Kittens playfully become hunters

At four weeks, kittens need to focus on where to put their paws. Two months later they are perfect hunters, albeit in miniature format.

It comes to the first small blows. Luckily, brothers and sisters can already pick up their claws and show them again if necessary. So far, the tiny weapons were always far out. From the fourth week of life, social games are on, while the little ones are taught cat manners. They eagerly train with the patient mother and siblings. At the beginning, she peeks very timidly with her counterparts, but then soon she deliberately lets out paw shots and rehearses the use of the pointed milk teeth, which, however, are only complete with six weeks. Although little brothers and sisters still have to focus heavily on where to put their paws, but at the age of four weeks, they hardly fall over, which strengthens their self-confidence. The organ of balance in the ear is developed so far that the sneaking and chasing of the siblings works just fine – and of course also on small, moving objects. Another one or two weeks, the tail must be erected steep when balancing, then running works like an adult without the rudder. Already the whole crowd of children rages through the flat and the garden, where the mother cat carried her out for the first time four weeks after the birth.

A Maunzer from the lost son

Tirelessly, the little ones practice catching, tumbling around on the ground and jumping around like rubber balls. At first, the kittens of the mother are on the heels of exploratory excursions, but in the commotion it can happen that one of the over-hearted siblings loses contact with the family. But it only needs to mourn, and the worried mother rushes to help her lost son or daughter. In this phase of development – when the cat’s children start their first morsels at the age of four or five weeks – the free-flowing cat mother starts her hunting lesson. She brings freshly killed prey with her home and lets her sniff her before she eats her up. Obviously she wants to familiarize the youth with the future menu. A short time later, she even hauls live mice and organizes a kind of competition with her offspring to recapture the mouse. During this competitive situation, Bruderchen takes a heart and sets the killing bite. Done, the first mouse is defeated! Although, like all young cats, many patterns of hunting behavior are innate to him, the experiences with the prey brought by the mother help to perfect his abilities. After all, prey animals can not only escape but also be quite snappy.

The sense of balance will soon be perfect

With six weeks, the cat’s children have a better sense of balance than us humans. Now they are not necessarily dependent on breast milk, but continue to nurse. They feel secure with their mother who is still cleaning their backs. And if they are frightened by something, like by neighbor’s old hen or the vacuum cleaner, they continue to seek protection from her. At the age of seven weeks, the interests change. The plaything with the siblings backstage, the cat’s children concentrate on their environment. All the little objects that roll, wiggle or run on their own or move around with the help of the cat’s paws, cast a spell over them, no matter if they are toys. Display: Make your cat happy or not. Feathers, balls of wool, leaves, bottle corks or naked toes attract attention. Alternatively, imaginary flies are hunted or shadows are shooed on the wall. Even the own little tail does it sometimes as always ready to hand toys. These environmental games are very different from games with social partners, whether with conspecifics or humans: When a cat’s child with inanimate things from his environment, it repeats certain movements again and again. At board games it never does. So much daily child’s play makes a lot of sense, researchers have found: Apart from the necessary bodybuilding and skill training, the playful games are vital for the healthy and rapid development. They stimulate brain growth and promote the motor and perceptual skills that each cat child needs to explore and interact with others.

All the features of a skillful hunter

Playing at the age of ten weeks, the siblings master all the forms of transport they need to survive: climbing, running, jumping. Even on top of a branch, the mini-Walking along confident Tiger, without them threatening to crash. And should one of them accidentally slip off, then he lands like a grown-up and soft on all four paws. Another two weeks of game training, and they made it: At the end of the third month of life, brothers and sisters have all the qualities of a skilful hunter, albeit in a much smaller version.

About Tony Jack

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