By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 03/23/2022, edited: 11/07/2022
Few cuddly critters are cuter than inquisitive kittens. But their appeal means many pet parents overlook adult shelter cats for adoption in favor of these feline fur-babies.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), around 3.4 million cats enter shelters annually, and only 37% of these felines find their "furever" homes. This percentage is shockingly low, considering 80% of shelter pets (including dogs) are healthy and adoptable. Sadly, it's harder for adult cats to get adopted, with many either spending their lives in a shelter or euthanized.
Why do pet parents opt for a kitten rather than the mature ginger tom at their local shelter? That's a question we can't answer. But if you're on the hunt for a new kitty companion, here are 8 reasons why you should consider adopting an adult cat instead.
The main reason to adopt an adult cat instead of a kitten is that they're in desperate need of a home. The ASPCA estimates that shelters euthanize 41% of adult cats in their care. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that approximately 375,000 healthy cats are euthanized annually.
While euthanization rates of healthy cats at shelters is at its lowest point in US history, a significant number of cats are still being put down due to a lack of shelter space. Check out the adult cats at your local shelter before picking up a kitten from a litter.
"Purrhaps" the next best reason to adopt an adult cat is that it's more rewarding than adopting a kitten. As you might imagine, many adult cats at shelters have led hard lives, either being abandoned by their owners or picked up as strays.
Some cats have spent years at no-kill shelters. One example is Pierre, a 16-year-old diabetic tom that spent 4 years at PAWS Chicago (as reported by Block Club Chicago).
As you can imagine, it's incredibly heartwarming to take an adult cat out of the cage they've been living in for years. You'll undoubtedly get goosebumps watching your new little lion curl up on the couch or play excitedly with their favorite toy. The shelter volunteers might even get a bit emotional!
Because young cats are inherently curious and likely to get themselves into all sorts of trouble if left to their own devices, they may require round-the-clock supervision.
If you work a full-time job and have other commitments, then chances are you won't have the time to care for a kitten. It's a good idea to adopt an adult cat if you have a busy schedule. An adult cat is emotionally mature, independent, and will happily entertain themselves while you go about your day-to-day.
Teaching a kitten to be the "pawfect" feline friend isn't as simple as it seems. While most kittens master litter training with ease, there's always a chance your tiny tiger will have issues.
Teething could also cause problems. Your kitten will lose their baby teeth and get their adult chompers by around 6 months old. This may lead your cat to chew on soft electrical cables or toxic plants to soothe their painful gums. There may also be dental issues, such as overcrowding or retained deciduous teeth.
With adult cats, you won't have to worry about litter training, teething, or other issues associated with kittenhood — they're already excellent feline friends!
Adult cats already have developed personalities and mannerisms, so you know exactly what to expect from your new fur-baby. To find out if your new fur-baby is snuggly or standoffish, all you need to do is speak to the folks at the shelter or adoption center.
Knowing a cat's temperament and mannerisms will help you figure out if they're the right feline friend for your family. Kittens can be unpredictable and may develop quirks later in life that don't suit your needs or living situation.
Kittens are excitable, meaning they may not be the best pets for someone living with elderly relatives. At the same time, kittens are fragile and are in danger of being accidentally injured by boisterous children.
When you adopt an adult cat, you'll get a better sense of whether the cat will fit in with your family right off the bat. Shelter staff can provide details about each cat's history and temperament toward children and other pets, which means you won't be in for any nasty surprises later on down the road!
The initial vet costs of caring for a kitten will be much higher than an adult cat. The cost of initial exams, spay/neuter surgery, and core vaccinations against rabies and feline distemper can add up quickly. The first year of vet care for kittens is usually the most expensive, setting pet parents back several hundred dollars. Spay/neuter surgery alone can cost anywhere from $50 to $400 on average.
Most adult cats in shelters are spayed/neutered and have up-to-date vaccinations and flea treatments. Plus, having an adult cat means you won't have to worry about surprise health concerns like allergies. An adult cat's medical history is much clearer, making budgeting for pet healthcare much simpler.
Preparing your home for an adult cat can be lots of fun. It gives you a chance to spoil your new feline friend after they've spent months in an uncomfortable shelter.
Buying a selection of toys and watching your adult cat rekindle their kittenhood is a lovely sight. You'll also be able to buy them tasty treats and a comfy bed, which will help them settle into their new surroundings.
Kittens can be a bit more stressful to prepare for, as you'll have to kitten-proof your home to keep them away from dangerous objects, foods, and plants.
Thinking about adopting an adult cat? Here are a few tips on caring for an adult cat to make your adoption a success!
Staff members at the shelter know the cats in their care better than anyone. They’ll be able to tell you all about a cat’s temperament and whether they'd be a good fit for your family. You'll also learn more about their medical history and whether they need any special care.
A warm welcome is key to helping your new cat feel comfortable in your home. Many rescued cats have spent a long time in shelters and may be shocked by the sudden change of scenery. Providing plenty of toys, a safe space they can hide, and some tasty treats will help your cat adjust quickly.
Before adopting your new cat companion, find out whether they were allowed outside by their previous family. If they were solely an indoor cat and you'd like to let them roam the neighborhood, consider your surroundings and living situation.
For example, if you live next to a highway or in an apartment, a cat who's happy living indoors will likely be your best option. You may also want to search for some products that help keep outdoor cats safe, like GPS collars, ID tags, and parasite protection.
Cats can't tell us how they feel, so knowing how to read their body language is essential for keeping them happy and comfortable. Pay special attention to the ears, back, and tail. For example, if your cat has flat ears and an arched back, give them some space, as they may feel fearful or anxious.
Ready to welcome a new feline friend into your life? Download the Wag! app to cover all their care needs!
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© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download the Wag! app