A kitten is a baby cat. When kittens are born, they are entirely dependent upon their mother for food, warmth, and safety. The kitten stage lasts from birth until the cat reaches one year old when it’s considered an adult cat.
Here are some interesting facts you should know about kittens.
1. A group of kittens is called a kindle
The term kindle comes from the Middle English word “kindel,” which means “offspring.”
A group of kittens born at the same time to one mother is known as a litter.
2. Kittens are born blind and mostly deaf
Kittens are born with their eyes shut and ears folded. Over the next few days and weeks, the senses of the kitten will start to develop. Their ears will start unfolding around three days old and the kitten’s sense of hearing will develop by the time its four weeks old.
Around 6-7 days old, a kitten’s eyes will start to open although their eyesight is still unfocused. Around two weeks old, the kitten’s eye will be fully dilated.
3. Littermates Can Have Different Fathers
Kittens born to the same litter can look widely different. One reason for this is that these kittens can have different fathers. This is known as superfecundation.
When a female cat goes into heat, she may mate with multiple intact males, known as Toms. Female cats will release multiples eggs that stay viable for about 24 hours, allowing time for sperm from multiple male cats to fertilize them.
4. All kittens are born with blue eyes.
As the kitten grows, it’s eye color will mature into its permanent color. It won’t be until the kitten is two months old that its eye color will become apparent. (Related: What Eye Colors Can Cats Have?)
5. Kittens can purr from birth
Kittens are born with the ability to purr. Kittens will often purr and knead when nursing.
6. Newborn kittens can’t regulate their body temperature
Newborn kittens are dependent upon their mother and littermates to maintain an adequate body temperature. It’s not until the kitten is three-four weeks old that it can regulate its own body temperature.
7. Newborn kittens need stimulation to pee and poop
Added to the long list of things a newborn kitten can’t do is the ability to go to the bathroom. Mother cats will lick the bellies of their kittens to stimulate them to go to the bathroom.
8. Impressionable period for kittens kittens
For kittens to be properly socialized and bonded with humans, they should ideally be handled and played with starting from when they are between three to seven weeks of age. Up until twelve weeks old, kittens are highly impressionable and will learn socialization with other cats and how to “be a cat” from their mothers.
9. Kittens instinctively know how to use a litter box
Cats have an innate desire to bury their feces and urine. Kittens, if they know where their litter box is, will naturally understand how to use it.
10. Kittens can become pregnant at a young age
Even though kittens don’t fully mature until they are a year old, kittens can go into heat and become pregnant as young as five months old.