Adopting a new cat is very exciting but before you go and pick up your new pet you need to decide if you want an older cat or a kitten. Both are loving, wonderful pets but they have different needs based on their age and maturity level. Let’s look at the key differences between the two so you can make a well-informed decision.
Ball of Energy
Kittens have energy to burn. They bring life into a house with their constant running, chasing and playing. Kittens will have you laughing as they chase their tails for hours. They are bundles of fun to play with. Kittens can be mischievous though, so they need to be properly supervised to avoid breaking anything in your home or injuring themselves. If you prefer a quieter house, an older cat is a better option for you. Older cats are calmer, quieter and not as rambunctious. An older cat will adjust more easily to his new home, will often be more affectionate and will love to sit on your lap for hours. If you have small children in your home, an older cat may not want to play as much as your children do and may have less patience. You need to determine what works best for your family and for your new pet.
Both older cats and kittens need certain items – such as a litter box, litter, collar, toys, treats and food. Just make sure you buy toys, treats and food that are suitable for your cat’s age and lifestyle. For example, while kittens love a toy that they can bat around and chase, older cats need a little more enticement to play, so a catnip toy would be appropriate. Either way, you will need to purchase some essentials for your new pet. Another factor that will affect your wallet is veterinary bills. While a kitten can be given a clean bill of health, there are still expenses that will come up in the first few years of your kitten’s life, such as vaccinations and spaying/neutering. Once those vaccinations are complete, the financial commitment decreases significantly with a new kitten. With older cats the initial monetary commitment can be much less. Most often they are already up to date in vaccinations, spayed or neutered and sometimes declawed. Down the road there are potential health concerns with older cats, such as bad gums or diabetes, but you can help prevent some health issues with certain foods and regular exercise. In both cases, for kittens and older cats, prevention is the key to keeping them healthy and the veterinary bills to a minimum. Keeping up to date with vaccinations and annual veterinary appointments is a great way to prevent any future health issues and ensure your cat lives a long, healthy life.
Wherefore Art Thou Litter Box?
Older cats are often already trained to use a litter box. While the type of litter you use may be different than what they are used to, they know that their business should be done inside a litter box. When adopting your mature cat, be sure to ask what type of litter they are used to (clay? clumping? wheat? scented?) and slowly transition your cat to whatever litter you will be buying.
Kittens will most likely need to be trained to use the litter box. Initially, when you bring your kitten home, immediately take her to the litter box. If she does not start digging in the litter, help her move her little paws in a digging motion. Cats instinctively will bury their waste so simulating digging will let her know that this is where you want her to do her business. Some kittens pick up on it right away and some kittens take a few weeks; try to be patient as this is something completely new to your kitten. If your kitten is taking a little longer, it may be smart to pick up some Stain & Odor Remover!
Both older cats and kittens benefit from their litter box being placed in a safe, quiet and private place, but you also want it to be accessible for both you and your cat. Try not to place it near your cat’s food and water bowls and don’t forget to scoop it out frequently. Make use of these tips and you and your cat are on your way to litter box success!
Making New Friends
If you already have a pet, whether it is a cat or a dog, bringing home a new family member could be stressful to your resident pet. Be patient with your existing pets; they may take a while to adjust to a new cat or kitten in their home. Eventually the pets will learn how to cohabitate and hopefully become lifelong friends. A new, adopted older cat can hold its “personal space” when learning how to adjust to other household animals and your new older cat may end up being the ‘dominant’ one of the household.
Bringing home a new kitten may not impress your resident pets initially, especially if they are significantly older. The key is to introduce slowly and show your new kitten and existing pets equal attention. The kitten should have his own food and water bowl, and litter box. A kitten is always up for playing, so once the pets are relatively adjusted, try to play games with them that they can all play together. Teach them that their new housemate is fun to be around and a great new playmate.
Tall, Dark & Handsome
Do you have your heart set on a grey and white cat with blue eyes? Or an orange cat with green eyes? You would not be alone, most people are partial to what colour and size cat they want. With older cats, you know what you are getting. Older cats have already grown into their looks, size and personality. Want a cat that is quiet and keeps to himself? Older cats already have distinct personalities so you have a better idea of who you will be sharing your home with. Like human beings, the older they get the more they are set in their ways; the benefit of older cats is that you can pick a cat that fits into your lifestyle and matches the kind of pet you want.
Kittens can be unpredictable in many ways, including their physical appearance! Your once blue-eyed kitten can turn into a brown-eyed cat. The runt of the litter may not turn into the most petite adult. Some of the fun in watching kittens grow is that you get to see them physically mature as well as develop their own, unique personalities. If you have the chance to observe your kitten with its littermates, you will probably be able to distinguish differences its personalities already but the real enjoyment comes from watching its character grow with your family. There is no guarantee that a kitten’s personality won’t change again, and the most outgoing kitten could turn out to be a reserved adult cat. Whether you adopt an older cat or a young kitten, you will love its individual personality and know that it’s what makes them such a special pet.
Whether you choose an adorable, spritely new kitten or a beautiful, mature cat, you will discover that the love they give is equally unconditional. Enjoy your new family member.