12 reasons to adopt an adult cat

There are thousands of fantastic adult cats around the country that will be as loving, as fun, and as adorable as any kitten. Don’t get us wrong, we love kittens and they are adorable – and, of course, they need homes too. But, in many cases, adopting a grown-up kitty is a much better idea. Bear in mind that ‘adult’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘senior’; a cat is considered adult from about 1 – 7 or 8 years of age.

Here’s why adopting an adult cat is great:

1.They’re very loving and can bond quickly.

Adult cats bond amazingly quickly – often faster than kittens which may not have learnt how to be sociable yet. We’ve homed hundreds of cats over the years and 99% of them bonded perfectly with their new families, some of them within days, others taking a little longer, including some semi-feral cats. Of course, there are always one or two that just won’t work out, whether because the home isn’t the right match for the cat or the cat just isn’t people-friendly, but the vast majority do just fine if you do things the right way, spend time with them, and are patient and loving.

Important: Cat social skills are learned. If a kitten hasn’t learned how to be social with humans by 8 to 10 weeks, they will find it hard, if not impossible, to bond well with ANYONE (this is when you get feral/semi-feral cats). If you want a kitten so you can teach it to be sociable and to bond with you, be prepared to be home most of the time and put in lots of work. Otherwise, adopt a cat which already has these social skills and knows how to bond with people so that it finds it easy to bond with you.

2.Their personalities are developed so you can choose a perfect match.

There’s a cat for every home. Want a super-affectionate best friend to cuddle all day? An independent house mate who’s happy to chill at home while you’re at work? A dog-friendly moggy? A kitty who loves to play with kids? You can find the perfect match, ready to go! A kitten’s personality isn’t necessarily what they’re like when adult but an adult is consistent.

3.They need less supervision and attention

Kittens need loads of interaction, socialisation, and attention or they won’t be the cat you’re dreaming of. They cannot be left alone for hours on end unless what you want is a destructive, nervous, skittish cat that doesn’t bond with you…
Lack of supervision is also dangerous: never underestimate the mischief a kitten can get into. They can get hurt, stuck in things, stuck on things, stuck under things, eat things they shouldn’t, wriggle out of the house and run off, etc.
You absolutely cannot leave a kitten outside all day – they can be stolen, killed by predators from crows to dogs, run away, etc. This means, you have to leave them indoors. However, if you aren’t there to teach them not to scratch furniture and climb curtains, they’ll grow up thinking this is okay and become one-cat demolition derbies with no manners.

4.They need less frequent feeding.

Kittens need small meals 3 – 6 times per day, depending on age. Kittens of 8 to 12 weeks old need small meals 4 x daily. The younger they are, the more small meals, so, if you adopt a 5- or 6-week-old kitten, you may need to feed them 6 times per day. If you aren’t working at home, this is going to be a problem. Free-feeding* isn’t always the solution as, in some kittens, this can lead to obesity. Adult cats, however, are usually fine with free feeding or 2 meals per day.

*Free feeding: Leaving food out 24-7 for cats to nibble whenever they feel like it.

5.What you see is what you get.

There is no guesswork with adult cats: their size, fur type, eye colour, coat colour and markings, energy levels, etc. are clear to see. Kittens don’t always look how the same when they’re adults. For example, blue eyes can become yellow or green, fluffy coats can turn out to be short, light patterns can go darker, tiny kittens can become huge cats, etc. So, if there’s something specific you’re looking for, you’ll know exactly when you’ve found it by adopting an adult cat.

6.Great for children.

The best choice is a cat of around 1 – 2 years old which has a relaxed, sociable personality. They will usually have more patience and can think on their feet. They’re robust enough not to be as easily hurt, playful enough to still have fun, and, because cats live a long time, still will grow up and have many years as your child’s companion. Kittens are not ideal for young children (approx. under 6 years) for many reasons. Read our article on why kittens aren’t the best choice for families with young children here: Kittens and kids.

7.They’re independent.

Adult cats, especially older ones, are independent and can entertain themselves. This means they’re perfect for busy homes where people are often out, or for people who work outside the home. This doesn’t mean you can ignore your cat; it means you don’t have to feel guilty if you’re at work all day.

8.Cats can be playful at all ages.

One of our volunteers has a 20-year-old cat who still likes to play! So, there is really no age limit on fun and playfulness when it comes to cats. It’s all down to the cat’s personality, so be sure to tell the animal welfare if you want a playful cat.

9.Cats can live a very long time

People often say they don’t want an adult pet as it won’t live long and they’ll be sad when it passes away. But cats easily live long past 10 years, often reaching 15 or 20, and, in some cases, even more (the oldest cat in the world was over 38 years old). So, even if a cat is middle aged when you adopt it, you’ll likely still have it for many years to come. Besides, no one can predict how long an animal will live – you could get a kitten who makes it to one year or an adult who lives until it’s 20 or even 30.

Even if you only have the cat for a short while, you’ll have given it happiness, rather than leaving it in a shelter where it might be euthenised because it was old and no one wanted it.

10.Content to relax with you.

Adult cats, especially older or senior ones, are best for homes with people who want a furry friend to chill with. An adult cat sleeps 15 – 18 hours per day, whereas kittens are pretty much constantly active. Peaceful nights and sleeping late? Forget it. A kitten will be racing around in the middle of the night, demanding constant attention and play time, bouncing around while you’re trying to relax, and be up at the crack of dawn. It also probably won’t be content to watch TV with you all evening, whereas an adult cat will be more than happy to flake out on the couch with you.

11.Kittens aren’t kittens forever.

