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Getting a cat and not sure where to begin? Find out more about choosing the right cat for you

Whether you’re a lifelong cat-lover or embracing the idea of a new pet, getting a new cat or kitten is a great experience. At Cats Protection, we believe in matching the right cat to the right home. After all, just like people, all cats are different.

Buying a cat? Why you should adopt from Cats Protection instead

Our centres are full of cats and kittens seeking a permanent home – in fact, every year on average we rehome 34,000 cats. We aim to encourage potential owners to consider adopting from us or other welfare organisations to ensure all cats have the opportunity to be homed.

If you are sure you want to purchase a cat, always ensure you’re buying from a reputable breeder or seller. Kittens in particular should be visited when they are still with their mother and should look healthy, alert and sociable. You can find out more about what you should be looking for in our guide.

Find out more about buying a cat

Pedigree or moggy?

There’s a misconception that pedigrees are better or stronger than moggies. We love our magnificent moggies and want everyone to give them a chance - adopting a pedigree is not a guarantee of good health. Some cats are bred to have extreme features which affect their welfare, such as very flat faces or no fur, or carry genetic mutations such as the Scottish Fold cat who have a cartilage abnormality which causes painful and debilitating joint disease as well as causing their folded ears.

The word pedigree means a cat has parents from the same breed and has proof of ancestry which allow registration with a governing body. Whereas pedigrees have been bred from selected cats, normally for a certain look, moggies have often, through many generations, had more choice to select a mate based on their natural environment and what characteristics will give their kittens the best chance in life.

If you are considering adopting a cat, speak to the rehoming organisation or breeder about their character and individual needs rather than basing your decision solely on appearances. If you’re interested in a particular breed, it’s important to know that a cat’s personality is not just about genetics but also their level of socialisation between the ages of 2-7 weeks. All cats are individuals, even within the same breed. If you do decide to adopt a pedigree cat, we recommend that you take time to learn about the breed, their individual needs and any potential health and welfare problems to ensure you will both enjoy a lasting and happy relationship.

Read more about pedigree cats

Should I get a cat or kitten?


It can be difficult to resist getting a kitten. While they are cute to look at and full of energy, they also demand a lot of time and patience from their owners. There is no indication of what your kitten will be like when they become an adult too, as cats don’t tend to form an established character until they’re at least a year old. If your household is more suited to a more laid-back character, it is best to choose an adult cat.

Download the kitten checklist


Adult cats are usually more settled and less likely to get up to mischief than kittens. Some of them will even be keen to cuddle up on the sofa or lounge around at your feet. By the time a cat is grown, their personality is well established.

You may even be able to find out from their previous owner about their food intake, litter tray habits and character, making it easier for them to settle into their new home.

Mature moggies, or cats that are older than seven years old, are ideal for quieter households. While older cats aren’t always the first choice of potential adopters, they’re well worth considering as a pet. They are likely to be quieter throughout the day, sleep through the night and less likely to wander from home.

Owning an older cat

Should I get a male or female cat?

Both female and male cats make great companions. There is no such thing as a male or female cat being better or easier to look after. Their personality is shaped by their individual genetic background, upbringing, and past experiences in life, so every cat is unique. If they’ve been socialised since they were young kittens, they would feel more confident and happier around people as adult cats.

 The main differences between cat genders are:

  • male cats are usually slightly larger than females
  • female cats can become sexually mature from just four months of age. If they are not neutered, they will have regular heat cycles showing restlessness, excessive rubbing, and becoming more vocal
  • male cats can reach sexual maturity at around seven to nine months. If unneutered, they will actively seek out a mate, displaying behaviour such as fighting with neighbouring cats, urine spraying and wandering away from home

How old is my cat in human years?

You might be surprised to learn that kittens don’t remain kittens for long, and mature moggies aren’t as old as you think.

