The Kitten Questions You Ask Us

Updated November 29, 2020

Here are the top 17. There’s no such thing as a silly question!

What Sex or Gender Is My Kitten?

Here’s how to tell whether a kitten is male or female:

Can I Give Milk To My Kitten?

Cows milk causes upset stomachs and diarrhoea due to lactose intolerance. Older cats can often tolerate milk in small amounts as a treat.

If you want to buy milk for your kitten it needs to be lactose-free. However, once kittens are eating solids it’s no longer an essential part of the diet.

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Whiskers are a sort of extension of the sense of touch that you’ll find in animals that hunt or move in low light. Whiskers have sensory receptors at their base that register when the whisker touches something. This allows cats to move through a dark environment without collisions and allows them to snatch a mouse or bird even when they can’t see it.

Do Kittens Need Microchips?

Cats need permanent identification more than any other pet species.

  • They lose their collars & tags
  • They commonly try to return to old homes
  • Dogs or stray cats chase them away
  • They get injured on roads
  • Other people often ‘re-own’ them
  • Cats without ID can be rehomed or euthanased at shelters

What Does Catnip Do To Cats?

Catnip and catmint make some cats go crazy, and does nothing to others. The active compound in catnip causes mood changes ranging from increases in affection through to aggression. We don’t yet know why it does this.

Although catnip is put in all sorts of cat toys, probably at least 50% of cats seem to get no effect.

Why Do Kittens Purr?

Purring is a caused by rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the cat’s larynx muscles and diaphragm around 20-30 times a second. It’s probably used for signaling to the mother cat that all is well, but it may also have a self-soothing effect. Most cats do it when contented, but vets also see it when cats are anxious or in pain so it’s not that simple.

Kittens also purr to communicate their pleasures or wants to their owners.

Why Do Kittens Knead?

Kneading is rhythmic pushing with the front paws that cats often do on people and comfy beds to show pleasure.

It’s used by suckling kittens to stimulate milk release by their mother’s mammary glands. The survival of this habit into adulthood shows how our cats tend to retain some kitten-like behaviours. This is probably also partly true for purring.

Can You Bath Cats & Kittens?

Healthy, adult cats are naturally clean animals and we don’t recommend bathing them. Here’s when bathing cats is a good idea:

  • Kittens who get food or yucky stuff in their coat
  • Adult cats with skin problems helped by special shampoos
  • Removing a toxic substance like grease before it gets licked
  • Breeds like Sphinx with special needs (your breeder will let you know)

Be warned: if you plan to bathe your cat, clip their nails first & wear thick long-sleeves and trousers. This won’t stop all injuries though!

Why Do Kittens Like Boxes?

Cats are creatures of the shadows; they love messy gardens, rooms full of junk, and BOXES. All this relates to their wild ancestors, whose hunting strategies use stealth and ambush. Cats are also preyed upon by larger animals so hidey holes give them a feeling of security.

It’s the same with high places. There’s more in our guide to keeping indoor cats happy.

Why Do Kittens Bite & Scratch?

Is your kitten playing too rough? Some kitties draw blood when they play with humans, and if you don’t fix it now, they could keep doing it as adults. What starts out as cute can end up being a real health hazard.

Most kittens that are biting or scratching people are being encouraged to do so. There’s usually someone in the house who enjoys rough play using their hands or other parts of the body. They don’t mind playing attacking games with your cat, who doesn’t mind playing back hard.

Here’s what to do about attack cats:

  • Only play using toys between your hands & the cat
  • If your cat attacks, don’t punish; This will only make it worse
  • If a cat is on your lap and may attack, use a pillow to push them off
  • Avoid situations likely to cause attacks
  • Feed meals, not free access; Cats need to see you as the provider

Read more causes of aggression in cats here.

What Shots Do Kittens Need?

All cats should get an F3 vaccination for calicivirus, herpesvirus and feline enteritis (sometimes called “flu and enteritis”) at 6-8 weeks, then 4 weeks later.

Cats who will be outside without supervision should also get protection from feline immunodeficiency virus, with causes cat AIDS. Read our full vaccination protocols for cats here.

What Do Kittens Eat?

You can buy any good quality complete & balanced kitten food; it will supply everything a kitten needs. Things almost never go wrong this way. It’s just too hard to make food for your kitten that supplies everything they need.

In our guide to feeding cats we also discuss raw bones and cat grass.

Can Kittens Just Eat Biscuits?

Yes, it’s quite OK to feed a diet that is only cat biscuits to healthy cats and kittens. You need to pay attention to their water bowls as they’ll need to drink a lot more water. We’d prefer you also give access to fresh items like grass as well.

Good quality cat foods contain low sodium levels and several cat foods also help keep teeth clean.

How Much Do I Feed My Kitten?

Heres how to calculate the amount:

  1. Buy a good quality kitten food
  2. Use the feeding guidelines on the package as a starting amount
  3. Split the total into two or three meals
  4. Feed meals at set times
  5. Bowls should be empty at the next meal; if not, reduce quantity by 10%
  6. Ask your vet to show you how to assess body condition
  7. Adjust the amount you feed to maintain an optimal condition

Do Kittens Teeth Fall Out?

By 6 weeks, kittens should have acquired all their deciduous (milk) teeth. These sharp little needles don’t last long though. Between 3 and 5 months of age, these teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent (adult) teeth.

