Cats and Kids
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5 Reasons Adopting a Kitten Isn’t Always the Best Idea for a Family

"They're cute!" and "My child needs a playmate!" are not the right reasons to adopt a kitten.

Angie Bailey  |  Mar 19th 2015


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Who doesn’t love kittens? They’re adorable — there’s no denying that. Does that mean everyone’s a great candidate for adopting one? Absolutely not. I’m not anti-kitten, that’s for sure; however, pet adoption is a serious decision, and one size does not fit all.

Kids naturally gravitate toward little kitties, and when a family’s considering cat adoption, children will likely beg for a kitten. Sometimes adults cave because they’re also taken by the tiny feet and squeaky mews, plus they don’t want to disappoint the child. If those are the sole reasons for choosing to adopt a kitten, stop right there, because you’re setting yourself up for a possible disservice to both cat and humans.

If one or more of these five reasons is your only thought when considering kitten adoption, you must stop and reconsider.

1. They’re cute

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Undeniably cute. Photo: Shutterstock

Certainly the cute factor will play into many adoptions, but considerations need to expand past the squee-worthy qualities of the kitty. Just because a kitten is cute doesn’t make him an automatic match for a family. I’ve met a lot of cute kitties who would have been terrible additions to my family’s lifestyle and dynamics.

2. All kids can responsibly handle a kitten

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Teach, teach, teach. Photo: Shutterstock

Untrue! It’s also unfair to assume all children can’t responsibly handle a kitten; it’s not a black-and-white situation (unless the cat is a tuxie — ha ha). Adults know their child’s demeanor and level of responsibility, and should take those into consideration when considering kitten adoption. Kittens are small and vulnerable, and rough handling can result in physical and emotional harm. Additionally, the child could be on the business end of sharp teeth and claws. Generally, children with gentle demeanors are better matches for kittens, but that doesn’t mean others can’t learn how to “be” around baby cats. National Geographic’s How to Speak Cat is an excellent resource for families who are considering adoption.

3. They’ll be easy to care for

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Kittens require lots of attention. Photo: Shutterstock

Not so much. Sure, they’re little, but they’re busy and require more attention than most adult cats. If your family is gone most of the day, perhaps your busy lifestyle isn’t a good match for a kitten. If you do decide to adopt a little one, think about adopting two. Kittens are busy and become easily bored, resulting in toddler-like behavior. Two kittens are playmates, keep each other entertained, and become lifetime friends.

4. They’ll keep my child occupied

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Hire a babysitter — a human one. Photo: Shutterstock

A kitten is not a babysitter. Leaving a small cat and child unattended can be a recipe for disaster. I knew a family who sent their three-year-old son into another room to play with the kitten, and the boy emerged a few minutes later in tears. The child wasn’t properly taught how to handle or speak to a cat, and kitty ran scared straight into a closet. Children who are not informed should never be left alone with a cat of any age, especially a kitten.

5. Older cats aren’t as much fun

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Don’t discount the often overlooked adult cat. Photo: Shutterstock

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Adult cats are sometimes overlooked in favor of kittens. There are major benefits to adopting adult cats:

  • They’ve outgrown the crazy-kitten stage.
  • They’re larger in size, which means less risk of harming the cat when handling.
  • They’ve already developed personalities, likes, and dislikes. Most shelters offer information cards on each adoptable cat. These cards provide vital information, especially when bringing a cat into a home with children and other pets. There are adoptable adult cats who like children and have had experience living with them. It’s still critical to make sure your children know how to live with a cat.

Has your family adopted a kitten? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.  

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