Even if prospective cat adopters go to animal shelters without a preference for kittens over adult cats, it can be impossible for them to resist the draw of an adorable kitty that needs a home. We get it. There are lots of reasons to love kittens. But don’t jump into kitten adoption blindly, because their difficulty can be as powerful as their cuteness. Click through to weigh the pros and cons of adopting a kitten.

PRO: Kittens Are Cute

cute yellow kitten
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Let’s not beat around the bush: Kittens are one of the cutest things in the world, and we all know it. We wish we had kittens around us all the time. They have big, round, pleading eyes. They make irresistible squeaking sounds when they mew. They have furry little bellies that can reduce the meanest man into a puddle of giggles. Kittendom is only a fraction of a cat’s existence, but if you get to experience how adorable it is, you’ll never forget that part of your life.

CON: Kittens Are Destructive

cat inside a destroyed box
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Your cute kitten will ruin your life. Not all of it, but parts of it. Physical parts. If you own a kitten, it will damage or destroy something that you own and enjoy — and probably more than just one thing. We can almost guarantee that. Just like human babies, kittens are naturally and instinctively driven to explore their world. Unlike human babies, kittens are extremely mobile, and they’re equipped with razor-sharp teeth and claws. You can imagine how that plays out.

PRO: Kittens Are Playful

cute kitty playing
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An adult cat plays with you sometimes, when it feels like it. For the most part, cats prefer to relax and, yes, snuggle with you, but they’re not super active. In fact, it can be frustrating to get a cat to play enough to fulfill its exercise needs. Not so with kittens. You’ll never meet a more motivated playmate. Buy plenty of toys like balls, teasers and feathers dangling on strings. Unless the kitty is napping, is likely to be running around.

CON: Kittens Have Tons Of Energy

Kitten playing with a curtain in the living room
Konrad Wothe

Would you be surprised if we told you that kittens want to play even if you don’t want to, like when you’re sleeping? A kitten’s favorite playtime can easily be 2:30 a.m. You’d better hope you don’t unconsciously wiggle your toe when snoozing, because that’s an invitation to your kitten to sink its claws into your foot.

PRO: Kittens Are Healthy

kid playing with cat
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Like us humans, cats start to develop physical maladies around middle age. That’s life. Barring rare, congenital defects or diseases, kittens are healthy. By adopting a cat at the start of its life, you maximize the amount of time you’ll get to spend with your pet while its in the prime of its healthy and strong youth. For those first few years, you’ll be the one struggling to keep up with your cat and its energy levels, not the other way around. 

CON: You Have To Pay For A Kitten’s Early Medical Upkeep

cute kitty having a checkup
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Kittens may be young and healthy, but that doesn’t mean owners can skip the vet. Newborn kittens need a lot of medical attention to get them ready for the world. Besides checkups, you’ll be on the hook for vaccinations, dewormings and, of course, spay or neuter surgery. All of these things cost money, and they’ll be your responsibility as a kitten owner. Adopting an adult cat, on the other hand, means that this stuff is almost always taken care of already.

PRO: You Get To Watch Your Kitten Grow Up

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Adopting a kitten means you’re a part of your cat’s entire life. You get to watch it mature from a maniac of a kitten into a spunky young cat into a cool and mellow adult. You’ll know about everything your cat has ever been through, because it went through those things with you by its side. And let’s not forget that you can build a collection of adorable photographs that documents your pet’s entire existence.

CON: You Have To Watch Your Kitten Constantly

cat playing with the vase
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Cats are more affectionate than most folks give them credit for, but they are quite solitary and independent. For the most part, you and your adult cat can hang out separately a lot of the time. But during kittenhood, you’d better keep your eyes on that little mischief maker for its own safety. Kittens are naturally gifted at getting into and onto things they’re not supposed to. Keeping them from causing trouble is straight-up exhausting.

PRO: You’ll Have More Years With A Kitten

man carrying his pet cat
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We’ve already touched upon kitten health, and how you’ll have more time with your cat during those years when monitoring and maintaining that health isn’t such a major part of both of your lives. But it’s also worth noting that adopting a kitten maximizes the sheer number of total years you’ll have together. Cats live for too short a time as it is, around 15 years. All owners want to spend as long as possible with their cats before they cross the rainbow bridge.

CON: You’re On The Hook For Training Your Kitten

cat in a kitty litter
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We wish we could tell you that kitten adoption is all about cuddles and bellyrubs, but by now you’ve gotten the picture that in addition to those things, it’s also a lot of hard work. Training a kitten isn’t as intense as training a puppy, but your kitten does need to learn how to behave. Conversely, adopting an adult cat typically means it already knows how to use its litter box, and probably even basic rules like not jumping on countertops and tables.

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