Cat or Kitten?

Updated on October 27, 2010
C.S. asks from Crescent City, CA
19 answers

My husband and I have almost decided that its time to get our daughter a kitten or cat. She is 5 and 1/2 and she has been working very hard taking care of our older Golden Retriever for some time now.
I talked to a Cat Haven about getting a kitten. They only have cats and suggested that maybe getting a cat (that is good with kids, they have one there that is great with them) would be better for the first pet. My daughter seems ok with getting either one...
So, what do you all suggest? Pros/cons of each? Here is what I think so far:

Pro-its already grown up and can go potty and stay outside during the day. (We would like a roaming cat, not to stay inside all the time).
Con-might not be thrilled with our dog. Hoonah is GREAT with other animals and loves cats, but he scares them because, well he is 80+ pounds of dog pouncing at you to play!
Pro-will grow up with the dog around and not know any difference.
Con-“raising” a kitten and having to potty train, spade/neuter, shots, etc…

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the advice (even you Mr. Bird Lover). I doubt highly that my little cat will eat ALL the song birds in the neighborhood, but such is the circle of life.

Anyway, we ended up getting a 4 month old kitten. We adopted a little boy from the Wild Feline Rescue. He is neutered and has all his shots and is house trained. It was a good choice I think. Still young enough to "grow up" with us, but also old enough to be easier to handle. We are very happy with our little black kitty, named Einstein!

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answers from Dallas on

Definitely an older cat...waaaaay less work, less chaos, less attacks on moving body parts, etc.. The people at the adoption agency can usually tell you which cats seem to be good with other animals (dogs) and which ones definitely would not work because they want everyone to be matched well for the best chance at a happy ending. How exciting, I wish my husband would let us get a cat!! =)

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answers from Scranton on

Ok I will give you my kitten horror story. Thankfully this was b4 kids. I got a cute little tiger kitten from a pet shop. She was adorable and so sweet looking, then we took her home. She was good with littler box, but, she was insane! We had to lock her in the bathroom at night b/c she would try to tear our eyes out in our sleep. You could not go anywhere near her when she was eating or you would get attacked. She would just out of no where just attack you. When guests came to visit we had to put her away because she would growl and hiss at them and attack. Then other times she would sit with us andpurr and be all loving. We gave her to a friend who had lots of dogs to keep her inline. Then we got another cute kitten who would not use the litterbox. yuck. That one left pretty quick. Then I found my Buddy. He was a full grown male cat about a year old. I went to the shelter and was looking hesitantly at the kittens. Then i went into the big cat pen and my buddy came right over to me purring and put his paws on my leg and meowed. I was a gonner. I took him home and he was the best cat ever. Awesome w littler box and very friendly and social. We would take him with us to my parents and he and their lab got along awesome. Later after ex andi seperated I moved my 6 month old daughter and the cat andi home to my parents, momhad a male cat also, my buddy and moms cat became best friends and would gang up on the dog( poor chip). But they all got along great. After i had my daughter buddy was great with her also. When she moved to a bed he would sleep with her. Sooo I am gonna say Cat not kitten.
I would not do a roaming cat, could be hit by car and neighbors may get mad. We have cats roaming all over and they are all wild some sick and they poop in places you don't want poop plus some people are mean and do bad things to cats they see roaming around.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

When we adopted pets, we adopted cats (who were between 1 and 2-years-old). Usually the rescue group will know if the cat is good with other pets just like they know if they are good with children. We opted for cats because kittens usually got adopted quickly and we wanted to offer older animals a loving home. If the cat is on the younger side, it should still be pretty adaptable to the dog and the rest of your lifestyle anyway.

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answers from San Francisco on

We adopted an older cat, and have a two dogs. We were told the cat "liked" dogs. Well, she's not afraid of them but she sure doesn't "like" them :-). This works for us though, even though our older lab mix LOVES her. You will need to work with your dog. 80 lbs of lovable retriever sounds like heaven to me ;-) To a cat, not so much. Leash your dog around the cat or kitten and teach him he has to sit, not chase the cat. Have him lie down giving him treats. Helps to give the cat treats too, if they like treats. Our lab who loves the cat now but at first he would try to chase her and would shake while I was working with him. Oh boy, I thought it might not work because his reaction was so extreme and it seemed like he was thinking "dinner?" But I kept him on a leash when they were together and put the dogs out when I couldn't work with him and watch them. Gradually he got better and now he will slowly walk up to her and if she runs or goes away he just turns away. Every once in awhile she lets him nuzzle her (It's the funniest thing). It's a tough call on cat vs kitten. Sometimes you don't know what a kitten will be like when they are older. Older kittens and cats have a harder time finding homes. But there is a lot of fun to be had with a kitten. A lot of Cats are adaptable as far as dogs, but some aren't. I don't think our cat will every "Like" the dogs but things are great the way they are. Have fun with your new family member!

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answers from Dallas on

Often times, these places know whether certain cats have been around dogs. You can specify, that you need a cat that is comfortable around children and dogs. They are sure to have one. I recommend a cat, for ease, and for a great lesson involved. When I was around 6ish, my parents let me get a dog, but it had to be a grown dog. They talked to me about how the older dogs many times don't get homes. They told me how special I would be to the dog, for saving it...etc. It was a wonderful lesson and it always stayed with me!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Pro-a grown cat can get away from said pouncing pouch, a kitten might get stomped on.

