Kittens vs. Cats: Which is right for you?

With National Kitten Day coming up on July 10, if your first instinct is to adopt a kitten rather than an adult cat, you aren't alone. Kittens are cute, playful and just about as appealing as you can get. But a kitten's seemingly limitless energy is not something you can turn off when you've had enough.

What most people don't realize is that caring for a kitten is a lot like caring for a baby. Young kittens need almost constant supervision. You must kitten-proof your home from common household dangers - electrical and computer cords, knickknacks, household cleaners, drawers, window screens, toilet bowls, your feet, and other pets can place a kitten's safety at risk.

Young children move quickly and like to hug pets. Kids can accidentally hurt a small kitten, which might bite or scratch if it's frightened. The right adult cat, on the other hand, is more likely to tolerate children and less likely to be injured.

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. Furthermore, kittens grow quickly, becoming nearly full size by six months of age but often continuing kitten behaviors for much longer.

When you adopt an adult cat, you know exactly what you’re getting. You know what they look like. You can tell whether the cat is laid-back or active, vocal or quiet, cuddly, curious or shy. Alternatively, it is often hard to break an older cat of bad habits so doing so might take a little more time and patience. 

Most adult cats at animal shelters will also be spayed or neutered and had all of their needles, so that might be a deciding factor if you’re worried about those initial vet costs.

If you work outside your home, and the cat will be alone all day, an adult cat is a better choice. Kittens on their own tend to be lonely and can get into trouble while looking for amusement. Older cats sleep more and are often satisfied entertaining themselves.

The best part about adopting an adult or senior cat? You're literally saving a life. Because most people want to adopt kittens, a cat's chances for adoption decrease with age. Most of these cats make wonderful pets when someone gives them a chance.  

Regardless of whether you adopt a kitten or an adult cat, you are going to be doing a good deed. The shelters are full of both cats and kittens in need of loving homes.