Whiskers as Long as… - their body is wide! Yep! Kittens are tiny little things, but their whiskers are pretty impressive. They grow to be as wide as their bodies are wide to help them navigate the world. This is especially helpful for young kittens that are still getting used to working all their limbs.
Baby Blues - Did you know that all kittens are born with blue yes? How cute is that! Their eyes open with a bluish hue at about 2 weeks of age, and some breeds like Siamese, Tonkinese and Ragdoll, keep their blue eye colour. You might see a range of colours during the kitten’s first year before her eyes change into their permanent colour.
Blind Babies - At around 7-10 days after birth, kittens open their eyes for the very first time. At this point, their vision is still blurry since the retina in the eye is not yet fully developed. One of the more surprising kitten facts is that although after a few weeks the kittens will be able to focus well, they don’t develop eyesight equivalent to an adult cat until around 10 weeks after birth.
During this period, their hearing is also developing, and their legs are becoming strong enough to begin holding weight. When a kitten does take its first steps, it learns quickly, and after just a few days will be scampering and climbing all over the house!
Mum Helps Their Immunity - Kittens don’t produce their own antibodies in the first several weeks of life. From colostrum (the feline new-born milk), they not only receive vital nutrients from their mom but also her antibodies.
The kitten’s intestines are developed to be able to absorb these antibodies quickly; thus, they are protected from diseases at an early age. If a kitten is unable to receive colostrum from their mom, some vets offer injections of adult cat serum, which works as an alternative method for transferring antibodies.
Le Kitten - the word ‘kitten’ doesn’t necessarily have to describe a baby cat and could just as easily be applied to cute little foxes, badgers, and rabbits. But, from an etymological point of view, the word’s history is rooted in all things feline. The word “kitten” is from the late 14th century, appearing in Middle English as kitoun, ketoun and kyton (spelling wasn’t regulated back then).
Linguists believe that the world got into Middle English via the Norman invasion, and actually comes from the Old French chitoun or cheton, meaning little cat. In England, from 1870 onwards “kitten” was a playful term for a young sweetheart, which might be where terms like “sex kitten” come from today!
Their Purrs Keep Them Healthy - Kittens learn from a young age to purr when they are happy and relaxed. They purr using their laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. They can do it while breathing both in and out, and at a steady pace, creating a pattern of about 25-150 Hertz.
We know that kittens love to purr when they’re happy − but what else can purring do for them?
Amazingly, scientists have discovered that sounds produced at this frequency can actually improve bone density and promote healing! For most mammals, the daily strain of moving around keeps their muscles and bones strong. But all cats, and especially kittens, spend a great deal of time asleep to conserve energy.
How do they counter this? Scientists have speculated that purring might be how these felines get the best of both worlds. Purring as a mechanism takes very little energy, but still stimulates the muscles and bones.
How Many Dads? - One single sperm fertilizes every egg. Not all of the queen’s eggs have to be necessarily fertilized by the same tom. If the female mates with multiple partners, it is highly possible that different toms fed the different eggs. Therefore, not all kittens of one litter have to share the same father.