FIDO: Hey, Fluff, did I see your mom bring home a new cat?
FLUFFY: Hi, Fido! It’s the cutest little kitten. Her name is Star. We’re fostering her until she finds her fur-ever home.
FIDO: Kittens are very cute!
FLUFFY: Yes, and did you know they may also be good for your health? They make people smile and laugh, which may reduce stress and anxiety.
FIDO: I didn’t know that!
FLUFFY: I’ve been learning a lot about kittens. In fact…
FIDO: I know what you’re thinking! I know what you’re thinking! Let’s go find Meryl!
FLUFFY: Very good, Fido, you read my mind. Let’s go!
…And so they did. Here are some fun facts about those adorable kittens we all love to cuddle.
Most litters are 1 to 8 kittens. The biggest litter ever recorded (where all the kittens survived) was from Bluebell, a Persian cat in South Africa.
A group of kittens is called a kindle.
Kittens spend 16 to 18 hours a day sleeping. They start dreaming at about 1 week old.
The mother cat’s milk helps protect her babies from disease. In addition to fat and protein, it contains antibodies that the kittens need to boost their immune systems and prevent infection.
Kittens learn through play, and are most socially interactive at 3-4 months, when they learn behaviors from each other. At about 5 months, they become more solitary. If they’re in the wild, this is when they develop and practice their skills in hunting and stalking. For domestic cats, be sure to provide plenty of stimulation at this age, using toys that allow your kitten to mimic the hunting and stalking skills she’d develop if she were wild.
Just as with humans, kittens are all born with blue eyes. But their noses are a different story. No two kitten noses are the same. They’re like a human fingerprint!
Humans have dominant hands, and kittens have dominant paws. With kittens, though, dominance seems to be gender related. Female kittens tend to be right pawed, while males tend to be left pawed.
Contrary to popular belief, milk and kittens are not always friends. Many kittens are lactose intolerant, so go easy with very small amounts and keep an eye on Fluffy’s tummy until you’re sure she can tolerate the dairy. Even then, small amounts are better than large amounts. Kittens need to get their calories from food, which contains proteins and other essential nutrients that they need to develop normally.
Kittens (and cats) are obligate carnivores. That means they must eat animal protein to live and to thrive. They do not have the ability to make essential amino acids and vitamins in their own bodies. They are not alone in this. Many other animals, including dolphins, sea lions, hawks, eagles and even salmon and trout are members of the obligate carnivore club. Please do not feed your baby a vegetarian diet!
We all know that kittens are adorable, but there’s now some scientific proof that they are also mood elevators. So if you’re feeling down, pet a cat. If there’s not one immediately available, go on over to social media and relax with the cute cat videos that are so easy to find these days. Your mood is almost certain to improve.
BONUS FACT! Kittens are born completely helpless. They are blind and deaf, with ears and eyes tightly closed. They can’t stand up, urinate, defecate, or regulate their body temperature. Their eyes open at 7 to 10 days, but they don’t have full sight until 10 weeks. Their ears are developing at the same time. They usually stand and walk at about 20 days. They need an environment that is at least 81°F, and their mom helps keep them warm with her body for their first 3 weeks.
That is why it’s so important that they remain with their mothers for at least 8 weeks. When they are separated from mama too early, both their social and cognitive development may be affected. Good foster or adoptive parents are desperately needed to help with kittens who lose their moms too young. Please contact us at Santé D’Or if you are interested in fostering a kitten. We’ll give you all the training and supplies you need to get your fosters started with their best paw forward on their way to their fur-ever home.
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.