy, too, at to help you keep track of which pets you've inquired about, and which shelters and rescues you've emailed.
NOTE: Some shelters have physical locations you can visit; some of these shelters may only have pets for a limited time, so please do not wait for a reply—just go visit the shelter! Other organizations are rescue groups run by busy volunteers who may take a while to reply. You can find information about the shelter or rescue group caring for this pet, and their adoption procedures, on the pet's details page on Adopt-a-Pet.com.