  • 0-1 cat month = 0-1 human year
  • 2-3 cat months = 2-4 human years
  • 4 cat months = 6-8 human years
  • 6 cat months = 10 human years
  • 7 cat months = 12 human years
  • 12 cat months = 15 human years 
  • 18 cat months = 21 human years
  • 2 cat years = 24 human years
  • 3 cat years = 28 human years
  • 4 cat years = 32 human years
  • 5 cat years = 36 human years
  • 6 cat years = 40 human years
  • 7 cat years = 44 human years 
  • 8 cat years = 48 human years
  • 9 cat years = 52 human years
  • 10 cat years = 56 human years
  • 11 cat years = 60 human years
  • 12 cat years = 64 human years
  • 13 cat years = 68 human years
  • 14 cat years = 72 human years
  • 15 cat years = 76 human years
  • 16 cat years = 80 human years
  • 17 cat years = 84 human years
  • 18 cat years = 88 human years
  • 19 cat years = 92 human years
  • 20 cat years = 96 human years
  • 21 cat years = 100 human years


All cats have differing personalities, in the same way that humans do. Some are content to be handled, making them the perfect pet for children or older people. Others will shy away from attention, only interacting when they choose to. Consider whether you’d like an energetic or playful cat, or whether you’d be more compatible with a cat that spends its time curled up asleep!

When visiting our branches and centres, you’ll get a good idea of what each cat is like from their descriptions, or by talking to some of the volunteers and staff that look after them.

How can I choose a cat that is right for my family?

Do you have children at home, or even other pets? Choosing a cat that will settle into family life is vital.

Can I get a cat if I have children?

Cats and kids can become great companions as they grow and having a pet can be of great benefit to little ones. However, you’ll need to bear in mind a cat’s previous experiences and personality as well as ultimately what you are looking for in a pet.

While children might be enthusiastic about homing a cute kitten, kittens need plenty of care and attention as well as regular supervision. Adult cats can be less frenetic, which suits many families. Teaching children basic cat care as well as how to treat them carefully is a great idea and encourages a sense of responsibility too.

Cats are generally good with babies, choosing to either become friendly with them or stay well out of their way. If you’re expecting a new arrival and you’re worried about choosing a cat, there are plenty of things you can do to help them settle in. Take a look at our guide.


Find out more about adopting a cat with children

Getting a cat if you have other pets

If you have other pets in your home, think carefully about whether they are likely to get on with a new cat. Consider your animal’s age, personality and previous experiences.

Getting another cat

Cats are solitary creatures, meaning they tend to want to live alone and don’t need ‘friends’. Some cats can tolerate other cats when they come into the home – others will find it impossible! Consider your existing cat’s behaviour and how they will react – introducing a kitten into the household might be easier than introducing another adult cat into their territory.

Find out more about introducing cats to other cats

Cats and dogs living together

Don’t believe the age-old stereotype about warring species – some cats and dogs can live together in harmony. Think about your dog’s personality and behaviour towards felines. Have they come across a cat on their walks and reacted negatively? Do they get along with cats in the neighbourhood? As long as they don’t react aggressively towards cats, they should be able to share their home with a little guidance.

Introducing your new cat to your dog is the most important thing you can do, and shouldn’t be rushed. First impressions count, and it is easier to arrange a gradual introduction than repair a damaged relationship between your cat and dog. You can find a step-by-step guide below.

Find out more about introducing your cat to your dog

Indoor or outdoor cat?

Outdoor access provides cats with mental stimulation, exercise and reduces stress. It also gives cats a bigger territory, as well as an exciting mix of smells, sights, tastes and textures to keep them occupied.

But just like people, cats are all individuals. Some cats love going outside, some barely put a paw through the cat flap and others can’t go out at all. While the outdoors has its benefits, it also comes with some risks including possible diseases or injuries. Ideally, unless otherwise indicated, it is best to offer cats the chance to have outside access and let them decide for themselves.

If your cat has to stay indoors due to medical conditions or you do not have access to an outdoor space, it is important to provide them with toys and exercise activities to keep them happy. You will also need to look out for indoor hazards such as poisonous houseplants and toxic household products. Boredom and frustration can become significant problems for indoor-only cats that are not provided with enough enrichment.

Is my home the right place for a cat?

While cats really do make a house a home, you’ll need to think about the right pet for where you live. Cats that love to venture outdoors are ideal for those with gardens, while those with limited space might like to consider an indoor cat or a cat with specialised needs. Blind cats or those with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) need to stay indoors and usually only need specialised diets or medication as well as plenty of love.

Indoor cats can be perfect pets for older people or those in search of a quieter feline companion, without worrying about them wandering from home.

Find out more about indoor cats

Getting a farm cat for a rural home

If you have a farm, stables or a large garden with shelter and are looking for a pet, a farm cat might be suitable for you.

Cats who need rural homes are usually the ones who have had little or no positive human interaction during their socialisation period. They are not necessarily classed as feral but are still very fearful of humans and need a home where they can live outdoors. Farm cats will still need to be provided with food, clean water and have their health monitored.

Find out more about farm cats
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