First of all, congratulations on your potential adoption!
We (my husband and I) just adopted our two kittens (now 7 months old) 3 months ago exactly. We cannot imagine our lives without them!
It really says a lot that you are here, and I can tell that you want to give your cat the best life possible, which is terrific.
One thing I'd like to add is make sure you check into the pet policies at potential apartments or wherever you'll be living, because it can be expensive. Our apartment complex charges $500 for a deposit, and $25 per cat per month for rent. We live in an expensive area, but I'm pretty sure New Jersey is an expensive area as well. Just check into it first. Also, make sure you have plenty of pet-friendly places to choose from when you do move.
Here are my answers:
1. How many of you have been scratched by your cats? Is it a common thing for cats to scratch their owners?
We have not had one single problem with our kittens scratching or biting us or anyone else. They are both extremely well behaved. I have
been scratched, but it's all been accidental (excited cat trying to leap out of my arms, etc.) I honestly believe it's all in how the cats were raised. Ours were hand raised (they were found in a dumpster the day they were born so they never knew their mother) by very responsible cat-savvy people, and I think their foster mom really made sure to teach them good manners. If you get a cat from a good rescue group or shelter, they should be able to give you a lot of insight into the cat's personality.
2. Where do you guys put your litter boxes?
We only have one litter box at the moment. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so our only option is the area that I guess would be called the "dressing area" - we have one of those apts where the shower and toilet are in a room and the sink is in a different area. It's on carpet, so I got a big desktop plastic mat from Ikea to put under it that has been working wonders.
3. How often do you wash the cat? Or is there even a need to give it a bath?
We never wash them. They wash themselves!
And each other! But seriously, I really think the only reason you'd need to wash a cat is if it got into something, which is unlikely to happen if it is an indoor cat. Or if it had fleas or some other skin condition, which we haven't had to deal with yet.
4. If I get a cat now and then move in a few months, will that be a problem for the cat? Or do they adapt rather easily?
I don't have direct experience with this. Other people would probably be able to give you a better idea. To my knowledge, some cats adapt easily, others don't. It's a personality thing.
5. Once the cat gets to know me and we bond, will it be a problem if I'm not at home for 10+ hours at a time?
I don't have direct experience with this, either.
We got 2 kittens instead of just one partially because we knew we'd be gone a lot during the day, and we wanted them to have companionship. That's not necessary, though. A lot of cats are actually much happier being an "only cat." I think this is another personality thing, too!!
6. Do the cats jump into your food and try to eat your food?
Our cats are VERY curious about anything we get out of the kitchen (probably because they assume it's ALL for them). We've had a couple issues where they get right up in our laps and sniff when we're eating on the couch or something, but they are usually really good about it. They might sit by and watch, but that's about it. Spencer actually refuses to eat ANY human food (even pieces of chicken breast or tuna - weird, I know), so even though he acts curious, I know he'll never try to eat anything. Lily can be whiny, but she's pretty polite.
OH! But they WILL drink out of our glasses or cups if the water level is high enough! They especially go after milk. We NEVER let our cats have cow milk - it makes cats sick. They actually sell cat milk (not actually milk from cats, just lactose free with taurine) at Petco, so we give them that as a treat occasionally.
7. How often do you trim your cat's nails and is it difficult?
Not as often as we should, because yes, it is. It does depend on the personality of the cat. I'm glad you realize that it's important to trim them, because it definitely is! We try to trim them when we see that their nails are getting long (it's very visible on Lily because she's black and likes to splay her toes out a lot) or when their claws start snagging in things, or when they accidentally scratch us! I guess it probably should never even get to that point. Lily is VEEERRRRRYYYY WHINY when we trim hers - she struggles and cries after about the first 4 nails. Spencer just struggles. It's a two person job with us. But some cats are easier, I've heard, and if that doesn't work, you can get them trimmed for $10 some places!
8. Is it better to get a kitten or cat if you're a first time cat owner?
Well. It depends. We are sort of first time cat owners - as in these are the first cats WE have owned, not our parents, and we got kittens. They were 4 months old when we brought them home. They are VERY ACTIVE, very curious, into everything. Some kittens are destructive - ours aren't, thankfully. They also eat A LOT - twice as much as an adult cat. (I was surprised by this, personally!) With an adult, you already know the personality better (just ask the rescue worker!), they are less active and demanding, and they eat less. Adults also have a harder time finding homes than kittens. The rescue group we got our kittens from has a lot of mothers (since they tend to rescue litters of kittens with the mother). The mothers are only a year or 2 old, if that, but they take MUCH longer to get adopted than their babies, and they're not even old at all! Next time, we're going to get an adult. Not that we regret getting our little balls of energy for one minute!