Adopting Adult Cats Instead of Kittens
What Is Wrong With Adopting a Kitten?
In a word, nothing. There are many, many kittens available (especially in the spring and early summer) who will be needing forever homes.
The problem is that almost everyone falls in love with the sweet, innocent, wide-eyed baby face of a fluffy kitten. Everyone wants to adopt a kitten. Even though there are still far too many of these babies put down at so-called "shelters," it is still easier to find homes for kittens than for adult cats.
Update: Please note that all the H.A.L.O. cats featured in this article's photos have since been adopted, except for Luv-Luv, who was taken back by her original owners. That was a happy ending for all of them.
Is an Adult Cat a Better Choice Than a Kitten?
Well, that depends upon your circumstances. It may or may not be a better choice, but it is still a very reasonable and valid choice.
Adult Cats Don't Get Adopted as Quickly
As mentioned above, adult cats are more of a 'hard sell' case than kittens, so they tend to languish longer in cages that are not their home. A cat that has once had a real home, and suddenly finds itself in a small cage with no room to romp and play, can rapidly become depressed and anxious.
If they are left there too long, their entire personality can undergo a shift. Rescuing a cat from this situation is a wonderful, heart-warming thing to do. The cat will be forever grateful. Trust me. Even though cats are famous for being independent and having "attitude," you will know that your mature feline friend is happy to be in a real home again.
Rescue Homes, Shelters, and Rescue Organizations
Some kitties live in rescue homes until they can be matched with just the right person, and these are the lucky ones—they have a real home environment while they await adoption. It is much less stressful for the cat.
In between the foster/rescue home and the sad case of "shelters," are the rescue organizations that house animals until they are adopted—and do not ever put an animal down. Sadly, though, they, too, can run out of space, at which time animals may be put on a waiting list or simply denied. If that happens, the relinquished pet often ends up in a "shelter," anyway, or—worst of all—just dumped somewhere.
What Are the Advantages of Adopting an Adult Cat?
There are several advantages in opening your home to an adult kitty. Again, it depends on your own circumstances, but here are just a few reasons an adult may be a better choice:
1. You, or a family member, may be somewhat elderly and do not want a rambunctious kitten underfoot to trip you or make you keep getting up to remove said kitten from places you don't want it to be, such as climbing the draperies.
2. You may have a dog, and even if you are pretty sure the dog won't attack the cat, most dogs are larger than most cats (with the exception of the small toy breeds of dogs), and a dog plays more roughly and could hurt a kitten by accident. Even a small dog is larger than a tiny kitten, and there is still danger to the kitty.
If you are interested in a H.A.L.O. kitty, we have a policy that you promise to NEVER have the cat declawed, and that you keep kitty in a safe indoor-only environment.
3. An adult cat can look out for itself, or run and hide, perching someplace the dog cannot reach, when it has had enough of doggy play (or perhaps even "own" the dog and "teach it a lesson").
4. In the case of an elderly person looking for a companion, again, an older cat is calmer. I hate to bring up this point, actually, but an older cat may not have many more years left than the person, and the family won't have the problem of "what to do with a cat that has outlived its owner." Death of the owner is a major reason for adult cats ending up in shelter or rescue situations, because the rest of the family did not want the kitty. This is so sad.
5. Conversely, if there are very young children in the home, a kitten can be in danger of being "loved to death" by overly enthusiastic hugs from small kids. A mellow adult cat known to be okay around kids is a better choice. As with the dog issue, an adult cat is better able to get itself out of reach when it has had enough, while a kitten may react by biting or scratching, as they do when playing with their siblings.
An Adult Cat Is Grateful to Be Rescued
Who Are All These Cats Pictured Here?
I volunteer for H.A.L.O (Homeless Animals' Lifeline Organization), a rescue group in Eastern Contra Costa County in California. We take in cats and dogs—adults as well as puppies and kittens.
My personal interest is the cats, because I no longer have the physical stamina or strength to keep up with a dog. Dogs are more high-maintenance, and as we have cats at home, I am very familiar with handling them.
All of the cats shown in this article are those who were available, as of this writing in June of 2012, and who were languishing, unchosen, at the rescue facility we used to have in Oakley, CA. They were there about 4 months.
While we did have different shifts of volunteers coming in on a daily basis to see to the cats' needs and let them out for some exercise, grooming, playtime and socialization, in the end, they all went back to their cages, and it is just not the same as having a home.
Update: H.A.L.O. no longer has a physical facility. The reason and details are complicated, but suffice it to say, all of the adoptable cats of any age are now housed exclusively with foster family caregivers and taken to adoption events on the weekends at local pet shops. This is much less stressful for the cats, particularly the adults.
Further update: The photo of "Shadow," above, is one of our personal rescues who now lives with us. In this photo, she appears to be black, but that was a lighting issue. She is actually a very pretty deep gray, known as a "Russian Blue."
Related Article by a Fellow Author
- Cat Adoption Tips for Older Cats
Need tips on cat adoption? Consider adopting an older cat. The challenges and rewards are worth it!
Save a Life and Give Yourself Some Joy
What are you waiting for? Go get a nice, mellow, grown-up kitty!
© 2012 Liz Elias