Cats and kittens make wonderful pets, but they have different needs depending on their age as well as the individual animal so how do you know which would be better suited to you? It's best to look at your home situation and choose a cat or kitten based on their personality and life stage. That said, here's a rough guide of what to expect when you rehome a cat at any age.
Young kitten (12 weeks )
Young kittens are a lot of fun! They are still learning and everything is fun to them, so expect a lot of playtime and a lot of exploring from them. They make great family pets as they enjoy being around people and everything fascinates them, although you'll need to keep an eye on them to prevent any curtains being pulled down!
You'll need a lot time, energy and toys to keep up with these guys so if you're working full time they would probably be a bit of a handful for you unless there is somebody else at home during the day to entertain them. Expect accidents from these guys - they might not fully litter trained yet. They also need feeding 4 times a day and need a lot of supervision, so again they're not the best match if you're out all day. Young kittens are often best rehomed in pairs, so they can play with each other and learn together.
They are usually friendly and not intentionally aggressive, and many families favour them with young children as the kitten and child can grow up together and get used to one another. However it's worth noting that they don't have as much self control as an older kitten and are more likely to scratch to hold their balance if you startle them.
Older kitten (6 months )
As they get older, kittens calm down a little. They are still likely to be mischievous little things, and are just as loving and silly as their younger counterparts, but they are not as easily entertained by everything.
Older kittens still need play time and a variety of toys but you're less likely to find them clinging to the shower curtain or wedged underneath the sofa as they've honed their skills and are a bit more mature than young'uns. They start to show more interest in going outside and learning adult behaviour, so they won't be so clingy to people and are likely to start trying to find their own places to hang out.
They make good family pets as they have more control over their actions but still enjoy playing - this means that they will be happy chasing a stick toy but aren't as likely to bite you when they grab it as they've learnt not to do that. Older kittens are suited to most homes!
Adult cat (2 years )
Adults calm down a lot and don't require the same supervision or constant entertainment as kittens, so they are ideal for people who work more or don't have the energy to keep up with a baby. Although adult cats aren't quite as funny to watch they are still very loving and affectionate and make great pets.
It's worth noting that adult cats will always choose 'flight' over 'fight' whenever they can, so they're not likely to scratch unless they really feel threatened. We often hear that people don't want to adopt an adult cat to live with their child as they don't know what they're getting when they take the cat on - this is actually the opposite of the truth! We can tell you what to expect from an adult cat as they have already settled in their behaviour habits and we observe these before they are adopted, whereas kittens can grow up to be little terrors! Avoid rehoming a nervous or aggressive adult cat around children and you should be fine.
With adult cats, it's much easier to observe their individual personality at the centre, rather than the age as a whole. This makes it easier to pick a cat that will fit in with your lifestyle.
Mature cat (10 years )
In veterinary terms, cats are classed as 'mature' at 7 years old. However, they really slow down at around 10 years old (on average - every cat is different). These are the golden oldies, who are searching for a retirement home.
Older cats have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. They aren't interested in finding new ways to shred your socks or what will happen if they pull the Christmas tree down so you're more likely to get a cat that is content to snooze and sunbathe and not do much else. They are also less likely to roam so you don't have to worry about straying.
With very young children, it's usually best to avoid older cats as they can get a bit grumpy if they're hassled. The OAPs are happiest in a quiet and warm home with a simple routine, so the hustle and bustle of a busy family life can be a bit overwhelming for them. They make great pets for people who work a lot, as they are happy left to their own devices during the day and like a good cuddle at night!
All cats and kittens have the potential to make amazing pets, and always make sure you speak to a member of staff about each one as they all have different personalities and would be perfect in different set-ups.