by Rita Reimers, Multi Cat Behavior Expert
Part 2 – Adopting Older Kittens and Young Adult Cats
In this 4-part series, Rita discusses the various ages of cats and how to choose the right one for you!
So you’ve read Part 1 – Adopting Young Kittens, and perhaps you’ve decided that they seem to be into everything. (They are!) You might feel that’s a bit overwhelming or that you don’t have the kind of time those wee ones need.
If so, then adopting older kittens or young adult cats might be the purrfect choice for you and your family.
Adolescent cats are a little bit kitten, a little bit adult, so you get some of those cute kitten antics tempered by a bit of maturity. They are already calming down and have less of that hyperactivity of those very young kittens.
With adolescents, however, comes sexual maturity. It is very important that you adopt a cat who is spayed/neutered, or get that done as soon as possible after adoption. Not only does this prevent accidental litters, it also benefits your cat medically and also calms them down as the urge to roam and reproduce subsides.
As with younger kittens, older kittens and adolescent cats have those same distinct personality types. Spend some time playing with and petting the cats you are considering for adoption, so you can tell if his activity level will fit in with your lifestyle.
High Intensity Adolescent Cats
The young cat that plays readily and hard will tend to be a more extroverted high energy kitty, and he will likely retain this fearlessness into adulthood. Should the cat seem more interested in playing with another cat or with toys than he does interacting with you, he may become less of a cuddle kitty and one that prefers to play with other cats. This may be a good choice for you if you spend a lot of time away from home and he will be alone for long periods of time.
If he is very high energy, then adopting an older kitty buddy will keep him entertained and out of trouble while you are at work. When you are at home, play with him to help him burn off his pent up energy, and pet him as much as he will allow. This will help to build the bond between you.
One of my cats, Smokey, came to me when he was just a year old. He was a very rough player, and some of my other cats didn’t like him at first because he was too rough. I worked with him so eventually he learned to calm down and not be so aggressive with his play.
Smokey has become loving toward me over time, but he does still prefer to rough house with the other cats, especially the younger ones. Although he is not a cuddly lap cat, he is a very sweet kitty who loves to be brushed and hugged. I have never regretted adopting older kittens who are often overlooked in favor of those younger ones.
Low Intensity Adolescent Cats
On the other hand, an adolescent cat who happily sits on your lap for petting and also enjoys some playtime while you are getting acquainted might become a happy snuggle kitty when you get him home. If he shows as much appreciate for accepting love from you as he does playing with his cat friends, then he would be at home whether or not he has kitty playmates. That is, providing he gets enough attention and interaction from you once you take him home.
His lower energy and intensity will make for a confident and easy-going adult cat as he grows. If you have kids or other pets in your household, these laid-back cats are the perfect addition. One of my cat sitting clients had a baby, and she was concerned that her 2-year-old cat would become jealous. Because her cat was one of those sweet low-energy cats, he not only accepted the baby but has become her snuggle buddy at naptime.
Shy Adolescent Cats
A young cat that hides or appears to be terrified and shakes when you pick him up is probably a shy cat. It could be he has not had a lot of human interaction and may become frightened by the new experience. He could be the last one left in a litter of siblings who had all been adopted, and has grown up in the rescue or shelter. If he isn’t struggling to get away when you hold him yet is obviously scared, there is a good chance that he will warm up to you once he gets used to his new surroundings in your home. It will take some extra effort to help your cat overcome his shyness, but these shy cats often become very devoted companions to their humans.
I adopted my older kitten, Oliver, when he was about 8 months old. He had been crying at the adoption center, and would shake whenever anyone approached his cage; anyone except me that is. He clung to me for dear life and buried his face in my neck when I picked him up, so naturally I decided to take him home. Upon getting Oliver home, he went into hiding behind my stove and would not come out. (He got his name because I kept calling out “Ollie Ollie oxen free!” like we did as kids playing Hide and Seek!) One of my other cats finally prodded him to come out and explore. It took about a week before he became comfortable in his new surroundings. Oliver is now a very affectionate lap cat, and he also enjoys romping a bit with the other cats. While he does not like to be picked up, he often jumps on my chest to watch television with me. Well, I watch the television, he takes a nap!
No matter which temperament your new adolescent cat has, it is important to remember that he is still a young and energetic cat.
He will need interaction and playtime with you, as well as toys he can play with by himself if he doesn’t have a cat buddy. Establishing a routine with your new help you bond with your cat.
Play with him, give him love and praise, toys and cat trees to climb, and he will reward you with many years of purrs and devotion. If Adopting older kittens is still too intense, Middle Aged Cats might be purrfect for you.
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