Should I Adopt or Buy a Cat/Kitten? Pros & Cons!

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Should you adopt or buy a cat/kitten? For potential cat owners who want a specific cat breed due to its appearance or certain characteristics and can afford the time and expenses, buying a cat makes more sense. However, for most people, adopting a cat or kitten would be the best choice as it would not only be cost-effective, but cat owners would receive a healthy, well-natured cat, in addition to possibly even saving a life!

Cats in a shelter home waiting to be adopted into a forever home.
Unfortunately, many shelters and rescue centers in the United States face concerns with overcrowdedness. There’s not enough room or enough staff to support shelter operations.

“Curiosity killed the cat” is an adage that has been around for years. But it wasn’t curiosity that has put hundreds of thousands of cats in rescue shelters and homes. Misinformation and unrealistic expectations have.

Are you looking to get a cat or a kitten as a companion? Are you confused about whether to adopt or buy? Should you choose a kitten or an adult cat?

In this guide, I cover:

  • Benefits and challenges of adopting a kitten or adult cat
  • Benefits and challenges of buying a kitten or adult cat from a breeder
  • And more…

Adopt or Buy a Cat/Kitten: Summary Table

While there are no right or wrong answers here, several factors can influence your decision. Whatever decision you make, both experiences can be extremely rewarding. With proper care and lots of love, a cat or a kitten can quickly become a well-adjusted part of your household, whether it is adopted or from a breeder’s.

Here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of adopting versus buying a cat/kitten:

Buying a Cat/KittenAdopting a Cat/Kitten
Expensive ($300-$1000 + Initial Vet Fees/Sterilization)Cost-Effective ($50-$200)
Long wait times depending on the breedPotentially saving a cat’s life
Prospective owners can get the exact breed/specifics that they wantA little bit less predictable in terms of behaviors & traits
Health/temperament guaranteeIt could take some time adjusting or changing habits
Table 1. Buying VS Adopting a Cat/Kitten.

Adopting a Cat/Kitten: Pros

Adopting a cat has many benefits, and it’s what most people are going to opt for due to its ease. In a 2021 Reddit survey, most cat owners mentioned that they adopted their cats. Below are some of the main benefits of adopting a cat:

Potentially Saving a Cat’s Life

When you adopt, you will have immense fulfillment about potentially giving your special cat a second chance at life. According to the ASPCA, 3.2 million cats enter shelters each year in the United States alone. Of these, 27% are euthanized every year, which means almost 860,000 cats are killed because no one wants them.

More Variety of Cats to Choose From

There is a wide variety of cats for you to choose from in shelters. You can meet hundreds of cats of different breeds, ages, sizes, coat colors, eye colors, and temperaments. In contrast, you may not find so much variety at the breeder’s, mainly if they only deal in one type of breed. Also, in a shelter, you might have the option of checking out several cat breeds under one roof.

Cats in a cage in a rescue center.
In a rescue center or shelter, there are cats of all different ages, breeds, and special needs.

Sometimes, even uncommon cat breeds like adult Persian cats are available at shelters. Finding a Persian kitten would be difficult, but adult cats of rare breeds are relatively common. Even the high-maintenance Bengal cat can sometimes be found in shelters!

Volunteers and Staff Know the Cats & Their History

The knowledgeable staff at the rescue home can help you pick a cat based on your needs. For example, if you only want indoor cats or cat breeds suitable for an apartment, they can help you find one.

A fully-grown cat usually has an established temperament. So you have a high chance of finding a cat with the desirable traits, personality, and requirements that also suit your needs.

Do check out: Cat Breeds That Do Not Scratch Furniture – The Complete Truth!

Adopting is More Cost-Effective + Often Includes Other Perks

Adopting a cat is also always cheaper than buying a pedigree cat from a reputed breeder. According to the Animal Humane Society, the standard adoption fees range from $34-$276.

Veterinarian checking adult cat before it gets adopted.
Cats available to be adopted have a clean bill of health, and the only cost to you is the adoption fee!

A well-rounded cat will help you save money on solving behavior problems and other initial veterinarian bills! Shelters deworm and neuter or spay their adult cats. So you won’t be spending money on sterilization, deworming, and early immunizations.

Moreover, depending on where you adopt your cat or kitten, they might even include free perks such as food, supplies, insurance, or even a follow-up examination by a local veterinarian.

An Older, Rescued Cat Is Usually Less Demanding and Lower Maintenance

Adult or senior rescued cats are usually quiet, low-energy, and not overly demanding, unlike kittens who are bundles of energy. They are also more likely to be independent. If you work all day out of home, an adult rescued cat may be more comfortable staying alone, whereas a kitten could demand more attention and more stringent monitoring.