Bring the cat home on a 2-3 day trial bases and let the Haven know that only if cat and dog can get along will you keep it.

update - to 8kidsdad, If you're not going to answer the question that was asked and you obviously don't like cats, why do you feel compelled to offer your slanted opinion????

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answers from Dallas on

Go with an adult cat. But, I would check with "Cat Haven" and make sure they realize you want a cat that can go outside. Many places that have cats for adoption have a strict "indoor cat" only rule.



answers from Sacramento on

I agree that cats need homes more so than kittens. We had gotten a cat that was about 2 years old and had a small dog and the two learned to get along.

As far as Kimberly's post about the roaming cat picking up fleas, ticks, etc. don't worry about that - they have flea & tick treatments that you can purchase from the vet =0)



answers from Los Angeles on

If you don't like the song birds or humming birds in your neighborhood, getting a roaming cat is a good idea. They like to hunt and eat birds and can be very good at it. There are many areas where feral cats and roaming cats have caused the extinction of native birds. They are also very good at spreading cat dander in your home and they shed.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from New York on

We have had both over the years - the last cat we had was adopted as an adult from a family that could no longer care for it - the adjustment period was a little difficult, but eventually he made the transition to his new home. As far as "potty training" a kitten goes, in my experience a kitten only has to be shown ONCE where the litter box is, and then his natural instinct takes over. It was never an issue. A few years back we tried to adopt an adolescent cat from a shelter, but were turned down because we had had "indoor-outdoor" cats in the past and that went against their philosophy. We were so disappointed! The cat we have now stays indoors all the time. While kittens are fun and playful, they can also be very destructive while you're trying to train them. My vote would be for an adult cat - there are so many out there who need good homes!( Especially since the shelter you are interested in already has one that's good with kids). Good Luck!



answers from Tulsa on

cat already fixed from a animal shelter. no litter box training, spraying, kittens, and lots of love



answers from Columbus on

A "con" to kitten is that they are way more feisty and more likely to scratch your child (or you, or the dog, etc.).

Another "con" to a kitten is that a kitten may not necessarily grow into a cat that likes kids.... some cats just don't.

IMO, I would go with the older cat that is proven "kid-friendly"; the cat may not warm up to the dog and be super pals with it, but most develop a truce to some extent.



answers from Washington DC on

My vote is 2 pound purries. Go and select two that need a home, that are good with dogs and kids and each other.
If they have a kitten there good, then you can choose it but there are so many cats that are put down weekly. The numbers are staggering.
Plus if you et two they have each other.



answers from San Francisco on

we adopted a full grown cat from friends who were looking to find her a new home because of allergies and the cat's primary caretaker going away to college. It's worked out really well for us - we knew already what the cat's temperament was like (she's a wonderfully mellow, affectionate, and tolerant cat - hung around our backyard patio for almost the whole time we had about a dozen active third-graders running around for our girls' birthday party), knew her habits (give her plenty of empty cardboard boxes to scratch and she won't scratch furniture), she's already used to the litter box, etc.



answers from New York on

I would go with the kitten because of the dog and because your daughter is only 5. Potty training a kitty is usually not that big of a deal but if you choose to have a roaming cat you also are choosing to have a cat that may be exposed to cat AIDS, fleas, ticks and all kinds of out door stuff that a house cat would never get exposed to. As for the shots and spaying or neutering I think you may be able to find some discounts on those services through your animal local shelter. Also our local shelter's takes care of that before you take the animal home with you as well as tagging your critter with one of those trackiing devices.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Talk to the Cat Haven people about getting a cat who really loves dogs. One of our cats absolutely adores big dogs and even helps train our puppies!

In my area, many organizations will not place kittens or puppies (the young ones) in families with children under seven years old. An older cat - at least several months old or older - can handle him/herself around children better, but still be a lot of fun. You'll still have some training to do. Will your new cat be safe outside all day? If this is absolutely necessary to do, provide a shelter from weather, other animals, etc., and a place always to have food and water. And you'll need to keep a closer eye on the kitty's health. Talk to your vet.



answers from Dallas on

Please tell me you live on a farm/ranch and that is why you want a roaming cat. As the recipient of neighborhood roaming cats, I beg you not to allow your cat to roam if you live in a neighborhood. In two different neighborhoods I have lived, I have had cat prints on my newly washed/waxed car and cat poop in the yard. I also had one live under my porch except to go home and eat.

I have had both kittens and a cat. I took the cat back. Even though it was fixed it still sprayed, in fact it sprayed me while sitting in bed. It was also cantankerous, not at all what I wanted. Yes, the extra expenses w/ a kitten is costly, but the potty training isn't too bad. And, it will grow up with the dog around, as you already mentioned. You could get a older kitten that already has it's shots/fixed, but they may not be as available.


answers from Dover on

I would go with the adult cat I think. Growing up we had an awesome cat who was indoor/outdoor. He went out for a few hours every night & then scratched at the sliding glass door to come in when we were all getting ready for bed. He caught most of his food (although we of course had dry food & water always there for him) and almost never even used the litter box in the house. He did get in a fight once & needed surgery, but that was the only big expense we ever had with him. He had a flea coller & that was never an issue, either. As a matter of fact, I currently have an indoor-only cat now & she has fleas that we are having an exceedingly difficult time getting rid of even though she has a collar also.



answers from Charlotte on


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