Source: Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash
Most people want a kitten. But this is not always the best choice for their lifestyle.
Let’s talk about the options.
Kittens are cute, silly, and will leave you laughing. Well, laughing when you’re not weeping over the shredded drapes or watching your little kitty seem to fly through the air and land on you or chase your ankles when you walk into a room.
Kittens fly and pounce because it’s fun. It’s a game for them, but it can be a nuisance for anyone who doesn’t realize that this is normal behavior in kittens. You can teach a kitten alternate behaviors (we’ll be discussing how to do that, and more, later in this book), but you can’t make him calm down. Kittens have a lot of energy.
Kittens are curious little creatures, and that curiosity can get them into a world of trouble, especially when they’re also cute and small. Curiosity is a trait cats don’t outgrow, but they usually do become more mellow and sensible with time and training.
Another thing to consider is that kittens don’t stay small very long. They’re so adorable when they’re tiny, but they grow so fast that it seems as if you can see changes overnight! That tiny little fluff ball who fit into the palm of your hand the day you brought him home will rapidly become the size of a grown cat with the mischief making of a fourlegged juvenile delinquent. Kittens’ personalities often change, too, as they grow and become more confident.
With adult cats, what you see is pretty much what you get. Of course, they will change some as they become comfortable in your home and their shyness subsides. But, by and large, an adult cat’s personality is what you see when you meet and interact with him before you bring him home.
Adult cats can be an absolute delight, and since a healthy cat will live a long life, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a wonderfully bonded relationship for many years to come. You’ll also be giving a cat a new chance at life. There are many reasons why an adult cat may need a new home: Perhaps his previous owners couldn’t keep him; perhaps he would do better in a home as an only cat.
Particularly wonderful is the trend of older people adopting older pets. Senior cats often can’t find a new home, and senior people benefit from the companionship of a pet. This is definitely a win-win. Research has shown that seniors with pets are more active and feel less lonely and isolated. Senior cats are more mellow and less active, which is safer for a senior. An active young cat can get under the bars of a walker or the wheels of a wheelchair, or may be frightened of a cane. Also, an older person with an unsteady gait can all too easily trip or fall over a kitten or young cat who hasn’t learned to get out of the way. The last thing an older person needs is a fall.
Thirty-two muscles control a cat’s outer ear, or pinna, so he can rotate his ears independently. This is a Russian Blue. As humans get older, one of the issues that must be faced is arranging, in advance, for someone to take their four-legged companions if they become incapacitated or die. That becomes more of an issue with a senior who has a kitten or a younger cat.
An older cat has mellowed out from that active kitten stage and yet is still wonderfully playful. You can have many rich, fulfilling years together. And age won’t stop some of the more active ones from flying onto your shoulder from on top of the refrigerator or swinging from the dining room chandelier. You are not losing anything by getting an older cat, but you and the cat have everything to gain.
If you are still deciding between a kitten and a cat, think about how much patience you have and what your schedule is like.
Do you have any dogs, other cats, or at least one human at home to entertain a lively, curious kitten while you’re at work? And don’t forget those sleepless nights you’ll have with a kitten who is running around with the nighttime crazies.
An older kitty would be grateful to spend the day napping, waiting for you to come home from work. These cats just want to be loved, cared for, protected from the elements, and secure in their later years. They have so much love to give.
If you must have a kitten, get two of them for the sake of the cat. They might trash your home as they explore and learn, but they will be much more behaviorally healthy than an underexercised only kitten would become as an adult.
For optimum human sanity and humane care, think about adopting a mother and her kitten from a shelter. Cats live in female-centered groups, so mom and her kitten will already be comfortable with the social structure. You’ll give the kitten the best behavioral start possible and you’ll save the life of an adult cat.