Kitten Questions

Currently, I am fostering a cat (now named Claire) and her five kittens (Lola, Annie, Norm Jr., Guinea Pig, and Sadie) for the SPCA. I enjoy being a foster Mom, but I know that when the kittens are ready to go to their forever, loving homes, I will be heartbroken! I know a lot about kittens, however, I have learned so much more since fostering five little fur-balls. I thought I would share some of the most common questions about kittens that I am asked. Enjoy!

My kitten’s eyes are blue. Will they stay that way?

A kitten first opens its eyes when he is between seven and fourteen days old. So they are basically blind for the first week or two of their lives (they depend on smell and of course, their mom’s help!). When they do open their eyes, their eyes will be blue in color. Most, if not ALL kittens have blue eyes when they are born. Now don’t get too excited, though blue is beautiful, your kitten’s eyes are most likely to change color as time goes on. The kittens I am fostering are currently 19 days old and each and every one of them has adorable blue eyes. Norm Jr. looks especially unique because of the way his striking blue eyes look against his all-black fur! A kitten’s eyes will begin to change color when they are about one month old. Usually, at approximately three months of age, a kitten’s eyes will settle into their permanent color though they may continue to intensify as time goes on. Cats can have a number of different eye colors including iridescent green, gold, amber, yellow-gold, and of course different shades of blue. It is interesting to note that a cat’s eye color is genetically related to his coat color!

When is it safe to take a kitten away from its Mother?

I always get a bit sad when I think of taking Claire’s kittens away from her. However, I must remember that Claire, though she cares for her babies, will get over it in a matter of days. As the veterinarian told me, “Cats are breeding machines! Once their babies are gone all they think about is having their next batch!” That is why having your cat spayed or neutered is SO IMPORTANT! Anyway, back to the question at hand. When is it safe to take a kitten away from its Mother? Well, in order for a cat to be a healthy, well-adjusted pet, it is important that it remain with its mother for at least ten to twelve weeks! If you are waiting for your new kitten to come home, be patient! Kittens have a very high mortality rate and approximately 25% die from birth defects, parasites, disease, or viral infections! Why is it important for kittens to stay with their Moms for so long? Well, just as you probably did, kittens learn A LOT from good old Mom! They socialize their kittens, show them how to use the litter box properly, and even teach them how to get along with and play well with others! So if you want a happy, healthy, well-adjusted kitty, let mama do her job!

Can I turn an old dog bowl into a cat feeding dish? After all, it’s perfectly good so why waste it!?

Um, no. First of all, cats are not dogs. Ha! Sorry, that was my attempt at humor. Anyway, it is not a good idea to use a dog bowl to feed your cat. Why? Well, I’ll tell you. Kittens and cats have very delicate whiskers and utilize them frequently (all the time), thus they despise getting them dirty. Dog bowls are almost always deep which would make it difficult for a kitty to eat his food without messing up his precious whiskers and this would highly annoy him. The deep bowl would also cause him to bang his whiskers on the side of the dog bowl and that would not make the kitty happy. Feed your kitten from a shallow bowl and if possible make it one made of stainless steel as plastic can harbor bacteria and cause kitten acne. Yuck!

I’m an animal lover, therefore, a vegetarian. Can I turn my kitten into a vegetarian as well?

I’m an animal lover too; however, I am not a vegetarian. I am for the humane treatment of animals and would NEVER, in a million years, wear fur. Anyway, it is NOT a good idea to turn your cat or kitten (or dog, or snake) into a vegetarian. Why? Well, there is no GOOD vegetarian cat diet available and your cat and or kitten NEEDS protein in order to be healthy! Cats CANNOT adjust to low-protein diets…a big NO-NO! If your kitten is deprived of animal protein (in his diet), his body will simply rob its own tissue to satisfy its craving (and need) for protein. Some pet food companies claim to have created vegetarian foods for dogs and cats, however, there has been NO long-term, controlled studies performed that actually prove their safety. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, wonderful! If you want your pet to live the same lifestyle, I suggest getting a rabbit, hamster, or guinea pig. They are cute too!

When is my kitten considered a cat?

My cat Norman, who is nine years old, is still a baby in my eyes. However, technically, he is no longer a kitten (sniff, sniff). The change from kitten to a cat is a gradual process (just like human life stages). There are a few milestones I can tell you about that just might help you understand your feline (and the aging process) a little bit better. At three months of age, your kitten is considered a juvenile. This is when your kitten will really understand how to “play” and be steady on his feet. At four months, a kitten should be able to understand simple commands such as “no.” I find this interesting as my cat Norman has never learned this command. Anyway, that is another story. Young adulthood starts around nine to twelve months. At this point, your kitten has pretty much stopped growing, however, he or she may still have some “bulking up” to do. A kitten’s personality is pretty much established at this stage of the game and he is quite curious and accepting of things around him (such as kids, FRIENDLY dogs, etc.). Your cat should reach full maturity around two years of age. Basically, this means that your cat will calm down a bit (and no longer destroy and play with everything in their path). As your cat ages, they usually become more interested in YOU, therefore, it is important to take the time necessary to bond with your precious puss. One interesting note, the Turkish Van cat breed does not fully mature until the age of five. Talk about a late bloomer!

So there you have it. Five common kitten questions! I will post more questions and answers as I receive them. Until then, Meow!