How To Toilet Train Kittens

Here’s how to train a kitten to use a litter tray:

  1. Buy the same litter the breeder has been using
  2. Alternatively, choose a litter that feels like dry dirt or sand
  3. Place at least 2-3 shallow trays in private places (avoid closed trays)
  4. Show your kitten the trays and even dig with them a little
  5. Never punish toileting in a different place
  6. Clean up cat urine & faeces using specialised cleaners to prevent re-use of the area
  7. If your kitten keeps toileting in the wrong place, put a temporary tray there too
  8. If kitty uses your bed, keep that door shut permanently until the habit is gone
  9. Change or clean the litter daily
  10. Rinse trays without using strong chemicals

Once the habit is strong, you can remove extra trays or change the litter type. If you have a setback, go back to an earlier step.

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Cats don’t seem to have a circadian rhythm. They can sleep or be active whenever they like. If there isn’t much going on, cats will often take a cat nap. Old Tom who’s out all night will sleep all day whereas indoor cats are usually more active during the daytime.

Basically, cats sleep as a form of flexible downtime & energy saving.

Let’s be honest. We’re jealous.

Bonus question:

Why Are There So Many Kittens On the Internet?

It was made for them, silly. Just like everything else.

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

21 Replies to “The Kitten Questions You Ask Us”

  1. From my car I recently saw a cat with her kitten disappearing into a hedgerow during a rainstorm; it was a rural situation and there were farms within a mile in two directions. Should I have attempted to put cat and kitten into my car, take them to a house nearby to dry them off and feed them or would that be interfering too much? I know cats can die from hypothermia and as a long time cat owner, I was concerned for their welfare.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    1. Hi Roger. Your email address suggests that you are in the northern hemisphere where it is still summer. If so, the cats should be able to handle the wet weather. Additionally, if the cats are feral, they won’t be catchable without great stress to them and injury to you.

  2. I have two kittens their about 12weeks old what age can I get them spade or neutered? What can use one them for fleas? They had them when I got them.

    1. Hi Tracy. Spaying or neutering can be done any time from 12 weeks onwards, but if you delay until after six months of age the females will come into season and the males will start showing tomcat behaviours, neither of which are desirable. The best flea control depends on the country you live in, but I personally use either Revolution or Revolution Plus.

  3. I have a kitten about 2 months old and he got diarrhea
    is it because I make the room temperature high or drinking too much water or maybe eats alot?
    id be thankful to know about this,
    maybe any advices how I can help? or how to cure this??

  4. Our kitten was born on April 12, 2020. We have had her just over a week. She is great with her litter box except at night. She likes to sleep on our bed. She wet on it twice the first week and then stopped. Early this morning, we were up and she wet on the bed again instead of jumping down to her box. I have put her in the litter box when I wake up in the night and thoroughly washed everything in hot water with vinegar so she isn’t attracted to the same spot….short of shutting her out of the bedroom, is there anything else we can try?

    1. Hi Saky. Its of such paramount importance that your kitten does not think of any bed as a toilet that I would take drastic steps. For the sake of letting her be able to sleep on your bed in the future, I would stop doing it for a while until the habit of going to the litter tray every single time is so deeply ingrained that you can be sure she will get off to do it. This is always the key to successful toilet training in cats – when it goes well it’s automatic, when it doesn’t go well it’s very hard to change unless you act quickly to prevent a habit from forming.

    1. Hi Leonard. Good question! It’s not as important with cats to choose the sexes as it is to choose the personalities, which of course is hard with kittens. Some cats don’t enjoy the company of others, and problems mainly occur when very outgoing, typically male cats live with anxious, shy cats, typically female. Therefore, if you can’t get similar personalities, I think getting two of the
      same sex works best, which is very unlike dogs. Having said this, kittens who grow up together generally get on well with each other regardless so it’s more of a problem with unrelated cats.

  5. Throwing up flaim and diarrhea laying around sleeping he is a kitten not sure how old he was fine yesterday

    1. Glenda, diarrhoea and vomiting in kittens can be fatal – please get him to a vet as soon as possible.

    1. The answer will depend on the wormer used as some prohibit use before 6 weeks of age. Ideally we would start at 4 weeks, but problems are rare if started later. Good question.

    1. Hi Trisha. Thanks for the reminder! I’ve now added our video showing the difference between male and female kittens at the start of the article.

  6. Our Kitten is 5mos.old. When you adopted her, we were given Blue Buffalo food for the kitten. Since then, we’ve tried to give her kitten food but, she lumps the chunks of food and then nudges them into a pile. We’ve tried Friskies,and other brands of food and she does the same thing.
    Even with pate”, she will lump the bigger chunks of food into a pile in her dish with her muzzle. Very strange behavior for a kitten. Is this because she wasn’t weaned enough?

    1. Hi Robert. It’s actually not at all strange behaviour! Kittens and cats become highly fixated on the foods that they have had in their first 3 months, and are very resistant to change.

  7. Our neighbor’s cat comes to our house often which is a bit of a problem because our family doesn’t allow cats and dogs and I’m the only one that loves them.

    We found out she gave birth to two kittens. And so because she wasn’t ours, we took the two to our neighbors. The cat wasn’t there when we did but when she returned, she lay down on the spot where she left them and wouldn’t budge.

    Would she still recognize her kittens when she returns to her owners?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

    1. Yes, she should recognise them, and I advise you take her over to her kittens straight away. In future it’s better if you move the mother and her kittens together. Of course she may just move them back again! It sounds like your neighbours need to take more responsibility for looking after her and her kittens.

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