Adopting a Kitten or Cat

A great deal time and thought must go into bringing a cat into the home. A cat can live for 15+ years. Have you discussed obtaining a cat with the rest of the family? It is essential that everybody should be happy to adopt a new family member. Do you have the finances to support a cat?

Expenses to budget for include:

  • Cat food
  • Cat litter
  • Regular parasite treatment (fleas, ticks, and worms)
  • Routine medical/veterinary costs such as annual vaccinations and health checks, worming medication, flea medication
  • Unexpected veterinary costs, these can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars

Do you have the time to commit to a cat? You will have to spend time playing with your cat, petting, feeding, cleaning litter trays and grooming. Do you know what you will do with your cat when you go on holidays? Do you have a friend or neighbour willing to house sit for you, if not, do you have the funds to pay for boarding when you are away?

Purebred or mixed breed?

Are you looking for a particular breed or cat or do you want a mixed breed cat? There are pros and cons to both. Many pure breeds have a particular personality trait, although this isn’t always a given. For example, Devon Rexes are active and friendly. Siamese cats are loyal and talkative. Persians are quiet and laid back. Take time to research the many different breeds if you want a purebred.

Mixed breed cats are just as special as purebreds and have just as much to offer a new owner.

One cat or two?

Adopting a kitten or cat

Are you away from home for extended periods? If so, it is better to adopt two cats, so they have company when you are not at home. This will mean greater expense, twice the food, vet bills etc., but you will also have double the fun!!!

Where is the best place to get a cat?

Adopting a kitten or cat

This depends if you want a purebred or mixed breed cat.

Registered breeder:

A breeder is the best person to purchase a purebred cat. Registered breeders are members of a cat council and have to adhere to the code of ethics set out by the council.

Backyard breeders are breeders who are not registered with a cat council and are not accountable to anybody.

A registered breeder should have researched the lines (the cat’s ancestry), and know what if any possible genetic problems may be in the lines. A backyard breeder isn’t likely to do this.

The vast majority of registered breeders breed because they have a love of the breed, and care very much about any kittens they bring into the world. They are usually happy to provide you with advice even after your kitten is in his new home. Buying from a registered breeder will also enable you to meet the kitten’s parents, and get a general idea of their temperament and personality, which can be useful in predicting what the kitten will grow up to be like.

Animal shelter:

More often than not, animal shelters are overflowing with cats and kittens desperately in need of a new home. Shelters charge a small fee to adopt their cats, but they will be desexed, health checked, vaccinated, wormed and microchipped, which saves a lot of money for the owner. Plus there is the added benefit of knowing you have given a home to a cat in need.

Pet shop:

Pet shops often sell both mixed breed and purebred cats (without papers). We do not recommend purchasing a cat from pet shops unless they are working alongside a rescue organisation. Pet shops will have performed the basic requirements for a kitten such

Pet shops will have fulfilled the basic requirements for a kitten such as vaccinations and microchipping, but it will be up to you to pay for the desexing.

Once you have paid for the kitten, and then the desexing you will likely be more out of pocket than you would have been by choosing a shelter cat or purchased a kitten from a registered breeder. Many breeders desex their kittens before they go to their new home, saving you having to do it. As many breeders receive discounts from veterinarians, this saving can be passed onto you. There are often topics posted about the sale of purebred cats on our forums and the difference in price between buying from a pet shop, and a registered breeder is astounding.

Most people think that a pet shop will be the cheaper option, but this is incorrect. There is also the moral issue of selling pets in shops. This allows for impulse buying.

Free to good home:

You may know a neighbour or friend who’s cat has had a litter of kittens or see an advertisement in your local paper. Generally, it is not the best way to find a kitten. The initial outlay may be free but by the time you have paid for the kitten to have its full course of vaccinations, microchipping and desexing you are often more out of pocket than you would have been if you’d obtained a cat from a shelter. There is also the risk of not knowing the cat’s health status. If the mating was unplanned, do you know the mother and father’s medical history? Have they been screened for diseases such as FIV or FeLV? Both of which are fatal.

