Today is National Kitten Day! To celebrate, we're sharing some of our favorite feline facts about what makes the teeny-tiny tabbies just so darn cute. Because everybody loves kittens! Test your kitten knowledge with these 8 facts all about kittens!
Kitten season is still going strong in the US! Here's what to do if you find an abandoned kitten.
Psst - if you've got a kitten of your own at home (or perhaps a cat who's still a kitten at heart), shop cat toys at 25% off using code 'KITTENS' - in celebration of National Kitten Day!
1. Kittens are born blind and deaf.
Kittens are born altricial, which means they are born relatively immature and immobile and rely entirely on their mothers for care and survival. Kittens are born with their eyes closed (effectively blind) and folded ears and are unable to walk. Kittens generally open their eyes at 8-12 days old, but their vision won't fully develop until around 2-3 weeks old.
Other altricial species include dogs, squirrels, and certain types of birds (like owls)!
2. All kittens are born with blue eyes.
Yes, that's right! All kittens are born with blue eyes; their eye color will begin to change into their adult eye color when they are six to seven weeks old. Once the kitten's eyes are mature enough, melanocytes in their iris start to produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives the eye its adult coloration.
Cats with darker colored eyes have more melanin, while cats with green eyes have the least. When they are newly born, a kitten's eyes are still developing - and as such the melanin not deposited or been affected by the light yet. So kittens' eyes only appear to be blue! Adult cats who keep their blue eyes from kittenhood have low or no melanin production.
3. Kittens of the same litter don't always have the same father.
Talk about family drama! If there are lots of little kittens in a litter, it's possible there are multiple fathers involved. If mama cat mates with different males close together during the same heat cycle, her eggs could very well be fertilized by each different male cat she mates with. This is known as superfecundation, and can explain why some kittens look, well, like they're from different fathers!
4. Kittens have 26 teeth.
Just like humans, cats actually have two sets of teeth! They are born without visible teeth, but at around three weeks old their "kitten teeth" will grow in. Kittens have 26 "deciduous teeth" (aka baby teeth or milk teeth) that will fall out and be replaced by 30 adult teeth at six to seven months old.
5. A kitten as young as 6 months can have babies of her own!
This is why spaying and neutering is super important! It might seem outlandish, but that tiny li'l kitten running around chasing toys and falling asleep sitting up can have babies as young as 6 months old.
6. Kneading has an important purpose!
Cat owners who have adopted their cats as adults or even as kittens without a mother might wonder why their cats knead or "make biscuits" on soft blankets. This behavior likely stems from the "kneading" behavior that kittens use to stimulate milk flow while nursing. Adult cats will often illustrate this behavior when they're seeking comfort, like when they used to drink warm milk and hear their mom's purrs.
7. Kittens are pretty easy to potty train.
Cats have a natural instinct to, uh, "eliminate" in and or soil, but kittens will also learn this behavior from watching their mothers. Newborn kittens need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom (something their mother usually handles), and won't use the litter box until about three weeks old. Be sure to use non-toxic, fragrance-free, and non-clumping litters since curious kittens may accidentally ingest litter and it could be a health risk.
8. Kittens can walk at around 3 weeks old!
Most kittens can stand at just 10 days old - but it takes a little bit longer for them to get mobile! At around 3 weeks, most kittens will begin walking around on their own, with coordination coming in at around 4 weeks. It won't be long before they're doing zoomies around the room! Compare that to most humans who start walking at around 11 months.