By 6 months of age, a kitten will look almost like an adult already and, by one year, they’re considered an adult. We try not to home kittens under 8 weeks of age and we find that, once a kitten passes the 10 – 12 week mark, we struggle really hard to home them because they ‘don’t look like kittens anymore’. What we’re getting at is: you really only have that kittenish-looking kitten for a couple of months anyway so why not adopt an adult? Adore kittens? Why not become a kitten foster and save lives while spending time with baby kitties?

12.You’ll save lives.

Every day, hundreds of loving, friendly, wonderful adult cats all over the world are put to sleep for no other reason than that nobody wants them anymore, everyone wants kittens, and space needs to be made for more unwanted cats. You can’t save them all but, by just adopting one, you not only save their lives but you help an animal welfare make space for another cat in need of saving.


There’s a common misconception that all cats in animal welfare are somehow faulty or broken. And while, yes, some cats are there for reasons that make them less homeable (e.g. feral, injured, etc.) most have absolutely nothing wrong with them – they’re surrendered through no fault of their own.

These are the top 20 reasons, in our experience, why cats are surrendered.

  1. Finances. Owner can’t afford them anymore. This may be due to job loss or too many pets in the home, amongst others. This is the main reason cats are surrendered to FAW.
  2. Lost cats. Many loving cats get lost and are never reunited with owners. These make up a large proportion of cats in shelters and it is why microchipping your pet is so important.
  3. Accommodation / Moving. These days, there is less and less pet-friendly accommodation out there, especially in the lower-priced category. Sometimes body corporates change the rules and people have to rehome their pets, or the person is forced to move and can’t find pet-friendly accommodation.
  4. For their own safety. We frequently get cats surrendered for safety. In some areas of SA, people are highly superstitions about cats, thinking that they’re evil or possessed, or bad luck; they may throw boiling water or oil at them, chase them, or try to kill them. It is also common in our areas of operation for individuals to use cats to train their dogs to attack, fight, and kill. Some owners will surrender their cats because they have seen this happen to other cats nearby or have been threatened by neighbours who don’t want a cat near them.
  5. New kitten. The owners get kitten and don’t want the adult cat anymore. We also often get cats that have had a litter of kittens, so the people decide to keep the babies and ditch the mother.
  6. Divorce/separation or other personal problems.
  7. Owner/family illness or disability. People with compromised immune systems are sometimes advised by their doctor to not keep pets due to risk of zoonoses. Disability may make it tough to care for a pet due to mobility issues. Additionally, illness and disability also impact on finances and accommodation.
  8. Death. The owner passes away and there is no one to take their animals. We recommend that everyone has a will in which it is clearly stated what should become of their pets.
  9. Baby. People either don’t want a cat around, or they think the cat won’t like the baby. Nonsense myths like ‘cats steal the breath of a baby’ also play a role. In reality, most cats will stay far away from babies or be happy to snuggle up next to them for warmth.
  10. Pregnancy. Cat litter trays can harbour toxoplasmosis and, as such, pregnant women are advised not to deal with cat litter boxes. However, some doctors will just tell women to get rid of their cat completely.
  11. Children. More often than not, on investigation, the children have been chasing or harassing the cat, which retaliated by scratching.
  12. Emigration. Not everyone can take their pets when they emigrate. Sometimes a cat is highly-strung, too old, or has a health condition (e.g. flat-faced cats don’t do well in planes), which makes it impossible to take them. It costs tens of thousands of Rands to send a pet overseas so it may be beyond the owner’s finances to afford this OR they won’t have a pet-friendly place to live when they get there.
  13. Work. People start working long hours or have to start travelling for work. They can’t keep putting the cat in catteries or getting pet sitters, or leaving the cat alone at home for 10 – 12 hours.
  14. Doesn’t get on with other pets. We often have cats surrendered because it’s being attacked by the owner or neighbour’s dogs, or doesn’t get on with other cats in the house.
  15. Nuisance behaviour. Fighting, roaming, spraying, etc. are all cited as reasons for surrender. These are invariably unsterilised cats. We’ve also had cats surrendered for ‘stealing food’ or ‘digging in the bin’ and it turns out that owners didn’t feed them anything, thinking they’d survive on catching vermin. Once they’re in a home where they get regular food, they stop this behaviour.
  16. Dirt and fleas/ticks. The cat goes outside, rolls in dust and brings this into the house. Or it tracks cat litter across the floor. Or it has fleas or ticks and the owner doesn’t like this and won’t treat these things. We’ve heard it all before.
  17. Too much work. The owner will say ‘I can’t give them enough attention’, which generally translates to: it’s too much work.
  18. Allergy. Doctors will sometimes tell people to get rid of cats because of asthma or allergies; in some cases, they’ve had the cat for many years but the allergy is new.
  19. It’s not a cute baby anymore. They got it as a kitten and then, when it’s 6 to 8 months or older, it’s not so tiny and kittenish, and is a lot more work because it’s going through it’s ‘teenage’ phase, so they get rid of it (and get another kitten).
  20. Illness/injury of the cat. Sometimes an animal is surrendered because there’s ‘something wrong with it’ and the owner can’t afford to or doesn’t want to treat it. This can be anything from fleas and ticks, to injuries, illnesses, and anything in between. A lot of these are treatable.

Think about it: if the worst happened and you fell on hard times, and ended up without a home, would that make you less of a person? Would that somehow change your personality or make you unlovable? Of course not! So, why should being homeless mean a cat is unlovable or isn’t deserving of a chance? It is us as human beings which have created a situation where cats find themselves homeless. It is up to us to be open minded enough to give them a chance.

© Copyright reserved Jennifer Davies 2021

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