The Ultimate Guide to Adopting a Kitten or Cat

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Thinking about adopting a kitten or cat?

If it’s the right time for you to add a kitten or a cat to your household, you’re probably pretty excited. Nothing beats bringing home a new friend who will be part of your family for years to come.

Before you make your decision, there’s a lot to consider. First, you want to make sure you, your family or roommates and your home are all ready for the fun – and potential challenges – your new cat will bring. But once you get into the actual process of deciding what kind of cat or kitten you should bring home, you’ll want to closely analyze if you want to rescue an older cat or purchase a kitten. From there, you may want some more information on how to do either. We’ve put together this guide to give you a deeper look into what goes into adopting a cat or kitten.

Adopting a Kitten or Cat — What You Need to Know

Kitten or adult: which is right for you?. Bringing home a new kitten ensures you’ll have a bundle of joy to watch and years to enjoy his growth. Adopting or rescuing an adult cat lets you save a life and bring home a truly grateful companion. Both come with benefits and challenges.

There is usually very little guesswork with an adult cat. He is full grown, and you don’t have to guess whether he is a shorthair or longhair. Additionally, he usually comes litter-box trained and has outgrown the impulse to chew on everything. Although he may still like to play, he won’t be running in a high gear all the time. An older cat is also more likely to meld into the existing hierarchy established by your other dogs and cats. If he is healthy, an adult cat should not need as many trips to the veterinarian as a kitten.

However, with most rescue pets you are unsure of your cat’s previous environment. Depending on his personality and experiences, an adult cat may take longer to bond with you. There could be a reason why the adult cat was put up for adoption in the first place. He may suffer from serious behavioral problems, and he might prove to be a difficult pet.

Meanwhile, a kitten is a clean slate. His habits haven’t been set, and you get to teach him and watch him grow. Adopting a kitten also gives you the advantage of developing a strong, priceless bond.

But even with your best guess, you are not really sure of the kitten’s final haircoat length. This can cause problems if your kitten ends up with long hair, and you don’t have the time to brush him daily. Kittens are also famous for their non-stop energy and desire to play – especially at night. Without another kitten to play with, you become the target. They have sharp teeth and claws, and they can play pretty rough. Kittens also can be destructive to your couch, plants, carpet and whatever else you may treasure.

Where Should You Find a New Cat or Kitten?

If this is your first cat, or if you’re new to your neighborhood, you might wonder where you should go find your pet. Shelters, rescue groups, breeders and other resources are available in most cities with a quick web search. Every outlet offers its own benefits, and some have some red flags you should watch for.

Here is a general overview of where you can purchase or adopt a cat or kitten:

  • Shelters – Shelters are often a great place to rescue an adult cat, and many of them have time to work with them to give you some insight on their personality and fit into your home.
  • Rescue Groups – Rescue organizations generally place animals without operating a facility to house them. Organization members will provide foster care in their homes to cats until they can be permanently placed.
  • Breeders – If you want a purebred cat, find breeders in the national cat magazines, visit a cat show or surf the Internet. Like good shelters, breeders will interview you to make certain you will provide a good home and ask you to sign a contract.
  • Internet – Finding the right cat may be only a mouse click away. Many shelters have sites where they post photos of cats available for adoption. The “cybershelter” available from the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and makes it easy for you view adoptable cats in your area.
  • Breed Rescue – Purebred cats occasionally turn up at shelters or in newspapers. Groups have sprung up to rescue purebred cats from shelter situations and find them homes with people who would prefer a breed. Listings of purebred cat rescue groups can be found at Eden Publications’ or the Internet Cat Club’s Web site at, among other locations.
  • Newspapers – Yes, the newspaper classified section still does the trick! Be very careful when adopting from an individual you don’t know; ask the owner for the name of the cat’s veterinarian and vaccination certificates.
  • Pet stores – Pet store pets are often obtained through kitten mills – breeders who care only about making money rather than the health and well-being of the animals produced. Forward-thinking pet stores have become off-site adoption agencies for local shelters and animal organizations. If you are hesitant to go to a shelter to adopt, visit a pet store that has shelter animals available in the store.
  • Strays – There is no shortage of free-roaming cats in the world. They may find you instead of the other way around. Many of these cats are grateful for being brought indoors, and saving a cat from a life on the street carries its own reward.


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