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10 Facts About Kittens to Keep in Mind

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You just picked up an adorable bundle of joy from your local cat rescue. Running through a mental checklist, you ask yourself if there's anything you might have forgotten. Kitty litter? Check. Soft cat bed? Check. Kitten food? Check. What more could you possibly need? Well, if you're a first-time kitten owner, you may need a little more information on kittens and their needs. 

Here are 10 kitten facts to keep in mind.

1. Kittens have a keen sense of smell.

As kittens develop over the first few weeks, their sense of smell helps them locate Mommy. Sight doesn't develop right away (see #2), so they depend heavily on sound and smell during the first few weeks. Did you know that kittens have a far superior sense of smell than humans? This is because they have a special organ located in the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal organ

2. Kittens are born blind and take a few weeks to develop sight.

If your kitten is a newborn, she will have her eyes completely closed. And she won't open them until a week or two after birth. By then, she'll be adept at using smell and sound, so she won't rely as much on sight. A kitten's vision is not fully developed until 5 weeks old.

3. They can be right-pawed or left-pawed.

Just like humans, kittens have a natural preference for using one paw or the other. Not sure if your kitten is right- or left-pawed? Watch closely to see which paw he uses first when playing with a new toy.

4. Kittens are born with blue eyes.

According to Alley Cat Allies, all kittens are born with blue eyes. As they grow, their eye colour may change. However,  a kitten's eyes can take up to two months to develop their mature colour.

5. Kittens are capable of reproduction at 5 months and up.

To ensure that your kitten doesn't accidentally become pregnant, you should spay or neuter all kittens at 8 weeks old. Kittens mature quickly, and, if they are not spayed, they can go into heat at 5 months old. Don't put it off!

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6. Kittens are easy to potty train.

Provide a litter box with a soft substrate, and she will probably start using it on her own. If an older cat is present, kittens will learn by following their example. According to Susan at Catster, "It’s instinctual for cats to bury their waste in sand-like substrate." 

7. Kittens should be groomed from a young age.

Because kittens are highly adaptable, you should start grooming right away. Gently open their mouth and take a look at their teeth. Also, handle their paws, and trim their nails if necessary. If you regularly groom kittens, they will be much easier to groom as adults.

8. Kittens enjoy kneading.

When kittens nurse, they knead in order to help milk flow. However, they continue the habit into their adult years. If your kitten or cat starts kneading on your lap, it just means that she wants to be comforted. 

9. Kittens sleep for about 18 hours a day.

In order to develop normally, kittens need a lot of sleep! Don't be alarmed if your kitten sleeps for hours at a time, even during the day. Kittens require a special growth hormone that is only released while sleeping. In a matter of months, she'll be more active and need less sleep.

10. Kittens are very impressionable.

To help your kitten develop into a healthy adult, you'll need to spend lots of one-on-one time with her. Cuddling, play, and loving touch will help teach her to trust humans. She'll also learn about acceptable and unacceptable behaviours from your responses. Be consistent and loving, and she'll grow into a happy, well-adjusted adult.

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