When you meet kittens face to face, your heart suddenly melts and the giddy child in you can’t help but give an appropriate, “AWWW!” You want to handle, play, and snuggle with them until the cows come home. Some of us have had the opportunity to witness the birth and development of kittens from their first cry, to when they first open their eyes, and on into adulthood. If you haven’t had that chance, there are likely some fun facts about kittens that you don’t know about and that can help you raise a healthy and happy kitty.
1) Kittens are fragile and need help using the potty
Most of us know about the fact that kittens are delicate, and we need to instruct children to handle them gently and appropriately. But, did you know that kittens need help from their mother to use the bathroom? Their mother will gently lick their nether regions to stimulate the kitten to urinate or defecate. This assistance is critical to a kitty’s life! When kittens are orphaned, the human caregiver can perform the same stimulation with a moist cotton ball, thank goodness.
2) Kittens are like sponges
No, you can’t clean with them, but when we say kittens are like sponges, we mean that they are impressionable and soak up knowledge about their world like a sponge from birth to about 12 weeks old. During this time, they learn how to act like a cat from their mother from grooming, to eating, to using the litter box. They become socialized and learn how to play and fight with their brothers and sisters. In order for kittens to bond with humans, it is important that they are handled and played with frequently during this short learning period.
3) Kittens are born with closed eyes
Another cool fact about kittens is that they are born into this world completely blind. They will rely on instinct and the mother’s help to feed on her milk. In about 7-10 days, the kitten will open its eyes for the first time, but its vision will remain poor until about 5 weeks old.
4) Kittens are born with blue eyes
Many human babies are born with blue eyes, but the color of the iris develops over their first year or two, and they are likely to change eye color as they get older. One of the most fun facts about kittens is that they are also born with blue-gray eyes. Some breeds, like Siamese, will retain their blue color, while most will change pigment during the first year of life. After one year, they should have grown into their permanent eye color.
5) They have superior senses
Here’s a fact about kittens that might make you jealous. Kittens possess a superhuman sense of smell. By 4 weeks old, their sense of smell is fully developed, aided by an extra smell organ called the vomeronasal organ. This helps them find mom because they can’t see well yet.
They develop their sense of hearing by 4 weeks old. They have one of the best hearing capabilities of all land mammals. Humans can hear 20,000 hertz, but a cat can hear far better at 65,000 hertz.
6) Kittens see differently than humans
Before their vision is fully developed, kittens will use their whiskers and sense of smell to navigate their world. When their vision is fully developed at about 5 weeks, kittens can see movement and perceive depth better than humans in light that is six times dimmer. This is what helps to make cats such great nocturnal hunters. Another fact about kittens is that they cannot see the full spectrum of color that we can.
7) Kittens are super easy to potty train
Kittens have a natural instinct to bury their waste. They also learn to use the litter box by watching their mother. All you need to do is plop them in the box a couple times, and they should get the idea very quickly.
8) Kittens knead
Have you ever wondered why kittens and cats knead items and people? Kittens knead their mother to stimulate milk flow. For some reason, they carry this practice into adulthood. If a cat is kneading you, they may have chosen you as a mother figure.
9) Kittens can make more kittens
This one is a not-so-fun fact about kittens that is very true. If you consider a kitten to be any cat that is under one year of age, then yes, kittens can get pregnant. At about 5 months old, kittens become sexually mature and can go into heat and multiply. Luckily, kittens can be spayed as early as 8 weeks. This will prevent pregnancy and the undesirable effects of going into heat, like howling.
So now that you know all these fun facts about kittens, you may be considering adopting or fostering a kitten. The Michelson Found Animals Foundation can help connect you with adoptable kittens, or those you can temporarily foster. We provide you with tons of resources to get your kitten started on a healthy track. Visit our Resource Center for info about vaccinations, microchipping, and tips on how to take care of a new kitten.