Mature cat in a cage in a rescue shelter.
Kittens and adult cats have vastly different energy levels and needs. Read: Are Cats A Lot of Work? Kittens to Senior Cats!

Additionally, since older cats are much more mellow, they don’t require as much behavior correcting as a younger cat or kitten. Thus, potential owners can avoid unwanted/negative habits such as biting or scratching.

Challenges in Adopting a Cat/Kitten

  • It may take some time to adjust to their new home and surroundings. An adult rescued cat could take some time settling down in your home. You might never know its past history or what it has been through. So, this could be a bit challenging in the beginning.
  • Changing its habits could be tricky. Adult cats already have fixed behavior and temperament. Training or desensitizing an older cat could be more challenging than a kitten. Kittens start with a blank slate and are ready to absorb all that you teach them. They will also be more willing to socialize and may be open to new experiences. Therefore, have a list of questions prepared for staff or volunteers at the shelter to help you with your decision!
  • Finding and adopting one specific breed can take time. Although it’s possible to find uncommon or even rare breeds at the adoption center, if you’re set on a specific look, it can take some time to find. Shelters can have all types of different cats , usually, these more rare breeds are often quickly adopted. So when choosing to adopt, it’s best to be open and flexible to all types of cats.

Also Read: Is it OK to Only Adopt One Cat or Kitten? Important Information!

Buying a Kitten/Cat From a Breeder: Pros

Some potential cat owners know what they want regarding appearance, personality, type of cat (indoor/outdoor), breed, etc. Also, they get immense satisfaction in watching their kitten grow in front of them. Buying a pedigree cat from a reputed breeder also has many perks. Here are some pros of purchasing a kitten.

There are 45 pedigreed cat breeds!
The United States-based Cat Fancier’s Association recognizes 45 pedigreed breeds!

Begin With a Clean Slate

With a young cat or kitten from a breeder, you can train it to match your lifestyle or environment. At the kitten stage, cats can be socialized to easily adapt to different home environments like studio apartments. Kittens can learn to live exclusively indoors, be leashed trained, swim, or even with other species (dogs, birds, or even smaller animals).

Young cats will absorb everything you teach them – just like a sponge. You will get the immense satisfaction of seeing your cat grow into a beautiful, loving companion before your eyes.

A Cat/Kitten Based on Your Specific Tastes (Appearance-wise)

If you have your heart set on a particular breed, coat/eye colors, etc., or want a cat with minimal grooming needs, sheds little, or any other specific requirement – buying is a better choice. Research your breed, talk to fellow cat owners and seek one out from a top breeder.

You Get a Health/Temperament Guarantee

When you choose your pet from a reputed breeder, chances are they screen their cats before mating them, and this ensures fewer genetic health issues in the resulting litter. Many breeders also conduct health checks and give money-back guarantees or offer to take back the kitten should any health issue arise. You can also meet the parents of your potential pet and ensure they have no behavioral or temperament problems.

Purchasing a pedigreed cat or a specific breed requires careful research on the cat and the breeder.
Some cat breeds can be predisposed to certain genetic illnesses and diseases. Therefore, receiving a cat from a proper breeder can help eliminate or lower the chances of these occurrences.

Challenges of Buying a Cat From a Breeder

  • They could be overly depedent and needy. A kitten, in its early stages, is more likely to be clingy. You will also have to spend a lot of time and energy on its training. While this can be satisfying, you also need to set aside time for it. How much work is needed to have a kitten? Here’s what to expect.
  • Greater expense. Breeders charge more than adoption centers and rescue organization fees. Many breeders charge thousands of dollars for cats with superior lineages and bloodlines whereas adoption fees, even for purebred cats, are typically just between $300-$500. You will also spend on initial vaccinations, deworming, and spaying/neutering which rescue homes cover in most cases.
  • Long wait times. Some breeders have huge waitlists for pedigree cats especially those from a champion or show-winning cats. You might have to wait for months, sometimes even a year to bring your potential pet home.

Conclusion: Should I Adopt or Buy a Cat/Kitten?

As you can see, there are pros and cons in either case, whether you choose to adopt or shop a cat or kitten. In any case, do your research well. Find out all that entails in cat ownership. Then research the breeders or visit multiple shelters. Meet several cat breeders and their kittens and cats.

If needed, volunteer at a shelter. This will help you make an informed choice and become a responsible and caring cat parent. Additionally, it will also ensure that your cat or kitten will live a life that’s fulfilling and free from negative experiences.

Once you have adopted your cat, read: I Adopted a Cat/Kitten, Now What?


With a science background and years of experience including learning, observing, and training cats - increasing our beloved feline's welfare and wellbeing is the priority and passion.

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