Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Dear Ms. Kitty: Know the facts before welcoming kitty into home

By Sherri Albertson Special to The Gazette - Published: January 20, 2014

Dear Ms. Kitty,

I never have been a cat guardian, but my daughters recently persuaded me to adopt an adorable pair of kittens. It will be a real pleasure to watch my newest family additions grow up with my kids, but I have to admit that I don't know much about cats. Can you please give me some basic information to share with my children?

Dear Reader,

Properly introducing your daughters to the cats is an important way to teach them to respect the kittens. While there is plenty of information available from various sources, here are a few facts about cats to share with your daughters.

- The average adult cat sleeps 16 to 18 hours per day. This means that a 7-year-old cat has been awake approximately 2 years of its life. Kittens will need to nap more frequently, so make sure they receive that required quiet time.

- Nearly all cats are lactose-intolerant and should not be given cow's milk. Kittens don't need cow's milk to assist in their development. Milk likely will cause stomach distress. Should your daughters want to give them a milk-type product, there are milk substitutes available at pet stores. But even these should be given in moderation.

- Cats knead with their paws when they are happy. Sometimes during this show of affection they will use their claws. Kittens have very sharp claws and will use them without regard to consequences, especially during play time, so plan to provide the proper guidance to make sure that your daughters aren't injured.

- As kittens get older, they will let you know if they have been overstimulated during play by swishing their tails back and forth or twitching their ears. If this happens, it is advised to let them calm down for a while.

- Cats have more than 100 vocal sounds and their whiskers help them navigate in the dark. Cats cannot see in complete darkness and do need a low amount of light. Additionally, a cat's sense of smell is approximately 14 times greater than that of a human.

- Cats greet one another by touching noses. They have sandpaper-like tongues that they use to clean and groom themselves. If your kitten head-butts or licks you, it means that it really likes you. If it holds its tail straight up as it's walking toward you, it means that it's happy to see you. Cats' front paws have five toes and the back paws have four. Kittens that are born with extra front or back toes are called polydactl.

- Cats don't always land on their feet. Cats who fall from as low as five stories have a 90 percent survival rate. So make sure to keep windows screened tightly and don't allow access to high places, even inside the house.

-

Do you have a question? Send your question to AskingMsKitty@gmail.com and it might be featured. Albertson co-manages Happy Cats Haven at 1412 S. 21st St. Learn more at happycatshaven.org or call 635-5000.

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