The Pet Parent's Guide to Adopting an Adult Cat

These cats are aged to perfection.

adopting adult cat

No doubt about it, a kitten can be the purr-fect new addition to your feline fur fam. But if you limit yourself to just kittens, you might miss out on a fantastic adult cat who needs a home. Adult cats have a lot to offer, and there are even some advantages to adopting them over holding out for a teeny tiny kitten. 

Before you make a trip to your local animal shelter, think carefully about whether an adult cat might be the right addition to your home. 

At what age is a cat considered “adult”? 

Many kittens stop growing once they are 12 months old, but some will still continue to grow slowly until they’re 18 months. Larger breeds like Maine Coons may continue growing until they’re about two years old, but generally speaking, kittens are considered to be adult cats around one year of age. 

Cats reach their senior years at different times, too. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners Senior Care Guidelines, cats are considered to be middle-aged from 7 to 10 years old. Once cats are 11 to 14 years old, they are considered senior cats, and cats over 15 are considered geriatric. 

Why you should consider adopting an adult cat vs. a kitten 

There are many advantages to adopting an adult cat compared to adopting a kitten. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider welcoming an adult cat into your heart: 

  • Less of a time commitment. Kittens can be a lot of work and require socialization, which can take a lot of your time. Young kittens also often do better in a new home when they’re adopted in pairs, which makes for increased care and expenses. If you’re looking for a cat that doesn’t require the more intense care and attention that kittens need, an adult cat might be the perfect choice.
  • Adult temperament. Adult cats aren’t as active as kittens, and they’ve already entered the more laid-back phase of their lives. That said, most adult cats are still all about daily playtime sessions, but they’re often also content to cuddle up with you on the couch and settle into your routine (zoomies notwithstanding). 
  • Better choice for young children. If you have small children in the home, a kitten may not be the best choice, since kids can accidentally hurt or be too rough with a kitten. An adult cat who will tolerate kind petting but get up and leave the room when the kids become too much may be ideal. 
  • Good litter box habits. There’s no need to worry about litter box training most adult cats, so expect few, if any, accidents in the house. 
  • Fewer vet appointments. Kittens require more frequent trips to the vet for the kitten vaccine series, and you’ll also need to consider neuter or spay appointments if those procedures weren’t done before you adopted a kitten. With an adult cat, you’ll spend less time at the vet and save on vet bills, too. 
  • More affordable. Adoption centers often offer reduced adoption fees on adult cats, and many lower the fees even more for senior cats. Kittens, on the other hand, are in high demand, so they’re often more expensive to adopt (not to mention take care of).
  • More choices. Kittens tend to get adopted quickly, but you can almost always find plenty of older adoptable cats at shelters. You will have plenty of cats to choose from and can take the time to find the cat who’s the perfect fit for your home. 
Adult black cats are the least likely to get adopted, with a 10% adoption rate. Who could say no to that face?

The challenges of adopting an adult cat

While there are plenty of perks to adopting an adult cat, you might also run into some challenges. 

Some adult cats, particularly those who lived in their previous home for years, may have a harder time adjusting to a new home than young kittens do. Patience is key to gaining the trust of these older cats, and it’s important to leave the cat alone and let them start to seek you out on their own time. Chances are that within a few days, you’ll start to see more of your new furry companion, and within a week or two, they will feel right at home.

In some cases, it might take adult cats months or even a full year for your cat to fully warm up to their human family. 

Adult cat medical care

Older cats may also experience some health issues like arthritis, hyperthyroidism, dental disease, and diabetes. It’s a good idea to ask any animal shelter about the results of any vet evaluations their cats have received. A shelter should be willing to share the cat’s health information with potential adopters, so you’re aware of any significant health issues. 

If you plan to adopt an adult cat, you might want to get them hooked up with pet insurance. A base Lemonade pet insurance policy can help cover the veterinary costs associated with unexpected accidents & illnesses. In addition, you can add the Lemonade Preventative or Preventative+ package which can help cover the costs of vaccines, tests, dental cleaning, and even your cat’s annual wellness exam. 

Keep in mind that treatments for medical conditions your kitty showed signs of or was treated for before you applied for a policy would not be covered by a pet insurance policy, since they would be considered pre-existing conditions


What questions should I ask my vet when adopting an adult cat?

Once you’ve adopted an adult cat, it’s a great idea to schedule an appointment with your vet to have the cat examined. During that appointment, you can ask these questions so that you’re well-prepared to meet your cat’s care needs: 

  • What type of diet should my cat be eating? How can I keep my cat at a healthy weight?
  • Does my cat have any health conditions, and if so, how can I help manage them? 
  • Is my cat up-to-date on vaccines, and are there any additional vaccines that you recommend they receive? 
  • What type of flea and heartworm treatment should I use for my cat? 
  • Are there any tests, like bloodwork, that you would recommend for my cat? 
  • What condition are my cat’s teeth in, and will they need any dental work in the near future? 

If your cat’s age isn’t documented, your vet can examine your cat to estimate their age. Your vet will look at the wear on your cat’s teeth, and will also look for other signs of age like cloudiness around the eyes to give an approximate age estimation. 

Before we go…

By adopting an adult cat, you’re giving a feline a new lease on all of their nine lives. 

Being able to give a new furry friend a loving home is a rewarding experience, and one that can change your family for the snugglier. If you’re considering cat adoption, don’t write off those adult cats just yet. When you consider all of the benefits of adopting an adult kitty, you might find that it’s the right decision for your family. 

Paige Cerulli

Paige Cerulli is a lifelong animal lover and a certified equine massage therapist. She works as a copywriter and content writer, and her work has appeared on American Veterinarian, Northeast Equestrian Life Magazine, Business Insider, and more. Paige lives in Western Massachusetts where she shares her life with three cats, three horses, a flock of ducks, and several foster animals.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.