Before you bring a cat into your home, there are a few factors any responsible pet owner should consider. Most important, can you afford to provide and care for a cat? On average, expect to spend $450 a year in routine veterinary care, food and toys. Keep in mind you could encounter other expenses such as boarding and grooming, which might tack on an extra $277 per year. In total, expect to spend $450 to $725 per year to care for a cat properly [source: APPMA].
If your finances allow for a feline friend, the next step is to check out any state or city laws to ensure you're compliant. Many cities now require every pet to be licensed, and some states or cities have restrictions on how many pets a household can have, while landlords and homeowner's associations might have additional rules pertaining to pets. Some cities may also have laws on the books regarding free-roaming cats, and cats are generally healthier if they are indoor pets, so make sure you will be able to house your cat properly [source: HSUS].
Now that the rudimentary factors are out of the way, what kind of cat should you get? Unless you're an experienced cat fancier who wants to show cats, adoption is usually the best way to go. If you really have your heart set on a pure breed, check out Petfinder.com or call local rescues in your area before visiting a breeder. You might be able to find a pure breed in need of a good home.
While kittens are more receptive to socialization and adapting to new environments, they do require more attention and a bigger time commitment. If you have small children in your household, kittens don't generally make for a winning combination. An adult cat might be a more appropriate companion, as it can withstand more handling than a kitten. Adult cats could have more problems depending on their history, but they may also have less separation anxiety and be better accustomed to changes in their environment.
If you're concerned about the disposition of an adopted cat, keep in mind that when you adopt from a reputable shelter, your new cat will have been screened, tested and socialized to ensure you are adopting a cat that will fit into your life well. Most shelters have a return policy, too, in case it just doesn't work out or your situation changes.