Adopting a cat or kitten is a joyful experience, and if you’re like me, you would take them all home if you could. With so many adorable cats and kittens just waiting for a home, how do you choose the right cat for you and your family?
Choosing the right kitty for you isn’t as simple as adopting the most adorable whiskered face you can find. There are other factors to consider regarding the needs of your new feline friend and how your lifestyle is able to meet his kitty needs. Your stage in life plays a role in deciding which type of kitty is the best fit for you.
Young First-Time Pet Owners
Are you newly on your own, trying to make your mark in the world and starting your brand-new career? If you’re away from home for many hours at a time, and especially if you are a first-time pet owner, then a kitten or high-maintenance breed like a Bengal, Ragdoll or Persian might not be an ideal cat for you.
A young adult cat who has already been socialized and is past his wild ‘n crazy kittenhood is a better fit for the active young adult’s lifestyle. Of course, your adult cat will need plenty of places to nap, things to climb, and stimulating toys to play with, too, so he won’t get bored while home alone. A bonded kitty pair who can keep each other company when you aren’t at home could be the best fit for a young and on-the-go person who works late hours, and might party late hours, too.
Families with Young Children
Families with young babies or toddlers can be a wonderful environment for a super easy-going older cat, or a young adult gentle breed cat like a Maine Coon, Birman or the loving Sphynx. Toddlers might be a little too aggressive to be around very tiny kittens, and parents of young children may be a little too occupied to give needy kittens the handling and socialization they need.
Older adult cats can also be good with younger children, since they tend to be calm and don’t stress as easily as a very young cat. An accidental tail pull of an older cat might be better tolerated then it would be by a younger cat. Older cats also tend to sleep quite a bit, and anyone looking on YouTube has seen plenty of cute babies and cats slumbering peacefully together.
Families with Older Children
Once your kids get older and can be taught how to best handle them, kittens and younger cats can be a great addition to the family. My friend, Linda, and her family just adopted their very first kitten, after having adopted all adult cats. Everyone from Linda’s husband to their 13-year-old-son is fascinated watching his tiny kitten antics, not to mention his rapid growth! Even their adult cats and their dog are capitated by the tiny bundle of fluff.
Kittens can teach kids responsibility and how to take care of another living being, not to mention they are great fun to play with, too. Those more energetic breeds of any age like the loyal Maine Coon, Bengal, or Siberian might also be a good choice as a family cat.
The kids are gone away to college or have gotten married, but you’re still feeling the need to be needed. A kitten is a wonderful choice for the empty nester who has plenty of parenting experience that will come in handy raising a kitten.
Kittens need lots of supervision to keep them out of trouble, as well as plenty of love and handling to become affectionate and socialized. They also need a human parent who has patience to spare, as they explore their environment and get into things.
Adult cats from some of the more affection-needy breeds like the Sphynx, Cornish Rex, or the Egyptian Mau are also perfect for the couple who has plenty of time and love to give. Senior cats may also be a good choice for the empty nester, since these cats may require closer observation to discover medical issues that may come up as they age, and someone who can afford the vet bills, too.
I have recently watched some YouTube videos of kittens and cats being taken to the nursing homes to visit with the seniors who live there. Those people seem to come alive when holding the tiny kittens, or while letting an older cat snooze on their laps. Many of them had to give up their pets when they moved into the nursing home, and they miss the companionship of a furry face.
Kittens are great fun, and if a senior person has the energy for them, then that is a wonderful pairing. Some older people may prefer instead to have an older, calmer kitty around who will sit by their side with them and keep them company while they watch TV. Again, it all just depends on the person’s lifestyle; a senior person who is traveling the world might not be a great fit for a kitten, while someone who is more of a home body might enjoy the extra energy that a tiny one brings.
Let’s Talk Fostering
If you’re still not sure what type or age might best suit your life, try fostering for a local rescue. Fostering helps prepare cats and kittens for their new home but allowing them to live in a home environment while awaiting adoption. Some cats born in shelters have not ever lived in a home, so fostering gives them that wonderful experience. Fostering also makes finding their purr-fect adopter easier, since the cat’s personality is well-documented by the fosterer.
Who knows, you may even become a “foster failure” and adopt one of these wonderful cats!
No matter who you adopt, once you decide to bring a cat or kitten into your life, your new cat or kitten will bring you many years of joy. Give him lots of love and attention in return, along with everything he needs to live a long and happy life with you. He will enrich your life beyond measure as you grow older together.
LINDA HALL AND RITA REIMERS
The Cat Behavior Alliance