Tag Archives: Upbringing

The kitten’s development 2/2

The phases of the kitten’s development

The phases of the kitten’s development about which we’re talking today are the phase of socialization and the puberty ; the prenatal phase and the neonatal phase are presented to you in a previous article.

The phase of socialization

This period, which goes from the 2-3rd week to the 7-9th week, is a key period : it conditions all the life to come of the kitten.

The kitten learns first that he’s a cat : it’s the imprinting process. He recognizes his congeners by being next them. Even an orphan kitten can imprint as far as it has the opportunity to spend time with other grown-up cats. Contrary to the habituation or to the socialization with other species, the imprinting process is a long-lasting learning which does not require to be maintained throughout the cat’s life. The kitten also learns to communicate and to interact by following the life’s rules of cats.
Pixie mai 2014
Towards 21 days, his sense of smell allows him to locate the place for elimination, which is taken away from the nest. The kitten is physically capable of relieve himself by himself, and he observes how does her mother : he becomes clean.

Depending on the environment in which he lives, the kitten learns that there are “friendly species” with which he can communicate and interact : humans, dogs, …

Now that he can see, hear, and move, he can explore his environment. He learns to adapt himself to diverse situations and to react to diverse hearing, visual, olfactive, or tactile stimulations.
His new motive skills allow him to play from the 2nd week. The game allows the kitten to learn self-controls : control of his strength and his movements, and capacity to play without biting and without claws. Milk teeth appear at about 4 weeks : the cat strongly reprimands his kitten if he plays to nibble her tail or her ears, or if he hurts her by sucking. When kittens play together, the bites or the scratches provoke cries of pain and sometimes the stopping of the game. The mother can also intervene to calm all those little guys so that kittens learn to control themselves.

From the end of the phase of socialization to the beginning of the puberty, the kitten continues his learnings.
Pixie septembre 2014

The phase of puberty

As for humans, there are hormonal modifications that pull physical and physiological modifications. The genital glands become functional, the kitten develops still physically and gains weight, the behavior differs between males and females, urinary marking and the first estrus appears at this moment. Depending on the cat breed and the environment in which he evolves, the puberty arises between 4 and 18 months. Thus it’s better to be early enough all eyes !

Thus a large number of obstacles appears on the way of the harmonious development of an orphan kitten : we dedicate an unlimited admiration for all the humans who accompany orphan kittens on this long way, and help them to become cats feeling good about their life.

What’s next ?

Our kitten is grown-up soon ; he is going to keep learning (or to forget some not maintained learnings) throughout his life.
Pixie adulte

Sources :
Philippe Bocion «Le développement du comportement du chat» (training)
Valérie Dramard «Le comportement du chat» (book)
Thanks to our friend Alexandra for the photo of the kittens born at night from 30 to 31 March 2017.

The kitten’s development 1/2

We dedicate this article to the humans who accompany the orphan kittens in their development.

The main behavioral learnings are made during the first months of life of the kitten. The first weeks are the most important in his development, we evoked it in our article about the development of the cat’s behavior.

Within three months, the weight of his brain quintuple and reached the weight of the brain of a grown-up cat ; the number of nervous connections multiplies, and those who are stimulated will be kept according to what experiments the kitten while the other will disappear.

Some periods are more convenient than others to the fundamental learnings, but they are often short. The kitten learns by observation (hunting for example), and by imitation (he does at the same time : if his mom shows herself sociable with the humans, he will do the same).

The phases of the kitten’s development

The phases of the kitten’s development about which we speak today are the prenatal phase and the neonatal phase ; the phase of socialization and the puberty will be the object of another article.

The prenatal phase

The cat is expecting youngs ; the gestation lasts between 62 and 65 days. Our kitten is not born yet, but the living conditions of his mom already have an influence on him :

  • a put under stress cat will often give birth to stressed kittens also
  • a badly fed cat will often give birth to kittens which can have development or behavior disorders (aggressiveness, fear, …)

The neonatal phase

That’s it, the kitten is born ! This phase lasts from the birth to the opening of the eyes. When he’s born, the kitten is deaf and blind. His eyelids are stuck, and the canal of his ears also. He spends the big part of his time sleeping, and the little remaining time sucking. He’s completely dependent on her mother.

It looks like this small kitten doesn’t do much, but during his sleep, his hormones are hyperactive : his nervous system and his sensory system undergo big upheavals, all his body is in perpetual evolution. It is thus extremely important not to wake him while he’s sleeping, because sleep is essential in his good growth.
newborn kittens are blind and deaf
The young kitten is capable of crawling and of turning to a source of heat, but doesn’t still manage to regulate his physical temperature. The sucking and rooting reflexes are instinctive : the kitten sucks as soon as he has something in the mouth, and as soon as the head meets an obstacle, he pushes it. He thus stimulates the milk production so by leaning on his mom’s belly. And he chooses his favorite teat ! The kitten cannot relieve himself spontaneously yet : his mom has to lick his perineal area after every meal to stimulate the micturition or the defecation.

