Kitten Yoda sat on the knee of one of the Hertfordshire team members enjoying a fuss

Should I get a cat?

Looking to make a cat or kitten a member of the family? It can be a big decision.

From how to care for a cat, to thinking about their breed, personality and whether to get a kitten or an adult cat. We've outlined everything you need to think about beforehand.

Can I care for a cat?

Caring for a cat requires time, money, a great deal of care and providing plenty of human company. You'll also need to ask yourself whether you're ready to take on the responsibility of owning a cat.

Questions to ask yourself before you get a cat

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you get a kitten or a cat.

1.Does everyone in your home want a cat?

If one person has serious doubts, please talk about this with each other first before diving in to cat ownership. Owning a kitten or cat can be hard work and requires a lot of time and effort. If you can’t resolve the issue, right now probably isn’t the best time.

2.Can you commit for up to 20 years?

While it depends on many things, some domestic cats can live for up to 20 years. This is a long term commitment and shouldn't be taken lightly.

3.Will your cat have access to a garden?

Cats love adventure and exploring the outdoors, so being cooped up inside with no access to a garden isn't ideal for some. It can lead to frustration which can impact their behaviour. Although cats can live an indoor-only life, they will need lots of activities to prevent boredom setting in.

4.Do you live in a cat-safe area?

If you have a busy road right by your house you'll need to think about whether this is safe for your cat. If you're still set on getting a cat, be sure to take extra safety measures, like keeping your cat in at night and training them to come in when called.

5. Can you afford a cat?

The average cat can cost anything from £150 to £1,700 upfront. On top of this, you'll also need to consider the cost of:

Vet bills can be really expensive, especially in an emergency. Pet insurance can make sure your cat is covered for the cost of any veterinary treatment they need. The costs of cat ownership add up, so do your sums.

6.Do you have time?

Not only will your kitten or cat need lots of company and care, but ask yourself:

  • will you be around to give them attention?
  • do you have the time to groom your cat regularly? Long-haired breeds require daily grooming to avoid matting.
  • do you have time and patience to work with any behavioural issues that come up?
  • can you dedicate time to play with your cat?
  • will you have time to regularly clean their litter tray, food and water bowls?

Getting a kitten vs a cat

If you enjoy a little chaos and have the time and energy to put into training and helping your kitten grow into a well adjusted adult cat, then say hello to your little friend!

But, if you'll struggle with a little mischief in your life and your time is taken up elsewhere, then a kitten probably isn’t right for you.

It's worth remembering that while kittens are adorable, they reach adult size quite quickly, around six months old. But they'll keep their kitten-like behaviours up until around the age of 18 months to two years. It's after this point that you'll start to see their steady personality. So think hard on whether you really need a kitten or whether you could offer a home to an adult cat instead.

Things to think about before getting a kitten

Personality type

You won’t really know what sort of personality your kitten will develop as an adult cat. But, if you have a busy family, look for a kitten who is:

  • confident
  • friendly
  • well socialised with adults and children

Breed of cat

Whether you're after a moggy or a pedigree, do your research first and decide which cat would best suit your family's lifestyle.

Reasons to get an older cat

Young kittens can’t be left alone for a whole day because they need socialisation and a lot of company. So, for working families, an older cat might be a better choice.

Also, their personalities are already formed and, depending on their age, older cats will be out of the crazy kitten phase.

Tip

If you’re completely new to cat ownership, an adult cat may give you the best introduction.

Things to think about before getting an older cat

With an adult rescue cat, think about what you are looking for.

Do you want an affectionate or aloof cat?

Cats vary in how much they enjoy being stroked, or if they like sitting on a warm lap. So talk to the rescue centre about the sort of cat you think would suit your needs.

Do you want a cat who likes to stay in or go out?

If they are a real outdoorsy cat, but you want a cat to keep you company in the day, this might not be a good match. So talk to the rehoming centre about what you're looking for.

Prey drive of your cat

Most cats will hunt if given the opportunity. Though some may be better at it than others. If hunting is something that bothers you, tell the rescue centre. They may be able to match you with an older cat who isn't as active in the hunting department anymore. It's also worth trying anti-hunting collars as this may disrupt your cat's ability to catch their prey.

Adopting a cat

Whether you choose a cat or a kitten, our expert team, who have assessed them, can give you a much clearer idea of your pet’s personality and the type of home that would suit them best.

Though you may need to wait a little longer than you would if you got a kitten from a breeder, the right cat is worth waiting for.

Adopt a cat

— Page last updated 11/03/2022