Are you thinking about adopting a kitten? Before you do, consider welcoming an older kitty into your home.

Your local shelter has lots of wonderful cats available for adoption, many of which are adult cats with much to offer you and your family.

Why adopt an adult cat?

  • Older cats need homes, too.
  • Mature kitties have much love to give — and they do so with grace, charm, and dignity.
  • What you see is what you get. An adult cat’s physical appearance & temperament are fully developed.
  • Been there, done that! An older cat’s lifetime of experience may equip him to cope well with dogs, children, other cats, etc. The folks at the shelter may be able to provide you with valuable background info on a particular kitty so that you can decide if he is best suited to your lifestyle.
  • Often, adult cats are less intrigued than kittens are with houseplants, toilet paper, etc. Cat proofing may be easier than kitten proofing.
  • Kittens need lots of supervision before you can trust them with free roam of your house. Though supervision is also wise for a newly adopted older kitty, he may learn quicker due to his age.
  • You can always use another friend — And mature kitties have lots to chat about.

Once you’ve selected your new friend (or he’s selected you!), follow these steps to ensure that this match-made-in-heaven goes smoothly:

  • Take Kitty to your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s advice so that Kitty remains a healthy, happy member of your family.
  • Set up a special room for Kitty, complete with litter box, scratching post, window perches, safe toys, food, & water. Confine your new cat to this room for at least one week. Visit him often with toys, treats, catnip, & meals.  Having a comfy place of his own will help Kitty feel more secure in his environment. During this period, he will learn to use his litter box & his scratching post. Also, he will not have the opportunity to misbehave in the rest of your house when you can’t supervise. Take this time to cat proof your house. In addition, you can use this period to gradually introduce Kitty to your other pets.
  • Supervise Kitty when you are home and he’s out of his room. Take this opportunity to teach him your house rules.  If he’s being a good boy, praise him or give him a treat. Don’t hit Kitty if he misbehaves. Instead, distract him with play; sharply say, “No!”; or distract him with a sound.
  • Kitty gradually earns unsupervised freedom when he is routinely using his litter box and his scratching post.  And, you should feel confident in his house manners. Keep “his room” accessible to him so that he always has a safe place to go. Also, he will want to return to his room to use his scratching post & litter box — a wonderful cat habit!
  • Keep your cat’s nails trimmed to minimize any unwanted scratching.  Ask you veterinarian to show you how to do this.
  • Play daily with your cat. Several short play sessions are ideal! This gives him a constructive outlet for his predatory instincts. Use interactive toys so that you can spend quality time with Kitty and teach him not to use his teeth or claws on you.

I hope you too have a wonderful experience adopting an older cat! Contact me at for more information on developing a positive relationship with your new cat.

Speaking from experience, I believe that these kitties can offer gifts of friendship to be treasured for a lifetime. I feel privileged to have been a part of Charlie’s life, my adopted adult cat buddy, to whom I dedicate this article.

Charlie and Ruth. Image Credit: Susana Crofton