The cat takes at once to his youngs, and the youngs takes to their mother after a few days. This privileged and exclusive link is reassuring : it favors the exploration of their environment by kittens while the dependence led by the same link of attachment prevents them from going away too much. As soon as a kitten is too much taken away from her mother, he shows signs of stress and ill-being. The momcat present signs of concern also and does everything to get him back to the nest. She calms down only when she is sure that all her babies are present. Exception made by deaf cats, any cat will answer the cries of distress of a kitten.
don't disturb sleeping kittens
The eyes of the kitten open between the 2nd and the 16th day. He hears from the 5th day, but his ears open only between the 10th and the 15th day. We’ll see him beginning to sit down towards 12 days, to walk towards 17 days, and to scratch himself the ear with the back paw towards 21 days.
How is the kitten going to keep evolving ? What learnings does he still have to do ?
We’ll tell you everything in our next article !

what do I still learn ?Pixie, April 2014

Sources :
Philippe Bocion «Le développement du comportement du chat» (training)
Valérie Dramard «Le comportement du chat» (book)
Thanks to our friend Alexandra for the photos and the video of the kittens born at night from 30 to 31 March 2017.

How is developing the cat’s behavior ?

Just like the human baby, the kitten is not “finished” at the birth yet : he completely depends on her mother (or a maternal substitute), and still has to develop physically and mentally. He will moreover keep evolving throughout his life. Did you know for example that even an old cat can still learn things ?

During certain short phases of the kitten’s development, learnings specific to every period will be facilitated. Outside these phases, these learnings can only be made with difficulty, or then will be imperfect. He is thus crucial not to miss these stages : we’ll tell you about it more in detail in a next article.

How is developing the cat’s behavior ?

Every cat has his character and behavior of his/her own, but all the cats share some behavior appropriate to the species “cat”.

Several behaviors are present since birth : some will last all the life (for example yawning), while other will disappear later (for example the reflex of suction).

Other behaviors will appear later : some will last all the life (for example urinary marking), others can disappear (for example the fear of humans).

Innate or acquired ?

The reflexes as the reflex of suction or the locomotion are innate, but the majority of the behaviors are mainly acquired. The characteristics of a breed regarding behavior are rather the fruit of the choice of the breeders as for their breedings, and the genetic transmission plays here a role less important than an environment. On the other hand, the physical characteristics of a cat (size, color, form of ears, length of hairs, …) are very strongly under the influence of the genetics.

Can my cat forget some behaviors ?

Yes : learnings realized by habituation or by socialization with other species must be maintained throughout the cat’s life.

Habituation consists in being frequently confronted in a progressive, repeated, and positive way with situations, noises, visual stimulations, …, in order to develop your capacity of adaptation to live in diverse environments. A positive strengthening encourages the cat to redo (or not) an action according to the obtained result (attention, treat, …).

A big part of the learnings by habituation is made between the 2nd and 9th week of life (mainly between the 3rd and 7th week), but it’s as well by habituation that we can teach something a grown-up cat : the wished behavior will be every time strengthened by a reward.

This way of doing can be used to accustom the cat to an object which let him react (vacuum cleaner for example), but warning ! If you go too fast, if you force your cat, you’ll obtain the inverse result : your cat will have aggravated reactions, will be even more frightened, and can even be aggressive. It’s what we call the sensitization.

The period convenient to the learning of “friendly species” is the same that the one for habituation : between the 2nd and the 9th week of life (mainly between the 3rd and 7th week). During this phase, the kitten learns to become friend with humans, but also with other species if there is in his environment (dogs, rabbits, …).

Again, a frequent, repeated, and progressive confrontation, made by positive interactions with any sorts of people (or of species) will allow afterward a good cohabitation with these people or these species (and the absence of predation). Humans’ big variety is necessary in any case to obtain a cat with a real sense of himself : children of any ages, elderly, men, women, with or without glasses, with a cane or a wheelchair, …

This capacity to recognize “friendly species” can be developed afterward, but it’s even much longer, much more difficult, sometimes impossible for some cats.

The momcats and the humans by whom cats are born thus have a big responsibility on their future well-being ! And when you’ll have read our article on the kitten’s development (coming soon), you’ll also understand better our unlimited admiration for the humans who take care of orphan kittens.

Sources :
Philippe Bocion «Le développement du comportement du chat» (training)
Valérie Dramard «Le comportement du chat» (book)