Cat or kitten?

Adopting a kitten or cat

Let’s face it, kittens are cute, they are playful, and they are entertaining to watch. It is lovely watching your bundle of fluff grow into an adult. If you are adopting a kitten, please make sure it is old enough.

The ideal age is 10 – 12 weeks, although some purebred breeders hold onto kittens until they are 14 – 16 weeks. A kitten learns so many manners from its mother, and those first 10+ weeks with mum are crucial for the kitten to learn socialisation skills. A kitten’s immune system also takes some time to mature and adopting a very young kitten may result in it being more vulnerable to infections. At 10+ weeks of age, your kitten will still be small and cuddly, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy kittenhood, with the advantage that it has had the best possible start to life with his mum.

Adopting an adult has it’s advantages too. You know what you are getting as their personality is already developed. Adults, in general, are less energetic than kittens, require less training and are less likely to chew on cords etc. They are often overlooked for adoption at shelters, which is a terrible shame as an adult can provide just as much love and companionship as a kitten, so do give some thought to adopting an adult. If you have a young child/toddler, then an older cat may be better than a small kitten.

If you are looking for a purebred but want an adult, you could investigate buying an ex-breeding cat from a breeder. These cats are sold at significantly reduced prices and are still quite young.

Long hair or short hair?

Adopting a kitten or cat

This comes down to personal choice. Longhaired cats require regular grooming to keep their coat matt free. Please prepared to put in the maintenance that comes with a longhaired cat.

Preparing for the new arrival

You will need to purchase some items in preparation for the new family member. These include:

  • Litter tray and cat litter. There is a wide variety of cat litters on the market these days, some better than others. It is best to avoid clumping cat litter with kittens.
  • Scratching post, cats need to scratch and enjoy scratching. Providing your cat with his scratching post will reduce the chances of your cat using your furniture or carpet.
  • Food/water bowls: You can buy cheap plastic ones, but do not recommend them as they can harbour bacteria, leech chemicals and cause feline acne. Metal or ceramic is much more suitable.
  • Cat carrier for those trips to the vet.
  • Toys: Buy a variety for your cat: mice, wands and interactive toys.
  • Bed.
  • Food: A premium quality brand is the best, and select one for the appropriate age of your cat. For example, if you adopt a kitten, then buy kitten food etc.

Should I let my cat outside?

There is much debate over indoor or outdoor cats. It is best to keep your cat indoors, not only for your cat’s safety but also, so it doesn’t impose on the neighbours. We recommend a cat enclosure or train your cat to walk on a leash if you want him to enjoy the outdoors.


Adopting a kitten or cat

Most shelters and many breeders now desex their cats before they go to live with their new family. This saves the owner the time and expense of doing it themselves. Please desex your cat; there are so many homeless cats in shelters we do not want to contribute to more cats. Not only is it morally the right thing to do by not contributing to the overpopulation of cats, but there are also many health benefits to desexing your cat.


Adopting a kitten or cat

Vaccinating your new kitten or cat is essential. Shelters and registered breeders will have ensured your kitten has had at least two vaccinations before it going to its new home. If you have obtained a kitten from another source, then it may not have received his shots. Your veterinarian can advise you on when to vaccinate your cat; even indoor cats need vaccinations.

Kitten vaccination schedule:

  • First vaccination- 8 weeks
  • Second Vaccination-12 weeks
  • Third vaccination-16 weeks

Kitten-proof your home

Adopting a kitten or cat

Before you bring your kitten home, check your home for possible dangers. You can start by reading our article on kitten proofing.

Health insurance

Planning for routine and unexpected medical expenses is essential. Unless you have a disposable income, it is essential that you are prepared for veterinary costs. This can be by obtaining pet health insurance or setting aside a small about of money weekly (say $10.00) into a kitty fund, which is only used for medical expenses.

Finding a vet

Do this before you bring your new kitten home. Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia