Cats are inquisitive creatures by nature and will always be looking for ways to explore the outdoors, so it's crucial to make sure to kitten-proof your home before their arrival. The area you live in is important too, especially if you are planning on letting your kitten become an outdoor cat later in life. Busy roads can be treacherous, so take this into account if you’re thinking of letting your cat venture outdoors.
Do you want a kitten more than you want a clean house? A new kitten can be litter trained relatively quickly but is bound to leave some unwelcome surprises around in the first few weeks. If your cat is a long-hair breed, you'll be finding cat hair cropping up everywhere. A scratching post is also a good idea or you might find your new pet resorting to your furniture or upholstery.
Finally, you need to consider any other pets you have and the effect these will have on your kitten. If you have an adult cat or dog, you'll need to introduce your latest addition to them in small doses and under supervision. Your existing pet might see this usurper as a threat to their territory or a competitor for your affection.
There are pros and cons for each choice. Kittens are adorable, there's no escaping that! However, they are also extremely energetic and require a lot of attention and stimulation. They will generally need to be litter trained and their initial vet visits will be more costly, especially if you choose to have them neutered. Plus there will be other costs to consider including microchipping and parasite treatments.
Cats from a rescue centre are more likely to have been health checked by a vet, vaccinated, microchipped and treated for fleas and worms. Older cats also tend to be more relaxed and independent, although they can need regular play sessions, especially if they are not allowed outdoors. Kittens are more likely to get on with other pets from the start, whilst older cats might struggle with this integration, especially if you have other cats.
Your lifestyle is important too. An older cat is more likely to be happily left in a warm house all day whilst you are at work and can be an excellent choice for households with children. A kitten on the other hand is naturally very curious and will need extra attention, just like a puppy.
Whether you decide to get a rescue cat or a new kitten from a breeder or cattery, there are expenses to take into account. Your new feline companion will need health checks from a vet, and a constant supply of litter and high-quality complete food to maintain its health. Kittens will also benefit from a specific kitten home, a new litter tray without any other pets' scents and a few toys to keep them engaged.
In comparison adult cats from rescue centres shouldn't need worming, neutering, weaning, microchipping or check-ups as soon or as frequently as they get older. However, they may be more susceptible to general health problems.
Rescue centres often charge a flat adoption fee which includes the initial health checks and treatments but the price of purchasing a pedigree cat can be much higher and would be unlikely to include any routine health care.
If you take on a kitten, you’ll have to introduce them to the great outdoors gradually and will probably find them quite nervous at first. Once they find their feet, there will be no stopping them. Unfortunately, cats have absolutely no road sense - so you’ll have to keep them away from roads and be patient with their inquisitive behaviour.
In the first couple of months your kitten will likely need to be litter trained, which takes time and patience. You might also have to brush them to teach them grooming for later life. Regardless of the toys you buy it, your kitten will still likely bite and scratch your belongings, scatter hair and cat food everywhere and perhaps even bring in dead animals.